In his keynote speech in Cairo, the Secretary of State continued with Trump-era policy of not just refusing to read the room, but baiting the audience with cocksure declarations of American greatness verging on the evangelical.
“It’s the truth, lower-case ‘t,’ that I’m here to talk about today. It is a truth that isn’t often spoken in this part of the world, but because I’m a military man by training, I’ll be very blunt and direct today: America is a force for good in the Middle East,” started off Pompeo, part stern homespun preacher, part P.T. Barnum getting the show back on the road.
And what’s the best way of drawing customers to your circus (or church)? It’s definitely not focusing on granular analysis of intractable centuries-old geopolitical problems, or admitting that you are just a tawdry freak show.
‘A liberating force, not an occupying power’
Instead, the wholesome and magic-filled Mike was all about “the good news,” America’s “innate good”, a “bright future”, and boasts verging on the hard sell.
“America has always been, and always will be, a liberating force, not an occupying power. We’ve never dreamed of domination in the Middle East. Can you say the same about Iran?” asked Pompeo, almost as if expecting pantomime-style boos from his audience.
“In World War II, American GIs helped free North America from Nazi occupation. Fifty years later, we assembled a coalition to liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein. Would the Russians or Chinese come to your rescue in the same way, the way that we have?” cue more inaudible jeers.
Any problems – well that was “another American that stood before you”. The last pastor didn’t just “gravely misread” history, he perhaps collaborated with Satan himself, when he took the shape of Iran.
“He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed, quote, ‘a new beginning,’ end of quote,” said Pompeo in reference to Barack Obama’s speech in the same city in 2009, but refusing to mention him by name, perhaps lest he be summoned.
“What did we learn from all of this? We learned that when America retreats, chaos often follows. When we neglect our friends, resentment builds. And when we partner with enemies, they advance.”
But now the flock will be arighted, continued Pompeo, a politician who has unironically spoken in public about his belief in the coming Rapture.
“The age of self-inflicted American shame is over, and so are the policies that produced so much needless suffering. Now comes the real new beginning.”
‘Robust humanitarian aid’ for Yemen & ‘peace’ for Syria
But Obama has not been president for two years – haven’t most of the problems he left behind still remained?
What about Yemen, for example, which according to the UN – and even US allies – continues to be the world’s worst ongoing humanitarian crisis, with millions starving and displaced.
“In Yemen, we’ve assisted our coalition partners as they take the lead in preventing an Iranian expansion that would be disastrous for world trade and regional security. As is always the case with America, our engagement has also been coupled with robust humanitarian aid.”
Syria and Iraq? “Life is returning to normal for millions of Iraqis and Syrians. Nations in the global coalition should all be enormously proud of this achievement. Together we have saved thousands of lives.”
Islamic State? “Life under ISIS was real hell, a living hell on Earth. Today, those areas are liberated, thanks to our coalition’s power and might and commitment.”
In fact, almost everything has been sorted – “When the mission is over, when the job is complete, America leaves,” said Pompeo, bragging about the reduced contingents in the region.
Speaking in tongues
Of course, almost any politician making a speech in the Middle East is obliged to put a glossy spin on the situation, if they don’t want to just collapse on the floor and wail in futility for forty minutes instead.
But the benefits of the new Pentecostal style of diplomacy, based on mass delusions and leaps of faith are less obvious. A penny for the thoughts of the Egyptians in the audience – some of whom no doubt came in with sympathetic trepidation to listen to the powerful foreign official, who ended his speech by blessing his audience.
Did they feel blessed? Is the US a church they believe in? Do they want to continue watching the shows from the same ringmaster?
Igor Ogorodnev, RT