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Mike Pompeo’s Evil Empire Speech at the Nixon Library on China Is Missing Historical Context

Secretary Pompeo Participates in a Television Interview with Danish Broadcasting Corporation

In a historic speech yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a blistering attack on China at the Nixon Library in California–talk about a location choice, wow–that has already raised quite a few eyebrows all over the Washington, D.C. foreign policy community, the news media and clearly in Beijing.

The video can be seen here and a transcript is already out. Special attention should be given to Hugh Hewitt’s Q&A session afterward, but let me get back to that in a moment.

While the speech itself needs to be read in its entirety, Pompeo’s remarks, a coordinated effort to recalibrate U.S. foreign policy towards China in a number of different speeches over the last few weeks by other senior Trump Administration officials, clearly means only one thing: America has moved from an engagement and peaceful competition with Beijing to what can only be described as a 21st century of version of Cold War-style containment. Pompeo clearly meant for his remarks to be interpreted as the ‘evil empire’ speech of 2020–and it should be seen as such.

None of this should serve as a shock to anyone who watches China for a living, as such remarks have been coming out of the Trump Administration for some time now along with matching aggressive actions on trade, intellectual property thefts as well as rebuilding U.S. military posture throughout Asia to meet this challenge.

For the most part, I agree with what the Trump Administration is doing, as the rise of China–and the actions it has taken to increase its overall economic, military and diplomatic might–over the last two decades represent a clear and present danger to American interests. Beijing’s quest to not only dominate the Asia-Pacific but larger Indo-Pacific region is not something Washington can be silent about anymore, and I think the aggressive rhetorical and policy approach is warranted.

However, there is one weakness in the remarks that made the speech seem a little strange. While Pompeo was careful not to outright attack former President Nixon for his decision to engage with China, there was no mention of the reasons for why Nixon and Henry Kissinger made this historic move–and I would argue the right move for the time. Pompeo does quote a 1967 Foreign Affairs piece that, at least he believes, was Nixon’s stated reason for engaging with China:

“Taking the long view, we simply cannot afford to leave China forever outside of the family of nations…The world cannot be safe until China changes. Thus, our aim – to the extent we can, we must influence events. Our goal should be to induce change [emphasis mine].”

Foreign policy realists throughout history are great at using rhetorical flash, the citing of universal norms along with goals many aspire to hide their naked geopolitical ambitions–it makes such machiavellian aspirations more easily tolerable in today’s world, a sort of moralistic blanket to hide their real intentions. In this case, clearly Nixon, knowing the U.S. was struggling thanks to the large financial and military commitments needed to sustain the Vietnam War and, most important of all, a Soviet Union that seemed on the march anywhere needed to be checked. And the best way to do that to anyone who had access to a map and some context of recent history was China. Nixon did not seek to change China as Pompeo suggests, but Beijing and Washington agreed to squash their own problems because they both saw the rise of Soviet power as a bigger threat to their shared mutual interests.

Back to Hugh Hewitt. Hewitt, to his credit, I think sensed this lack of historical context in Pompeo’s remarks, and seems to give him a way to clean that up, asking Pompeo in the opening question:

“My first question has to do with the context of the president’s visit in 1972. You mentioned the Soviet Union was isolated, but it was dangerous. He went to the People’s Republic of China in 1972 to try and ally and combine interests with them against the Soviet Union; it was successful. Does Russia present an opportunity now to the United States to coax them into the battle to be relentlessly candid about the Chinese Communist Party?”

Pompeo replied:

“So I do think there’s that opportunity. That opportunity is born of the relationship, the natural relationship between Russia and China, and we can do something as well. There are places where we need to work with Russia. Today – or tomorrow, I guess it is, our teams will be on the ground with the Russians working on a strategic dialogue to hopefully create the next generation of arms control agreements like Reagan did. It’s in our interest, it’s in Russia’s interest. We’ve asked the Chinese to participate. They’ve declined to date. We hope they’ll change their mind.

It’s these kind of things – these proliferation issues, these big strategic challenges – that if we work alongside Russia, I’m convinced we can make the world safer. And so there – I think there is a place for us to work with the Russians to achieve a more likely outcome of peace not only for the United States but for the world.”

While such a speech, clearly meant to be a line in the sand against Chinese actions does not have to be perfect, it does need to make sure it encompasses why Nixon wanted better relations with China: the rise of Soviet power and a widespread belief America was in decline.

Ok, so you might not want to talk about decline, I get that. But missing the rise of Soviet might is pretty important and a big miss. We should all keep that in mind, as America has ample ways to use alliances and partnerships with nations that we may not exactly align with naturally to contain China‘s own rise. I worry we lose sight when we forget why Nixon and Kissinger made the foreign policy choices they did.

Written By

Harry J. Kazianis (@Grecianformula) serves as President and CEO of Rogue States Project, a bipartisan national security think tank. He has held senior positions at the Center for the National Interest, the Heritage Foundation, the Potomac Foundation, and many other think tanks and academic institutions focused on defense issues. He served on the Russia task force for U.S. Presidential Candidate Senator Ted Cruz, and in a similar task force in the John Hay Initiative. His ideas have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, CNN, CNBC, and many other outlets across the political spectrum. He holds a graduate degree in International Relations from Harvard University and is the author of The Tao of A2/AD, a study of Chinese military modernization. Kazianis also has a background in defense journalism, having served as Editor-In-Chief at The Diplomat and Executive Editor for the National Interest.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Willie Wong

    September 27, 2020 at 6:01 am


    1.YES. “U.S. engagement with China is a dismal failure,” not because President Nixon’s grand China policy was a failure; but because all the successors of President Nixon did not and do not follow his step in seeking a “just and lasting peace” for the world. All Nixon’s successors, both Democratic and Republican presidents, and American politicians of both parties have relentlessly and persistently sought “absolute military supremacy in order to have world dictatorship and domination.” The American president and politicians, without doubt, want to continuously dictate and dominate the world. They threaten other nations with their strongest military power and largest nuclear weapons. That was not Nixon’s policy. They maintain and reinforce America as the sole evil empire in the world, no more a Republic. What the former presidents and current president have been doing since Nixon are an open book, although they may shamelessly lie, misrepresent and distort history. For they are expert in deception. The current president is a diabolical demagogue, proven shameless liar, and a useless warmonger. He is a disgrace to the Republican Party, to America, to all patriotic Americans. There is no need to provide all the facts and evidence of his evil deeds and schemes, they will be voluminous and encyclopedic. His agent Pompous Pompeo is nothing but a low grade and lack luster diplomat trying desperately to copy John Foster Dulles the architect of Cold War. They are like comets which will disappear in November rejected by majority of Americans. All you have to do is to watch the news on TV. American mass media are deliberately making so much fake and false news and they are hostile and biased against China, Russia, etc. There is no doubt, American president and politicians are leading America to the wrong path and to the path of self-destruction. They are oppressing peoples of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Venezuela, etc., and they can rise up to testify to the American war atrocities, injustice, and brutality. Millions of refugees can also rise up to testify against the American evil empire which has been established by American presidents and politicians since Nixon. Who are responsible for making America the most hated nation on earth. Why Japanese citizens do not want America to have military bases in Japan? Why Koreans do not want American military bases in Korea? Why Germany said No to America?

    2.The United Nations, the members of the United Nations, most reputable international institutions, and all nations of the world oppressed by the Axis of Evil led by America (excluding Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, UK, EU, NATO, etc.) can testify what the American government has done since Nixon. They can also testify what China has done since Nixon. The only nation on earth which has lifted up 750 million Chinese from poverty is China. The poor and backward country has become the second largest economy in the world by hard work and thrift. In comparison, the population of poor Americans has increased a great deal since Nixon. The Nixon era was the golden age of American history. In the last 40 years China has achieved most spectacular successes in all fields and fronts than any nation on earth. China has aided more than 100 nations without strings attached. Out of envy and jealousy, American presidents and politicians as well as European politicians target and treat China as an enemy. Why the whole world is worried about American unilateralism, including American European and Asian allies? Now America stands alone in the world in spite of its military might.

    3.Since Nixon’s trip to China, American presidents and politicians have attacked and engaged in numerous unjust wars and bloody military interventions to this day. Since Nixon, China has not attacked or occupied one single nation. On the contrary China has aided more than 100 nations in many ways, and most recently in helping many nations to fight against the CORONAVIRUS pandemic which the Pompous Pompeo (Pompeo’s piety or pomp is called tartuffery) and other politicians falsely accused China of inventing and spreading of the COVID-19. These malicious accusers have been discredited and denied by large group of impeccable international scientists and specialists. Why to call on nations to induce change in the Chinese government when Beijing’s actions never threaten Americans and our prosperity? China has never threatened the security and prosperity of any nation or its people. In fact, China trade has contributed greatly and tremendously to American prosperity. Why Chinese tourists are most welcome by all capitalistic nations? American farmers, retail business and others can testify to the benefit of China trade. China has changed for the better is the truth no honest man can deny. Ask most Americans has America changed for the worse since Nixon? This is a well-known fact for the whole world to see. Can America change from an evil empire back to a respectable Republic?

    4.American model of democracy has failed so miserably that a great number of Americans express their disapproval and disappointment in protests and demonstrations across the nation since the public murder of a black suspect by a white policeman televised life on TV. Ask yourself if American democracy is good and right, why so many Americans across the nation protest and demonstrate in demanding justice, equality and true freedom? Why does the American income disparity become the largest gap in the world? When one percent of population rules over the ninety nine percent, do you call it democracy and freedom? When presidents and politicians incur the largest deficits and debts in the world, is that demonstrating America succeeding? How can there be unrest on American streets in so many cities across America if the American democracy is a glorious success? Why does the Homeland Security powers turn against Americans? Why chaos in Hong Kong is a shining scene, but chaos in America is not. Why do most Americans think China has done well to protect its people from CORONAVIRUS pandemic, while most Americans do not believe their government has done a good job in protecting Americans?

    5.Be honest, and study history. You will find out Western powers, Great Britain, Japan, and the United States have wronged China too many times since the infamous Opium Wars. Strangest phenomenon is the recent facts, that America, United Kingdom, Australia, Taiwan, etc. have planned and funded some young Chinese traitors and terrorists to create riots and terrorism in Hong Kong. Those Chinese terrorists killed, burned, looted, bombed, robbed, smashed doors and windows of public and private properties, created obstacles in public transportation, attacked and wounded police force, caused chaos, lawlessness, fear and unrest among Hong Kong residents and businesses for more than a year; the former U.S. presidents and current president and American and European politicians called those riots in Hong Kong a fight for freedom and cheered and applauded those anarchists and criminals. Now that China has enacted a national security law to protect Hong Kong and its sovereignty, the evil legacy of British empire which never practiced democracy or freedom in its colonies, America, and others hypocritically say that Hong Kong is losing democracy and freedom. America, UK, Australia, New Zealand, EU, Canada, etc. have violated the sovereignty of China and interfered in China’s internal affairs without shame or reason. In comparison with the recent demonstrations and protests conducted by Americans across the country after a black man was killed in public on TV by a white policeman and with Hong Kong riots; the City of Portland is a case in point. The mayor was among the crowds hit by tear gas. The federal agents are armed well like the military. The current president calls those American protesters “thugs”, “terrorists”, “anarchists”, etc. Well are they not American freedom fighters all over the country? When terrorists did evil in Hong Kong Western politicians called them freedom fighters. When Americans protest and demonstrate against injustice and government corruption they are called thugs, terrorists and anarchists. This double standard and duplicity would even embarrass the devil.

    6.The United States is the only nation which is having military bases all over the world to target China and Russia with the largest quantity of weapons of mass destruction. America is daily conducting military exercises and operations in China’s and Russian air space and territorial waters threatening the peace and stability of the world, how is that they call it China threat and Russia threat? No China plane or warship ever get close to American east and west coast. The increasing provocative and oppressive military, diplomatic, trade, economic, financial, technological, etc. actions against China and Russia, etc. loom large in the horizon that an all out nuclear war is preparing and leading by the United States. Can any honest, conscientious, and patriotic American say such American engagement is good to America and good to the world? Do you see American president and politicians are committing suicide by leading America and the world to the brink of total destruction? Who has the truth and standing in the truth? Let the God of Righteousness be the Judge, and let Americans have the right to form their own opinion without fear or retaliation. Do Americans want an Imperial America or a respected Republic?

    7.Jesus says, Mat 12:36, “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the Day of Judgment.” The Day of Judgment is coming. How can European and American imperialists and colonialists and Japanese militarists give an accounting for what they have done to the world in the last 500 years or more in terms of genocide, massacre, mass slaughter, slave labor, sex slavery, robbery, burning, torture, looting, oppression, exploitation, occupation, etc. The Judge of the Living and Dead may ask American and European politicians about the so-called China virus, China threat, etc.

    8. With boldness I predict the incumbent will lose big in the November presidential election, not because his opponent is good (I will never vote for Biden), but because the great majority of American voters are disgusted and distressed with the wrong national policies, black lies, special interests that dominate America, incompetent leadership, and dismal failures of the incumbent. 80% of Americans think America is going in the wrong direction. This does not mean Biden and the Democratic Party have the right national policy and leading the nation to the right direction. This is the great tragedy of the American state of the Union. What nations want to follow America except Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, etc. which have their ulterior motive?
    9. Let the oppressed nations and impoverished peoples of the world rise up to form a New World Order. A New World Order where the days of white supremacy rule are numbered and over. A New Word Order where unilateralism is discarded, where imperialism is dead and buried, where black lies are on the run, and where multilateralism and justice will govern the world, and where nations and peoples will work together for the common good, for peace, progress and prosperity.

    10.The West has enjoyed power and wealth for the last 500 years. The whole world knows that Western democracy and freedom are big lies. What the United States and its allies are most afraid of is soon China will become the world number one economy and the Chinese citizens continuously enjoy so many rights and privileges, the world will naturally think the American model of government is a dismal failure, and that the Chinese model of government is the apparent great success that the whole world can see before their eyes. Consequently, the new world order has peacefully overthrown the Western supremacy and begun a new age where each nation big or small may decide which model they want to adopt and which system of government they feel comfortable to live under. The days of Western aggression and domination are over.

    Willie Wong, 7/31/2020

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