Mike Pompeo Is Trying to Bluff His Way to a Legacy

January 12, 2021
Jeffrey Lewis

The following is an excerpt from Foreign Policy.

Since the start of the new year, [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo’s Twitter account has been on a rampage, touting the accomplishments, such that they are, of his tenure at the State Department. The account has been posting between 20 and 30 tweets a day, each defending the administration’s record and invoking all the hoary hashtags of “Make America Great Again” social media: #LeadingFromTheFront, #SoMuchWinning, #StillWinning, #MaximumPressure, #AmericansFirst, #PeaceThruStrength, and, of course, #swagger. At the time I filed this column, there were about 200 such tweets.

The account kept this up through the insurrection on Wednesday, when President Donald Trump incited a mob to storm the Capitol in an effort to overturn his loss in the election. Pompeo’s staff did pause long enough to issue a short, three-tweet thread condemning the violence. After what was presumably judged to be a decent interval, the account returned to business as usual.


All this has very concrete effects. Take North Korea, where Pompeo has been taking the least-deserved victory lap since his boss claimed to have won the 2020 election, both on Twitter and in interviews. Sure, he is admitting, finally, that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has not decided to give up his nuclear weapons—at least not yet. (This is progress for a man who routinely asserted that Kim had agreed to disarm, even when North Korea repeatedly said otherwise.) And still, Pompeo is declaring victory because, he says, Kim has agreed to end the testing of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that can strike the United States.


There is just one small problem with this. Kim has renounced that moratorium. He literally gave a speech in which he said “there is no ground for us to [be] unilaterally bound to the commitment any longer, the commitment to which there is no opposite party.”

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