Wrong strategic mind-set makes Pompeo the most unsuccessful US state secretary ever
Published: Nov 01, 2020 09:33 PM

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo File photo: AFP

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is the most unsuccessful top diplomat of the US ever compared to his predecessors, and the tour that he just concluded to five Asian countries to peddle his anti-China ideas is just a coda to his failed career, said Chinese analysts on Sunday.

Pompeo has brought no significant achievements for US diplomacy in his term but has only made Washington more and more isolated. Now, most countries around the globe, even US allies, have noticed that they should distance themselves from the current administration, especially a few days before the contentious US presidential election. 

Most of them understand that they should not be used by the US to harm their ties with China, because they have broader cooperation with China that closely and deeply affects their future development, said experts.

Pompeo wrapped up a five-nation tour of Asia in Vietnam Friday, repeating his well-known anti-China theme. The top US diplomat also made a point of reinforcing what is called the "US support in pushing back on China" during earlier stops in India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia, the VOA reported.

But according to media reports, most of these countries showed no clear and sound response to echo Pompeo's Cold War-style anti-China initiative.

Lü Xiang, a research fellow on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday that the reason why Pompeo had failed is that the Cold War-style strategic intention is wrong and outdated in the modern world.  

"Forcing members of the international community to take sides between the two dominant economic powers in a globalized world where the economies of different countries are deeply intertwined is doomed to fail," he said.

Pompeo's attempts to harangue Asian nations into an ideological anti-China alliance have borne little fruit, the Diplomat reported on Friday. The most pointed example of this came from Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, who said during a joint news briefing with Pompeo that "Sri Lanka is a neutral, non-aligned country, committed to peace. We hope to continue with our relations with the United States and other countries."  

Lin Minwang, deputy director of the Center for South Asian Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said that South Asian countries like Sri Lanka, which are located along the routes of China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, understand who are their real friends and partners. They do not need to be lectured by Pompeo at all.

Lin said, "China has full confidence in Sri Lanka. The leaders and the people of the country have already learned that the US and India can offer nothing useful for them. China has effectively helped the country restore peace and order after the civil war. It has provided significant assistance for post-war reconstruction and brought concrete interests for their economic development, so it is impossible for the country to be fooled and used by the US."

In a similar vein, this sentiment was also demonstrated by the Indonesian government's recent rebuffing of an American request to base P-8 Poseidon spy planes in the country. As Indonesia's Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi put it last month, "we don't want to get trapped by this rivalry."   

Following her meeting with Pompeo this week, Marsudi(???) said, "I re-emphasized the need to pursue inclusive cooperation amid this challenging time, and I underlined the need for every country to be part of the solution in the collective contribution toward world peace, stability and prosperity," Indonesian media the Jakarta Post reported on Friday.

Chinese embassies in Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, the Maldives and Vietnam refuted  comments made by Pompeo, who smeared China in every country he visited in Asia in an attempt to sow discord between China and his host country.

Chinese analysts said this shows China's confidence and resolve in safeguarding its legitimate interests in these countries from the US stigmatization and interruption.

Liu Zongyi, secretary-general of the Research Center for China-South Asia Cooperation at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, told the Global Times on Sunday, "Vietnam needs US support in the South China Sea gambling with China. But Pompeo has always shouted his anti-Communist views when criticizing China, so this could bring threats to Vietnam's ruling party as well." This makes his trip to Hanoi look awkward, Liu noted.

Pompeo's bad reputation and personality are another reason why his trip was a failure at the potential conclusion of his diplomatic career, said Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations of the China Foreign Affairs University, noting that in Europe and many other regions, the media even called him "the worst US secretary of state ever." 

Many countries have learned that standing too close to the US brings no positive outcome, said Chinese analysts. 

"After causing chaos in a country or instigating regional conflicts, the US will step out of it immediately and leave the mess to the local people. This scenario played out in the cases of Ukraine and the Kurds in the Middle East, for example," Li told the Global Times on Sunday.

A key reason why Pompeo's latest Asia trip turns out to be unsuccessful is that the US election day on Tuesday (US time) is near, and before a possible power transition of the US, no one, including the US allies, dares to stand too close to the current administration, Lü said

"No matter who wins, Trump or Joe Biden, they will need to make changes to foreign policy. Pompeo will not have a chance to stay in the position as he has proved that he is unqualified for the job and his reputation in the US is terrible. President Donald Trump also knows his loyalty is not reliable," Lü noted.

Pompeo is now under investigation for potentially violating a federal law that forbids federal employees from engaging in political activity while on duty or while inside federal buildings over his address to the Republican convention in August, CNN reported on Tuesday.

As a former head of the CIA, Pompeo is a non-traditional diplomat in the circle of professional diplomats in Washington, said Chinese analysts.

Pompeo is definitely the most unsuccessful and unwelcomed US secretary of state ever, and this is something even many US elites would agree on. The reason why Chinese experts say so is not his anti-China stance, but "the low tricks he played and the poor remarks he made," Lü said.

In history, whether before or after the establishment of formal diplomatic ties between China and the US, some secretaries of state also had strong anti-China stances or made troubles for China, like John Dulles and Hillary Clinton.

At least China treats them as qualified rivals and professional diplomats, Lü further said, adding that Pompeo is "not a qualified adversary for China at all."