Pompeo's Disgraceful Fanaticism

If one wants to find pretexts for refusing diplomacy with another country, one will always find them.

Mike Pompeo really hates successful diplomacy:

Foolishly, the Obama administration tried to appease Iran into good behavior by agreeing to the nuclear deal in 2015. 

Pompeo’s talk of appeasement is typical hawkish nonsense, and it is important to understand why it is wrong. The U.S. and the rest of the P5+1 negotiated with Iran to get their government to agree to extensive restrictions on their nuclear program. Iran’s government agreed to these restrictions in order to obtain sanctions relief, and then they proceeded to fulfill their commitments under the nuclear deal and fully complied with the terms of the agreement for more than three years. Even now Iran remains a party to the agreement and would not have reduced its compliance had it not been for the idiotic and destructive “maximum pressure” campaign that Pompeo thinks is so wonderful. On the nuclear issue, Iran chose to behave constructively in exchange for sanctions relief. The Obama administration’s willingness to compromise and deal with the Iranian government achieved what a decade of threats and pressure alone could not. The “appeasement” Pompeo sneers at delivered the most successful nonproliferation agreement on record. Iran said yes to most of what the U.S. and the others were asking, and Pompeo is enraged that they benefited even a little from their cooperation. In truth, it was Iran that was appeasing the U.S. and the other major powers. After all, it was Iran that made all the major concessions. All that the U.S. did was stop blocking their access to their own money and to stop blocking their ability to trade normally with others. If that’s what “appeasement” looks like, we should have lots more of it.

Pompeo’s objection to the agreement is that it granted Iran sanctions relief. That was always going to be the price of Iranian concessions on the nuclear issue. Whining about sanctions relief amounts to admitting that you never want to lift sanctions no matter what terms Iran accepts. It is the same as saying that you will never support any agreement with Iran, no matter what the terms are, because an agreement would require letting Iran get something in return. For a fanatic like Pompeo, allowing the weaker state to have anything, even its own money, is unacceptable. That just goes to show how deranged and extreme Pompeo is. It tells us nothing about the merits of the JCPOA or Biden’s very slow effort to rejoin it. It is risible when Pompeo claims that Biden is “racing to repeal sanctions.” This will come as a surprise to everyone paying the slightest attention to negotiations in Vienna. If Biden is racing, he is moving at a distinctly terrapin pace.

To make his rant even more obnoxious, Pompeo waves the bloody shirt of the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing to make it seem as if negotiating with the government believed to be responsible for that attack is inherently illegitimate. According to this bizarre standard, the U.S. must not enter into agreements with any government that is responsible for killing Americans at any point in the past. Somehow I doubt that Pompeo applies this standard quite so rigorously to the Israeli government despite its responsibility for killing 34 sailors and wounding over a hundred more aboard the USS Liberty in 1967, and I’ll bet he doesn’t hold the Vietnamese government to the same standard despite the tens of thousands of Americans killed during our war with them. Pompeo didn’t seem too put out by the possible involvement of Saudi officials in the 9/11 attacks when he was yukking it up with Mohammed bin Salman and covering up for his crimes. Should the Iranian government refuse to make deals with the government that killed everyone on Iran Air Flight 655 in 1988? Should Iranian leaders reject diplomacy with the U.S. because of our government’s support for the Iraqi invasion of their country in 1980?

This is an insane standard that is never applied to other governments that have taken the lives of many more Americans in the past. It shows the extent to which Iran hawks are motivated by irrational hostility to a country that hasn’t actually done that much to hurt the United States and lacks the ability to threaten us. If one wants to find pretexts for refusing diplomacy with another country, one will always find them. If one wishes to set aside old grievances and find workable compromises that benefit both countries, one can always do that, too. Pompeo would rather stoke bitterness, resentment, and conflict.

Exploiting the memory of the deaths of American servicemen to promote a confrontational agenda that makes another unnecessary war more likely is disgraceful and low, but then that is what we have come to expect from Mike Pompeo.