New Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has had talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, sat down with Face the Nation’s Margaret Brennan on Sunday to talk about the two biggest subjects of U.S. foreign policy in recent weeks: Iran and North Korea. As with the president he serves under, his approach and rhetoric could not have been more different on either.
On the latter, Pompeo struck a conciliatory tone, implying that complete denuclearization is no longer a precondition of the U.S. sitting down with North Korea, but could be used in a trade for the U.S. to lift sanctions on North Korea, which have exacerbated poverty in the country:
“There will be a real — the president has a commitment. And he will make this commitment to Chairman Kim, I am confident, that says, if you do the things we need to do, so that America is no longer held at risk by your nuclear weapons arsenal, and that you get rid of your CBW program and missiles that threaten the world, we will ensure that your people have the opportunity for the greatness that I know Chairman Kim wants them to have.
What’s ironic is this is probably the right call; calling for denuclearization as a precondition was itself a dumb request, as it essentially asked North Korea to eliminate all of its leverage before the U.S. even sat down at the table. And Pompeo’s big plan for North Korea’s economy after the sanctions might be lifted? An injection of good old fashioned American capitalism:
BRENNAN: So, for you, you have talked about making it worth North Korea’s while financially if they follow through.
John Bolton said today on another network that no one should look to the U.S. for economic aid, including North Korea.
POMPEO: That’s right.
BRENNAN: How do you reconcile those two things? They seem to be in contrast.
POMPEO: Oh, it’s very important. No, no. Oh, no, ma’am,(R)MDNM— very, very consistent.
What — what Chairman Kim will get from America is our finest, our entrepreneurs, our risk takers, our capital providers, not our taxpayers.
They will get people who...
BRENNAN: Private capital.
POMPEO: They will [get] private capital that comes.
North Korea is desperately in need of energy support, electricity for their people. They are in great need of agricultural equipment and technology, the finest from the Midwest that I come from. We can deliver that.
I’m sure North Koreans will have a ton of fun learning what a credit default swap is.
Before you hand Trump the Nobel Peace Prize, however, Pompeo again trashed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action—aka the Iran deal—and implied that the fact that Iran and Israel appear to be on the brink of war has anything to do with the fact that the U.S. just so happened to obliterate the deal last week:
With respect to whether the actions of this past week with respect to the JCPOA increased anyone’s risk, I think that is ludicrous. The Iranian bad behavior increased. It only increased during the time of the JCPOA.
No Iranian leader has admitted they had a weapons program. And the facts are now public that they did. They ought to at least be honest about that. But it’s not going to just be the nuclear file. It will their missile program. It will their effort to build Hezbollah. It will be their threats against Israel. It will the work that they’re doing in Yemen to launch missiles into Saudi Arabia, for goodness’ sakes.
This is the activity that the Iranian regime has undertaken during the JCPOA. We’re going to make a shift. We’re going to deny them the benefit of the economic wealth that has been created and put real pressure, so that they will stop the full scale of the sponsorship of terrorism with which they have been engaged in these past years.
To recap: on North Korea, Trump is taking a leap of faith in what could pay off as a historic win if he was able to strike a deal with Kim. And on Iran, Trump’s taking a giant step back for no reason that’s based in evidence, pissing off nearly every Western ally it has in the process.
It’s almost as if Trump is making decisions about U.S. policy towards these two countries based on how much of former President Barack Obama’s legacy was defined by them. That sure would be a ridiculous and dumbassed thing to do.