Pompeo in ’24 Is Underway

A new book makes the diplomat’s case for the White House.

AP/John Locher
The former Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, speaks at the annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition at Las Vegas. AP/John Locher

‘Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love’

By Mike Pompeo

Broadside Books, 464 pages 

The new book by former director of the central intelligence and secretary of state, Michael “Mike” Pompeo, brings into focus a man who believes his time in the national spotlight is just getting started. If he doesn’t pull punches, it is because he appears to be gearing up for the brawl of the 2024 presidential election. President Trump — a man Mr. Pompeo told the Sun is a “great boss” — looms, but his one time chief diplomat is counting the inches from Foggy Bottom to the White House.

“Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love” tells the story of a somewhat unlikely rise aided, in Mr. Pompeo’s faith filled phrases, by “His grace.” Born at Orange, California, he matriculated at West Point, graduated first in his class, before becoming a captain in the Army. Harvard Law school was next, followed by time in Kansas as a self-described “machine shop owner.” His businesses made aircraft parts.

It was Mr. Trump who raised Mr. Pompeo to high office, first at Langley, and then at State. During an administration known for turnover, he had staying power, serving right up to President Biden’s inauguration. His memoir leans more on perspiration than inspiration, eschewing flights of fancy for doggedness. No show horse, Mr. Pompeo writes himself as a workhorse who can, in one of his favorite verbs, “deliver” for America. 

More attuned to conviction than complexity, Mr. Pompeo upends Ambrose Bierce’s definition of a  diplomat as someone who goes abroad to lie for his country. Mr. Pompeo produces a blizzard of demarches and little else. A self-described “risk taker,” Mr. Pompeo credits his successes to plain thinking and bold acting. Orwell’s maxim that “to see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle” could double as Mr. Pompeo’s. In his words: “We led. We worked, we kept grinding.”

Mr. Pompeo calls Mr. Trump “a president who was willing to make bold moves to reverse bad foreign policy trends.” He calls his predecessor as head of the FBI, John Brennan, a “total disaster.” A check for “Obama” in the index yields “Apologize First,” “appeasement of Iran,” “disrespect for Israel,” and “limited support of Iranian Green Revolution.” In respect of President Biden he bemoans that power is back in the hands of “appeasers.”

Mr. Pompeo does not hesitate to turn his criticism on his own side. He asserts that former national security adviser John Bolton, a fellow hawk, “should be in jail for spilling classified information” in a tell-all while Mr. Trump was still in office, and hopes to “testify at a criminal trial” against him. He avers that “no national security team member was less of a pipehitter than Mr. Bolton,” who was “constantly scheming to win for himself.”

Another target is the former ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. Mr. Pompeo writes that the Turtle Bay envoy “flat-out threw in the towel after two years” in a job that is “far less important than people think.” He muses that she either took the job “simply to join Boeing’s board of directors” or to “protect her reputation from the inevitable so-called Trump taint.” He believes she was angling for the vice presidency.  

Mr. Pompeo is proud of the Abraham Accords executed under his watch. He believes those involved would have won a Nobel Prize if not for the “prejudices of milquetoast Scandinavian globalists.” He claims that he came “ever so close” to securing an agreement with Saudi Arabia, as well. The move of the American embassy to Jerusalem and recognition of Israeli sovereignty at the Golan Heights are lauded as departures from “stale thinking.”

Intriguingly, Mr. Pompeo alludes to a measure of tension with Prime Minister Netanyahu, otherwise described  as a bosom buddy. Regarding a claim by the premier that America and Israel had signed a formal mutual defense pact, Mr. Pompeo states that  “it was false” but that it was “a good story” for the PM, then enmeshed in a tight election. Mr. Pompeo insists that the faux pas “did not diminish” their partnership.

“Never Give an Inch” could refer to Mr. Pompeo’s attitude towards Communist China. He calls its leader, Xi Jinping, the “most dangerous man in the world” (the “greatest overall threat” to America is the head of the teachers’ union, Randi Weingarten). He judges that the CCP wants “100 percent of the pie” and that “Chinese bribes — legal and illegal — flood the world.” Threats related to China are “limitless.” He supports banning TikTok.

Mr. Trump apparently thought so highly of Mr. Pompeo that he floated the idea of the latter wearing a “dual hat,” meaning serving as both secretary of defense and secretary of state simultaneously, an idea Mr. Pompeo termed “nutty,” if not a little flattering. It is not hard to see why Messrs. Trump and Pompeo clicked. That bonhomie, it seems fair to say, will quickly evaporate should both of them bid for the same job.

The New York Sun

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