U.S. Asserts Authority at NATO in Stinging Criticism

Pompeo criticizes European capitulation to Iran, China, Russia

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo / Getty Images
December 4, 2018

BRUSSELS—Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brought the Trump administration's voice to a gathering of European leaders, offering a stinging criticism of the European order's capitulation to rogue nations such as Iran, China, and Russia.

Pompeo, addressing a gathering of NATO leaders on Tuesday, offered a sobering rebuke of the international treaty group, telling the crowd the Trump administration will not stand down in the face of rising threats from a host of rogue regimes.

Criticizing the rise of anti-Israel bias and complacency in the face of growing threats from countries such as Iran, Pompeo championed President Donald Trump's foreign policy vision.

"This U.S. leadership allowed us to enjoy the greatest human flourishing in modern history. We won the Cold War. We won the peace. We reunited Germany," Pompeo said. "This is the type of leadership that President Trump is boldly reasserting."

"After the Cold War ended, we allowed this liberal order to begin to corrode," Pompeo continued. "It failed us, and it failed you. Multilateralism has become viewed as an end unto itself. The more treaties we sign, the safer we supposedly are. The more bureaucrats we have, the better the job gets done. Was that ever really true? Does the system as it exists today work for all the people of the world?"

Pompeo had harsh words for the United Nations as well, telling leaders the international organization has failed to uphold Western values amid rising threats from rogue nations that seek to buck the global order.

"At the United Nations, peacekeeping missions drag on for decades. The U.N.'s climate-related treaties are viewed by some nations as a vehicle to redistribute wealth," Pompeo said.

"Anti-Israel bias has been institutionalized. Regional powers collude to vote the likes of Cuba and Venezuela onto the Human Rights Council," he said. "The U.N. was founded as an organization that welcomed 'peace- loving nations.' I ask: Today, does it continue to serve its mission faithfully?"

Offering a sober assessment of the global state of affairs, Pompeo told the crowd, "bad actors have exploited our lack of leadership for their own gain. This is the poisoned fruit of American retreat."

"China has routinely exploited loopholes in World Trade Organization rules, imposed market restrictions, forced technology transfers, and stolen intellectual property. And it knows that 'world opinion' is powerless to stop its Orwellian human rights violations," Pompeo said.

Additionally, "Iran didn't join the community of nations after the nuclear deal was inked; it spread its newfound riches to terrorists and dictators. Tehran holds multiple American hostages," he noted.

"Iran has blatantly disregarded U.N. Security Council resolutions, lied to International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors about its nuclear program, and evaded U.N. sanctions. Just this past week, Iran test fired a ballistic missile, in violation of [U.N. Security Council resolution] 2231."

"Earlier this year," he continued, "Tehran used the U.S.-Iran Treaty of Amity to bring baseless claims against the United States before the International Court of Justice. Russia has violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) for many years."

"We have to account for the world order of today in order to chart the way forward," Pompeo told European leaders. "It is what our National Security Strategy deemed 'Principled Realism.' It is better known as 'Common Sense.'"

Defending the Trump administration's policy of shaming and penalizing bad actors such as Iran, Pompeo said the president is "returning the United States to its traditional leadership role."

Trump, he said, "sees the world as it is, not as we wish it to be. He knows that nothing can replace the nation-state as the guarantor of democratic freedoms and national interests."

Trump "knows, as [President] George H.W. Bush knew, that a safer world has consistently demanded American courage on the world stage," he said. "And when we—all of us—ignore our responsibilities to the institutions we've formed, others will abuse them."

The Trump administration will continue to pursue international policies that "reassert our sovereignty to reform the liberal international order, and we want our friends to help us and to exert their sovereignty. We aspire to make the international order serve our citizens—not control them. America intends to lead—now and always."

"The first two years of the Trump administration demonstrate that President Trump is not undermining these institutions, nor is he abandoning American leadership," Pompeo said, addressing criticism from some European allies that view Trump's policies as abrasive. "Quite the opposite. In the finest traditions of our great democracy, we are rallying the noble nations to build a new liberal order that prevents war and achieves greater prosperity."