Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech to the American University in Cairo Thursday that directly rebutted former President Barack Obama’s address in the same city ten years ago.
“Remember, it was here, here in this city, that another American stood before you,” Pompeo said. “He told you that radical Islamist terrorism doesn’t stem from an ideology. He told you that 9/11 led my country to abandon its ideals—particularly in the Middle East. He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed ‘a new beginning.’ The results of these misjudgments have been dire.”
Pompeo used the Obama administration as an example of poor U.S. foreign relations throughout his speech, arguing that a lack of American intervention aided in the growth of Middle Eastern turmoil. This includes the war in Syria and the growth of the terrorist group known as Islamic State.
While Obama’s 2009 speech called for cooperation with Iran, a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the protection of human rights, Pompeo harshly condemned Iran and praised Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain.
“The Trump administration has moved quickly to rebuild links among our old friends and nurture new partnerships,” said Pompeo of these nations.
He did not mention their faulty human rights records, including Saudi Arabia’s recent murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Bahrain’s suppression of its majority Shiite population, the Washington Post reports.
While Obama warned that the U.S. does not have all the answers to the Middle East’s conflicts, Pompeo proclaimed, “the age of self-inflicted American shame is over.”
“Now comes the real ‘new beginning,'” said Pompeo, referring to Obama’s use of this phrase in his speech. “In just 24 months, actually less than two years, the United States under President Trump has reasserted its traditional role as a force for good in this region, because we’ve learned from our mistakes.
“We have rediscovered our voice,” Pompeo added, according to CNN. “We have rebuilt our relationships. We have rejected false overtures from enemies. And look at what we have accomplished together.”
Pompeo celebrated the U.S.’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, the moving of the Israeli U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and the military strikes on the Assad regime in Syria.
In presenting U.S. intervention as a vehicle for freedom, Pompeo harshly condemned Iran, a nation of which the Trump administration has long been critical.
“For those who fret about the use of American power, remember this: 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, according to NPR.