Pompeo on Trump’s Worldview

Key points in this article:

  • Trump thinks we need to reset the world order established after WWII
  • Trump’s view of Russia is different to Obama’s
  • Japan should contribute to the establishment of a forward-looking world order

Mainstream media is still critical of U.S. President Donald Trump’s policies on trade and North Korea.

Jacob Heilbrunn, editor of the National Interest claims that “The result of Trump’s impetuosity . . . is that he is hastening, not retarding, the advent of the post-American era.”

But is the U.S. really going to decline?

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s interview with political scientist Walter Russell Mead gives us the answer (published by the Wall Street Journal on 25th June). “Mr. Pompeo says his most important daily task is to understand what the president is thinking,” Mead explains. “Mr. Pompeo believes that Mr. Trump’s instincts, preferences, and beliefs constitute a coherent worldview.”

Let us now compare media criticisms of Trump’s policies with what Pompeo said in the interview.


Not a Destroyer, But a Reviser

Perhaps the most striking point in the interview was when Pompeo said that Trump has “properly identified a need for a reset” of the world order developed in the aftermath of WWII.

The article runs as follows:

Mr. Trump is suspicious of global institutions and alliances, many of which he believes are no longer paying dividends for the U.S. “When I watch President Trump give guidance to our team,” Mr. Pompeo says, “his question is always, ‘How does that structure impact America?’ ” The president isn’t interested in how a given rule “may have impacted America in the ’60s or the ’80s, or even the early 2000s,” but rather how it will enhance American power “in 2018 and beyond.”

In other words, Trump is not the destroyer of the current liberal world order, but is a reviser: he is trying to revise the liberal notion with an eye for the future.


Shifts Focus From Counterterrorism to World War Prevention

“Today, while counterterrorism remains a priority, geopolitics is increasingly defined by conflicts with powerful states like China and Russia,” writes Mead.

During the Obama administration a lot of importance was placed on counterterrorism policies against, for instance, the Taliban. Trump, however, places more importance on the prevention of conflict between powerful states. Part of this plan was the New National Defense Strategy unveiled in January.

It even explicitly states that, “Inter-state [between different countries] strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in U.S. national security.” It is a complete turnaround of the Obama administration’s approach.


Foresight and Opinions on Russia

What is essential here is to reconstruct alliances.

The U.S. is critical of Russia’s revisionism and, in the interview, Pompeo admitted that “There are many things about which we disagree. Our value sets are incredibly different, but there are also pockets where we find overlap. That’s the challenge for a secretary of state—to identify those places where you can work together, while protecting America against the worst pieces of those governments’ activities.”

Trump sent his National Security Advisor John Bolton to Russia, and later announced that he will be holding a summit with Putin in the Finnish capital of Helsinki on 16th July. They plan to discuss the Syria problem. This move also shows Trump’s keen eye for the future.

In contrast, in 2013, during Obama’s presidency, the U.S. failed to take military action against Syria when President Assad used chemical weapons against his own people. This led to greater involvement by Russia in Syria. Then, in 2014, the U.S. failed to respond to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Since that time, the Obama administration, haunted by memories of the Cold War, decided to erase Russia from its view of the world order.

Trump, on the other hand, proposed that Russia return to the G7. If the G8 is restored, it will be a huge step in the establishment of a new world order.


Trump Withdraws From Iran Nuclear Deal to Encourage Peace

In May the U.S. announced that it will withdraw from the Iran Nuclear Deal and warned allies to wind down imports of Iranian oil in preparation for coming U.S. sanctions. Trump said that, “We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction. Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States.”

Trump will lay a major ‘siege’ on Iran by cutting off the income from its most important asset.

On the 28th Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun issued the headline “World In Disarray Over U.S. Request”, but considering that Iran is procuring nuclear and missile technology from North Korea and is steadily developing a 10,000km range missile, the situation is critical.

Additionally, Trump’s crystal clear stance against Iran is an emphatic reversal of Obama’s Iran policy, and is a strategy of regaining the trust of Sunni Islam countries such as Israel and Saudi Arabia. It is another step toward the creation of a new order in the Middle East.

Trump’s moves may appear Hobbesian, but he is clearly trying to use pressure as a method to bring about an eventual peace.


Trump’s World Order Is Based on Rules

In the interview with Mead, Pompeo mentioned a “rules-based structure”:

[Pompeo] wants the U.S. relationship with China to be defined by rule-writing and rule-enforcing, not anarchic struggle . . . The U.S. can’t simply focus on “a tariff issue today, or a particular island China has decided to militarize” tomorrow. Rather, the objective must be to create a rules-based structure to avoid a situation in which “zero-sum is the endgame for the two countries.”

So Trump’s America First policy is not the arbitrary selfish approach that the mainstream media makes it out to be. As Pompeo emphasized, China hasn’t honored “the normal set of trade understandings . . . where these nation states would trade with each other on fair and reciprocal terms; they just simply haven’t done it.”

China is importing the latest U.S. technology to try to monopolize 80% of the industry by 2025. Considering the disadvantages the U.S. is already under with export customs taxes, this is a huge blow to the U.S. market. If we do not stop China’s cultivation of the high tech industry it will mean handing predominance of the whole industry over to China. It is worth facing criticism to prevent this situation by imposing trade tariffs on the high tech industry.


Trump understands the Importance of U.S. Leadership

The current WTO does not have the power to protect fairness.

For instance, if we were to count the number of appeals made to the WTO by free trade supporters, those from the U.S. would be far less than those from China. This is because U.S. industries either feel politically threatened by China or want to protect their shares in the Chinese market. The WTO is bureaucratic institution with an ostrich policy. No one would dream of going to them for help with a free trade problem.

Trump keeps playing strong cards, but he is actually showing China what it means to play by the rules instead of thinking it can rule the world through brute force. He is trying to teach them what civilization is.

Without the rule of law there is no freedom. Trump is protecting this free civilization.

Pompeo’s account of Trump revealed a man who, far from leading the U.S. into decline, perfectly understands the importance of U.S. leadership.


Japan Must Approach Diplomacy and World Order With Foresight too

What can Japan do? If Japan has any intention of protecting the free civilization, it must not cooperate with the “One Belt, One Road” policy. China has constructed seaports in Greece, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and has introduced surveillance systems in Pakistan, Sudan and Ethiopia under the banner of ‘infrastructure maintenance’. Its project of turning the whole world into a surveillance society is in full swing.

There is another pitfall for Japan in its relations with Russia and North Korea. Its obsession with the territorial and abduction problems with these countries will cause it to be isolated from the international community. Japan must look to the future: to what sort of world order is required in 2018 and beyond, just like Trump is.

Media reports are so caught up in Trump’s outward manner that they are blinded from the heart of the matter. Smaller countries tend to be overly flexible, fall into the trap of choosing the wrong side, and end up collapsing.

Japan must see Trump’s true intentions, and cooperate with him in creating a future world order built on freedom and fairness.

Pompeo on Trump’s Worldview
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