16 February 2020   Leave a comment

In a breathtaking act of hypocrisy, the Trump Administration has decided to defund its contribution to a State Department program created to honor the memory of Ambassador Christopher Stevens who was killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya in 2012. The current US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, made headlines at the time by his relentless attacks on the then-Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, for what Pompeo described as putting “political expediency and politics ahead of the men and women on the ground”. The US House of Representative conducted three sets of hearings on the Benghazi tragedy and, at one point, subjected Secretary Clinton to an 11 hour grilling. Talk–grandstanding–is cheap.

Congressman Mike Pompeo and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

The Munich Security Conference is an annual event where analysts, governmental officials, and journalists get together and hold discussions about the state of security in various parts of the world. The topic this year was “Westlessness” and the question posed to the conference was whether the multilateral institutions created by liberal democracies after World War II are still relevant and useful. The report defines the “West” in these terms:

“Despite its widespread use as a shorthand for a community of mostly North American and European liberal democracies as well as a normative project, the ‘West’ is a concept that is not always easy to pin down. The ‘West’ has never been a monolithic concept but rather an amalgam of different traditions, the mix of which changed over time. Yet, for the past decades, the answer to the question what it was that kept the West together was straightforward: a commitment to liberal democracy and human rights, to a market-based economy, and to international cooperation in international institutions. Today, the meaning of the West is increasingly contested again. We are witnessing
‘the decay of ‘the West’ as a relatively cohesive geopolitical configuration anchoring a normative model of global order in which commitments to human rights, democracy, and the rule of law are central.'”

The report does an excellent job of framing the debate, quoting statespeople like Vladimir Putin and Viktor Orban, who have both argued that the liberal idea is no longer valid. On the other side, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, delivered a speech entitled “The West is Winning”. It is fair to say that the speech was not well-received by many in the audience, particularly by French President Macron who warned of a “weakening of the West.” Secretary Pompeo also displayed extraordinary chutzpah when he remarked:

“You know, just 15 days ago I was in Kyiv, Ukraine. I visited a hospital where Ukrainian service members who had been injured in the conflict, who had been wounded in the fight against Russian-backed aggression, were being convalesced. There was a young, brave warrior there – we had a conversation – who had sustained a serious injury and he was in significant pain. We spoke for a few moments. He, through the translator, told me that he was a captain. I reminded him that several decades ago I, too, was a captain.

“And as we were getting ready to leave, he got up. He grabbed his crutches. He moved across the room and he went to his wall locker, grabbed his uniform, pulled off his patch, and he handed me his unit logo. He told me to keep it; he wanted me to have it.

“That moment hit home for me. It reminded me that sovereignty is worth fighting for and that it’s real, that we’re all in this fight together.”

It is hard to believe that Pompeo would use the example of aid to Ukraine to prove the unshakable commitment of the US to freedom after the revelations about how the aid was used as a political weapon.

Posted February 16, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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