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Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel

Photo by Central Intelligence Agency | CC BY 2.0

With the not-entirely-unexpected departure of United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the brightest light in the Trump administration is now extinguished. Not that the illumination caused by that light was particularly bright, but when one is operating in total darkness, even a small candle is something for which to be grateful.

The former ExxonMobile executive supported the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action); sought a diplomatic solution with North Korea, and not only tried to delay the move of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, but also skipped visiting Apartheid Israel during a year-end tour of the Middle East. In each of these significant ways, Tillerson differed from his erratic, trigger-happy boss, who brooks no disagreement with his ever-changing thoughts. Add to that the fact that Tillerson was quoted in October as calling Trump a moron, and he basically issued his own pink slip.

Now through the revolving door that leads to White House appointments enters one Mike Pompeo, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). One wonders how the international community will like this appointment. The CIA is both famous and infamous for overthrowing foreign governments; destabilizing the governments of other nations; kidnapping U.S. and foreign citizens and torturing them. And now the man who oversaw that disgraceful agency is poised to become the U.S.’s top diplomat.

Perhaps, one might naively say, Congress will not allow such a travesty. Surely, U.S. elected officials, representing the will of the people in the world’s greatest democracy (gag), will not allow such a person to represent the country around the world.

When pigs fly.

It is not feasible to think that the greedy, lazy and corrupt members of the U.S. Congress will do any such thing. Doing so would take effort, integrity, statesmanship, honor, respect for the sacred trust they have been given, and a desire to do the will of the people. Does this sound to the reader like a description of your member of Congress? Can you name more than, say, two such members to whom those attributes apply?

But is there a silver lining in this black cloud? The reader already knows that the answer to that is a resounding ‘No!’, but let’s all play along for a few minutes. As Pompeo’s replacement, the CIA will, for the first time in history, have a woman at its helm. Oh, another smashing of the glass ceiling! Isn’t that a good thing?

No, it is not. While this writer has no problem with a woman in any role in business, government, or another environment, he has a major problem with Gina Haspel serving anything but prison time. She ran the CIA’s torture unit, which involved methods condemned by the international community and illegal even by U.S. standards, although the U.S. government only follows the rules when it feels like it. During Haspel’s reign of terror, such rules were dismissed. Haspel even destroyed videotaped evidence of the torture she allowed. She does seem like an ideal choice to head the CIA, considering its terroristic mandate.

But what of Pompeo? Like Trump, he disdains the JCPOA, and wants it ‘improved’ or dismissed. It might be useful (although probably not) to inform him that once an agreement has been signed by all pertinent parties, one party can request some adjustments, but must adhere to the agreement as signed unless and until such proposed adjustments are made. But if the other parties do not wish to alter the agreement, all parties must still abide by its terms. The fact that an agreement was signed under one administration does not change the fact that it is law; President Barack Obama signed the JCPOA representing not himself, but the United States. This is true with all international agreements.

Pompeo might also wish to think twice before using CIA tactics against Iran. Grabbing the tiger by the tail is never advisable, especially when said tiger has sharp teeth of its own, and some friends with an even more deadly bite. Regarding the JCPOA, he said this: “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.” It amazes this writer that the CIA director has the nerve to call any country other than the U.S. “the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism”.  He’s grabbing the tiger’s tale with one hand, and poking it with a stick with the other.  Not a bright move.

On the topic of the Big Bad Wolf of Russia, he said this: “There’s a long history of Russian efforts to influence the United States.” Could we substitute the world ‘Israeli’ for ‘Russian’, and see how that fits? Or what about U.S. efforts to ‘influence’ other nations, by arming, training and financing terrorists in those nations?

Recently, Trump agreed to meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Pompeo said these pearls of wisdom regarding North Korea: “We are going to work hard to make sure that we get what it is the president has set out very clearly for his entire time in office, which is the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of North Korea.”  One might ask why a representative from the country with the largest, and growing, nuclear stockpile on the planet, the only country that has ever used nuclear weapons (against a civilian population, no less), would have the gall to demand that another country denuclearize. And Pompeo conveniently forgets, or doesn’t know or care, that the U.S. decimated North Korea in the early 1950’s, and North Korean leadership, like the leadership of every country on the planet, has both the right and responsibility to do what is necessary to protect its citizens. With the U.S.’s history of extreme, barbaric violence against North Korea, why on earth would that country ever agree to give up its nuclear weapons?

While Pompeo and Haspel look like disasters for human rights and international law, one can take some minimal comfort in knowing that they are entering the Trump house of horrors, where one’s tenure can last from a number of days to a number of months. While there is untold damage they can do in that time, including causing the complete annihilation of all life on earth, one hopes that their time in their positions will be too limited for them to cause such a disaster. However, as mentioned, that is only of minimal comfort. This writer will not sleep too well at night.

 

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Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

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