US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi in Baghdad, during a Middle East tour, Iraq, January 9, 2019.
(photo credit: ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/REUTERS)
The man who, in my estimation, holds the title of one of the greatest secretaries of state ever, made a trip to the Middle East earlier this month. Mike Pompeo stopped in Cairo to speak to the students and faculty at the American University in Cairo. He said, and I quote, “America is a force for good in the Middle East.”
This was unlike president Barack Obama who stood before a group in Cairo and declared: “The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.”
The translation of that bit of rhetoric seems to be that the US was responsible for every ill to beset the Muslim world. Nothing could be further from the truth. Americans have never been interested in nation-building.
As Pompeo reiterated to the assembly: “In falsely seeing ourselves as a force for what ails the Middle East, we were timid in asserting ourselves when the times and our partners demanded it. We grossly underestimated the tenacity and viciousness of radical Islamism – a debauched strain with a faith that seeks to upend every other form of worship or governance. ISIS drove to the outskirts of Baghdad as America hesitated.'
As an Evangelical Christian, Pompeo can easily see the historic damage that was done by Mr. Obama’s speech made during what was later dubbed his “apology tour.” The secretary of state recounted that the US, rather than being a force for evil in the Middle East’s Muslim community, was interested only in standing with the Arab people and helping to develop a safe, economically prosperous environment, assuring freedom for future generations.
Mr. Pompeo was quick to compliment President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for his actions that literally saved Egypt from the corrupting influence of the Muslim Brotherhood. During his campaign as prospective president of Egypt, and after the overthrow and arrest of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, Sisi declared, “There will be nothing called the Muslim Brotherhood during my tenure.” He has kept that promise, and Pompeo thanked him for his courage and tenacity.
It was my honor to meet with and interview Egypt’s President Sisi during recent visits to Cairo. There is no doubt in my mind that no other world leader has more effectively won the ideological war against radical Islam. It is astonishing how he came to govern during the most trying time for that Middle Eastern country.
Also, while speaking at the university, Secretary Pompeo congratulated President Sisi on his diligent efforts to endorse freedom of religion in Egypt. On January 7, 2019, the Nativity of the Christ Cathedral (the largest Coptic Christian church in Egypt) was dedicated. President Sisi, who commissioned the building as a gift, said it was “a message of peace and love to the world.”
His was, said Pompeo, “an example for all leaders and all peoples of the Middle East.” President Trump tweeted his enthusiasm: “Excited to see our friends in Egypt opening the biggest Cathedral in the Middle East. President El-Sisi is moving his country to a more inclusive future!”
Secretary of State Pompeo made the tour of the Middle East not to apologize for perceived sins, but to reassure leaders that the US is dedicated to defending her allies, stopping ISIS, and aiding in economic development. Rather than denigrating his homeland, Pompeo struck just the right note of standing firm in the commitment to provide aid, while at the same time persisting in the fight against fanatical Islamism. The writer is a #1 New York Times bestselling author with 89 published books. He is the founder of Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem and serves on the Trump Evangelical Faith Initiative.
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