As you know by now, Donald Trump yesterday cashiered his secretary of state, of 14 months standing, Rex Tillerson, and named Mike Pompeo, the current director of the CIA, as his nominee to be the nation’s highest diplomat.
Pompeo is a longtime friend of the neoconservatives, while Tillerson is a realist. The nomination is a victory for those who want to destroy the Iran deal; some say the move will kill the deal. Tillerson was for it, Pompeo is against it, and had sought military intervention in Iran instead of a deal.
So all those who said Trump would have a non-interventionist or isolationist foreign policy are proven wrong by events. Steve Bannon, the big America Firster, is gone, and neoconservatives are in the driver’s seat.
Robin Wright at the New Yorker quotes a proponent of the Iran deal suggesting that Trump is getting paid to break up the deal.
“Trump is methodically destroying the moderate camp in his Administration and moving steadily crazy-hard right,” Joseph Cirincione, the president of Ploughshares Fund, an N.G.O. dedicated to containing the spread of nuclear weapons, told me. “Today’s firing and the crude, insulting way that he did it weakens the traditional conservative camp, the State Department, and American credibility. It’s almost as if someone is paying Trump to do it.”
Not that The New Yorker will ever look into the ways that the Israel lobby corrupts both parties. (No, let’s have another piece about the Koch brothers and all their “dark money.”) But Trump’s two highest donors are fervent supporters of Israel, the only country in the world that is trying to smash the deal. Eli Clifton and Jim Lobe:
Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who spent $35 million via untraceable dark money groups to elect Donald Trump, more than any other donor, contributed at least $2 million to [Friends of Israel Initiative] between 2012 and 2016, according to tax filings. Home Depot founder Bernard Marcus, who placed second in the Trump campaign sweepstakes by spending $7 million to pro-Trump outside spending groups, contributed $215,000 to FOII between 2013 and 2014.
Sheldon Adelson pushed for the embassy to be moved to Jerusalem, and has offered to fund it, too.
Adelson gave tons to the Republican Party the last time a Republican was in the White House; and George W. Bush rewarded him by placing his friends all through policy making at State and Defense. At that time, Adelson’s chief cause was to stop the 2000 peace talks in their tracks, with their discussion of dividing Jerusalem. He had lately helped fund a group called One Jerusalem. It’s taken him 18 years, but Adelson has won.
Never-Trumper neocon Bill Kristol is thrilled by realist Tillerson’s departure.
On the one hand, McMaster (NSA), Pompeo (State), Mattis (Defense), Haley (UN) and Haspel (CIA)–and for that matter Kelly (COS)–is an excellent foreign policy team. On the other hand, Trump is POTUS.
By the way, Nikki Haley is widely thought to be such a shill for Israel at the United Nations because she harbors ambitions of higher office, some day, and — well, that’s where the money is.
At Politico, Michael Crowley quotes a leading neocon (who just spoke at AIPAC).
“For anybody who thought that Trump was bluffing about his May 12 deadline to fix the deal or nix it, the appointment of Mike Pompeo as secretary of state should be a wake-up call,” said Mark Dubowitz, an executive at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who has close ties to the Trump administration.
Pompeo has reportedly worked closely with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on hothead policy questions, when he was a Tea Party congressman.
“Bomb Iran and Execute Snowden,” is RT’s headline on the announcement.
Robin Wright says that Adelson-favorite John Bolton has been spotted shining around the White House again.
Tillerson’s dismissal has also deepened speculation about the departure of the national-security adviser, General H. R. McMaster. The former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, an über-hawk on foreign policy, visited the White House last week; Republicans in previous Administrations told me that he is an increasingly likely candidate to replace McMaster, whose long-winded lectures Trump has grumbled about.
That could mean war, say Lobe/Clifton:
Now, all we need is for Trump to replace National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster with former UN Ambassador John Bolton and the chances of some kind of military action against Iran before his presumed run for reelection will likely rise to a near certainty.
Israel and the neocons are trying to “suck America into” such a war, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson warned at the Israel lobby conference.
Pompeo has been very solid on the Middle East. Excellent relationship with the Israelis. Excellent relationship with the Sunni Arabs. Very hard on the Iranians. All in all, it’s definitely a change for the better.
Zakheim and Martin Indyk both tell Jewish Insider that Pompeo will not challenge Jared Kushner on the Israel/Palestine file. Not that anything’s happening there.
Pompeo is crazed about Iran as a “pernicious empire” and “despotic theocracy.” Jim Lobe and Eli Clifton document it:
Since becoming CIA director, he has kept up his extremely hostile rhetoric against Iran, quite possibly in an attempt to provoke Tehran to renounce the JCPOA and/or to strengthen hardline forces in the Islamic Republic opposed to rapprochement with the West.
The nominee likened Iran to ISIS, as a would-be caliphate, in a speech at the University of Texas just before Trump decertified Iran’s compliance with the Iran deal last fall:
Unlike ISIS and its mirage of a caliphate, Iran is a powerful nation-state that remains the world’s largest state-sponsor of terrorism. The Islamic Republic is Iran’s version of what the caliphate ought to look like under the control of an Ayatollah and his praetorian guard, the IRGC….They’re the vanguard of a pernicious empire that is expanding its power and influence across the Middle East. In recent years, the IRGC has become more reckless and provocative, seeking to exploit the vacuum left by instability in the Middle East to aggressively expand its influence.
The neocons love this talk, so they have no problem with Pompeo’s Islamophobia. Again, Lobe and Clifton:
Pompeo’s Islamophobia is well documented, and any questions about it should be answered by Tuesday’s excellent recap by Dean Obeidallah in The Daily Beast, “Mike Pompeo’s Disturbingly Consistent Friendships with Anti-Muslim Bigots.” In 2016, Pompeo reportedly accepted the “National Security Eagle Award” from ACT for America, which, according to the Anti-Defamation League, “propagates the hateful conspiracy theory that Muslims are infiltrating US institutions in order to impose Sharia law [and] stokes irrational fear of Muslims via a number of false claims that headscarves are a sign of radicalization, and that 25 percent of Muslims approve of terrorism.” (Flynn served on ACT’s board, while Gorka has spoken before local ACT chapters around the country.) It’s not surprising then, that the country’s most influential Islamophobe Frank Gaffney has interviewed Pompeo on his radio show more than 20 times, and Pompeo also figured prominently among the speakers at his Center for Security Policy’s (CSP) 2015 “Defeat Jihad Summit.”
J Street is urging senators to reject Pompeo’s nomination because he’s an Islamophobe and he pushed military intervention instead of the Iran deal.
President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, is an advocate for unnecessary wars, not a champion of diplomacy.
Pompeo has a long history of expressing outrageous anti-Muslim views, made even more troubling by his close relationship with Frank Gaffney, who the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “one of America’s most notoriou Islamophobes.”
Of course Pompeo’s promotion to State has long been rumored. We can be thankful that Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton is not being named to replace Pompeo at CIA. Eli Clifton at Lobelog reminds us of the expectations of the Trump foreign policy. Elevating a neocon to State would be “a striking departure from Trump’s campaign rhetoric denouncing previous administrations who saw the U.S. as ‘policeman of the world’ and the George W. Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq as based on a ‘lie.’”
By the way, I watched Trump’s amazingly entertaining (and ineffective) speech in western Pennsylvania on Saturday night. He was trying to get Republicans to the polls for congressional nominee Rick Saccone, of course; and Trump did not mention Israel or Jerusalem once. Remember that when people tell you about those powerful Christian Zionists…
Meantime, Democrat Conor Lamb, the apparent winner in that race, had an Israel moment in the race. It was exposed that he had written in 2002 of an Israeli attack on Gaza– which killed a woman in her 40s and a 14-year-old boy: “If this latest attack is not terrorism, I don’t know what is.” Lamb was then 17 and a student at the University of Pennsylvania; but the Free Beacon later reported that he worked hard to privately assure Jewish supporters about his stance on Israel, and even said he had no memory of writing those words. Here’s why he did so: because newby Democrats get their policy positions from AIPAC.
Thanks to Colin Wright.