Pompeo has become the American version of 'Baghdad Bob'

By: Rachel Marsden

PARIS — After the U.S. military’s assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Iraq earlier this month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the rounds on TV news shows. The perma-smirk on his face seemed oddly out of place considering that perhaps the only thing preventing the outbreak of a bloody war was Iranian restraint in its response to the attack.

Iran is now planning to pursue war-crimes charges against U.S. President Trump at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, while Pompeo smart-alecks his way across the world stage.

Pompeo is supposed to be leading the State Department, which serves as the face of America to the world. Diplomats effectively act as a government’s public relations agents, projecting its values to other nations. Head PR guy Pompeo was asked last year by a Christian news outlet whether Trump has come to power to “help save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace.”

“As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible,” Pompeo replied.

That line would be great PR for America at a Hague trial determining whether the U.S. acted in self-defense or with premeditation in assassinating Soleimani.

Pompeo has become a caricature. He exudes Manifest Destiny 2.0 — the notion that the entire world is America’s playground, and every other nation is either with the U.S. or against it. Pompeo represents the polar opposite of the non-interventionist foreign policy platform on which Trump campaigned. It was one of the primary reasons he defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who once joked in the wake of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s death, “We came, we saw, he died.” She used that pithy one-liner to encapsulate a war in Libya that has resulted in a flood of refugees into Europe, a slave trade and a new hotbed for jihadists.

Even a cursory glance at Pompeo’s Twitter feed demonstrates that he’s utterly clueless. Following a 170-0 vote by Iraq’s parliament to expel U.S. troops after the Soleimani assassination on Iraqi soil, Pompeo tweeted that he was “outraged by reports of another rocket attack on an Iraqi airbase.” He added that, “These continued violations of Iraq’s sovereignty by groups not loyal to the Iraqi government must end.” Pompeo conveniently ignored the fact that the U.S. remains in violation of Iraqi sovereignty by refusing to leave despite the wishes of that country’s elected representatives.

Trump has said in the past that he’d like to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq. So why does he continue to defer to his foreign policy point men, particularly when they display the neocon interventionist tendencies against which Trump has railed?

Pompeo also recently tweeted about the need to end the conflict in Libya, and a Libyan future “free from violence fueled by external actors.” That’s rich. The external actors Pompeo referred to are the “Syrian rebel” jihadists who were armed and trained by the U.S. government and its Persian Gulf allies.

A month ago, Pompeo lambasted Russia and China for vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution to allow further aid to these jihadists while they were wreaking havoc in Syria. Pompeo now opposes the presence of these same fighters in Libya. When they were hunkered down in the Syrian city of Idlib — while Russian, Syrian and Iranian troops led by Soleimani were trying to liquidate them — Pompeo whined about these poor jihadists being attacked.

In yet another Pompeo foreign policy farce, he tweeted photos of himself this week with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, referring to him as the “interim president” of Venezuela. Guaido has no credible claim to the presidency beyond Western allies deciding he’d make a better puppet for their interests than actual Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Pompeo praised Guaido for his “tireless efforts to restore democracy to Venezuela.” Nothing says grassroots “democracy” like being handpicked by a foreign power.

The Pompeo comedy tour looks increasingly like the “Baghdad Bob” show during the last Iraq War. Former Iraq information minister Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf was known for outlandish proclamations that defied the reality on the ground, as when he claimed that U.S. soldiers were committing suicide “by the hundreds” outside of Baghdad because they didn’t want to battle Iraqi troops.

The U.S. has found its own Baghdad Bob in Mike Pompeo. Except that it’s not quite so funny when it’s happening in America.