With Trump hunkered down and time running out, Mike Pompeo has been ‘laying landmines’ for Joe Biden

Mike Pompeo

Summary List Placement

President Donald Trump has been uncharacteristically quiet in the days since the January 6 riot in the US Capitol building.

Kicked off social media, and with few allies left, Trump has said little and been seen even less. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, however, has been busy, announcing a raft of policies that are widely seen as efforts to cement his own standing and to box in President-elect Joe Biden.

Trump has been largely hands-off on foreign policy, which has reflected the messy process to reach that policy, according to John Gans, a historian of US foreign policy and former speechwriter at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill.

“This has been a disorderly, chaotic administration from Day One, but I don’t think anybody would have expected it to have gotten to where it’s gotten in the past week to 10 days,” Gans told Insider.

Many of Trump’s diplomatic efforts have drawn scrutiny, but over three days this month, Pompeo unveiled four policy moves that drew swift and widespread backlash.

On January 9, the State Department announced that the US government should consider previous self-imposed restrictions on official contact with Taiwan “null and void.” On January 10, Pompeo announced that the State Department would designate Yemen’s Houthi rebels as a terrorist group.

On January 11, Pompeo said the State Department had designated Cuba a state sponsor of terror, returning it to the list five years after Obama removed it. On January 12, Pompeo claimed that Iran had become “the home base” for Al Qaeda, a dramatic and widely disputed assertion that many worry could be used a legal basis for military action.

With those measures, announced less than two weeks before leaving office, “Pompeo is continuing with reckless, politicized foreign-policy decisions,” rather than focusing “on facilitating a smooth and efficient transition,” Rep. Gregory Meeks, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told Insider in a statement.

“Pompeo’s policy announcements this week are more of the same kind of disastrous, rushed missteps that have characterized this administration’s catastrophic foreign policy from Day One,” Meeks added.

Laying landmines

Criticism has come from current and former officials as well as from overseas.

Cuba’s designation has been widely repudiated; Norway’s government called it “regrettable.” David Miliband, a former British lawmaker who now leads the International Rescue Committee, called the Houthi designation “pure diplomatic vandalism.” Together, the designations are a “salting of the earth before” Biden takes over, Paul Pillar, a former US intelligence official, wrote this week.

While many welcome a review of the US’s relationship with Taiwan — Taiwan itself praised the decision — the timing and nature of the change was criticized for opening Taipei to retaliation from Beijing, which sees Taiwan as a renegade province, and for politicizing that relationship.

“The idea that we should be looking at these types of issues is valid. …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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