Pompeo’s Mea Culpa or Nah?

 

 

Michael R. Pompeo With the Student Newspaper The Sunflower | October 25, 2019

QUESTION: Thank you. Bill Taylor, a fellow West Point grad who’s served in every administration since 1985 – both parties – testified before the House. The White House line characterized it – he and others as “radical unelected bureaucrats.” I think you responded briefly to that yesterday, but I’m curious: Do you still have confidence in your top Ukrainian diplomat?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I don’t talk about personnel stuff. It just – it’s not fair to any of the team. But I’ll say this: I have a responsibility leading this big organization. I’ve watched Bill. He and I have talked about Ukrainian policy at some length: how do you take down corruption; how do you now help the new leader there, President Zelensky; how do we deliver on America’s national security interests. And he and I were in full accord on that. We – he and I both share in this vision for how American interests in Ukraine can properly be represented, and I have every reason to think that he’s still out there banging away at that problem set.

But I will say this: We all, as human beings, can get it wrong, too. We see things through a certain prism; we address things in a certain way. We all have a responsibility to make sure we’re getting it as right as we can each and every day. And so I don’t think by nature of the fact that I work at the State Department means I get everything right every day. I think that’s true for all the people who work at the United States Department of State. Indeed, I have seen State Department officials engage in behavior that was not appropriate, that wasn’t right, that didn’t reflect the highest values of the Foreign Service and American diplomacy around the world. And so my obligation as the organization’s leader is to sort through that, to parse through it, to make sure that we collectively are delivering on behalf of the American people each and every day.

We know that human beings can get it wrong, of course. “And so I don’t think by nature of the fact that I work at the State Department means I get everything right every day.”
Jeez, no one is accusing him of getting “everything right everyday.”
Indeed, I have seen State Department officials engage in behavior that was not appropriate, that wasn’t right, that didn’t reflect the highest values of the Foreign Service and American diplomacy around the world.”
Now, what is Pompeo talking about here?
This happened on the same day when his boss said that “everyone makes mistakes”, hey even Mike Pompeo. Apparently, that mistake was Pompeo hired an honorable man, Ambassador Bill Taylor as the United States man in Ukraine, who did his duty and told what he knew when called upon by the Congress in the impeachment inquiry.

 

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Special Rep For Korea Stephen E. Biegun to be Deputy Secretary of State

 

On October 31, the WH announced the president’s intent to nominate Stephen E. Biegun of Michigan, to be Deputy Secretary of State. The WH released the following brief bio:

Stephen E. Biegun is the United States Special Representative for North Korea at the Department of State, where he directs all United States policy on North Korea.  Prior to returning to government service in 2018, Mr. Biegun served as Vice President of International Governmental Relations for Ford Motor Company, where he was a third-generation Ford employee.  At Ford, he led an 80-person team located across 20 countries and was responsible for global trade strategy and international risk assessment.  Mr. Biegun has more than two decades of service in the Executive and Legislative Branches of government.  In Congress, he served as national security advisor to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, as Chief of Staff of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and as a senior staff member of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs.  At the White House, he served as the National Security Council Executive Secretary, a senior staff position under National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.  A graduate of the University of Michigan, Mr. Biegun is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has served on the boards of the National Bureau of Asian Research, the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, the U.S.-Russia Foundation for Economic Development and the Rule of Law, and Freedom House.

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Former USAID Employees Sign Statement of Support For U.S. Diplomats

 

Via American Diplomacy:

This Statement of Support for U.S. diplomats, first issued October 22, 2019, has been signed by several hundred former USAID employees.

As former Foreign Service Officers, civil servants and political appointees with the US Agency for International Development, we have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations, in Washington DC and throughout the developing world. We are writing in support of colleagues now under siege for their work as diplomats with the Department of State. Together, we spent our careers working to represent the policies and values of the United States. We are angered at the treatment of dedicated, experienced, and wise public servants like Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch; and we are distraught at the dangers inherent in the President’s cavalier (and quite possibly corrupt) approach to making foreign policy on impulse and personal interest rather than in response to national security concerns.

As USAID veterans, we spent our careers helping countries develop the capacity to govern and care for their people. Like our State and military colleagues, we pledge to serve wherever we are sent, in war zones, fragile states, or at the center of natural and man-made disasters. We have been under fire, evacuated from countries in crisis, and helicoptered in to help with floods, earthquakes and famines. Friends and colleagues have sacrificed their lives. We have worked closely with State colleagues to help countries recover from conflict, build new democracies, create jobs, deal with health issues like Ebola and HIV/AIDs, and feed the hungry. It was our job and we were glad to do it.

We are appalled that taxpayer funds for foreign aid may have been used to leverage foreign support for partisan political objectives. The way the President is conducting foreign policy raises questions about the reliability of the U.S. as a partner, its commitment to diplomatic norms, and its capacity for leadership. His administration’s treatment of State Department officers raises concerns about whether we will have the human and institutional capacity to answer those questions.

In a recent essay in Foreign Affairs, former Deputy Secretary of State William Burns calls the President’s “scorched-earth tactics, casual relationship with truth and contempt for career public service” a “New McCarthyism.” The President’s contempt for professionals is having a marked impact on the capacity of the State Department to do its job. According to a Government Accountability Office report, a 13-month hiring freeze left the State Department dangerously overstretched with “limited capacity to engage host country officials, to identify security risks or protect sensitive information.” An August 2019 Inspector General Report admonished political appointees in the Department for “inappropriate practices…including disrespect and hostile treatment of career employees,” based on “perceived political views.” Experienced Foreign Service Officers have been looking for the exits. They are not being replaced. Applications to the Foreign Service have dropped to levels rarely seen in 40 years.

A professional Foreign Service is key to the ability of the United States to develop and conduct a coherent foreign policy that protects our national interests. All of us, as Ambassador Yovanovitch stated in her deposition, took an oath when we joined to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” and “bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” As she said, we feel privileged to serve and are committed to do so on a nonpartisan basis “to strengthen our national security and promote our national interests.”

Our country needs a strong and vibrant Foreign Service, untainted by partisan political interference, to strengthen our relationships with countries around the world. If there is one small consolation all of us can take from recent events in Ukraine, it is that the country has been introduced to public servants like Ambassadors Marie Yovanovitch, Michael McKinley, William Taylor and DAS George Kent. They represent the high integrity, capability and professionalism of career State Department officers, and we are proud to stand with them.

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Click here for the original post and the list of signatories.