Pompeo, in an Evening With the Sun, Warns of Growing Chinese Leverage at American Universities

The former secretary of state believes war in Ukraine will, like most wars, end in negotiations.

The New York Sun via Dovid Efune
The New York Sun publisher, Dovid Efune, interviews the former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, at Scandinavia House, New York, January 22, 2023. The New York Sun via Dovid Efune

The only man to serve as both director of central intelligence and secretary of state — Michael “Mike” Pompeo — joined the Founders of the Sun on a rain-lashed winter’s night to discuss America’s role in the world and, inevitably, what he termed the 2024 presidential “donnybrook.”

Interviewed on stage at Scandinavia House by the publisher of the Sun, Dovid Efune, Mr. Pompeo described himself as a “conservative Evangelical Christian” who “ran a machine-shop at Wichita” and who became America’s chief spy and top diplomat under President Trump, who he termed a “great boss.”

Mr. Pompeo drew a sharp contrast with his predecessor at Foggy Bottom, Rex Tillerson, whom he claimed “wanted to stay” in the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran — but one symptom of a larger malady of “risk-averseness” that plagued the tail end of the Obama administration. The lawyers at Foggy Bottom, he claimed, have come “unmoored from the American tradition of human rights.” 

Mr. Pompeo called the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, a “terrorist” and noted that humanitarian organizations like Human Rights Watch contributed “literally zero” to furthering American interests, though he did allow for certain “tactical” uses for non-governmental organizations. 

Looking to the east, Mr. Pompeo predicted that the war in Ukraine, “like most wars,” will end with a “negotiated solution.” He predicts that “someday Putin will do something even stupider,” like use a tactical nuclear weapon. American deterrence will be needed to halt Mr. Putin’s aim, which is to “recapture Europe.”

Mr. Pompeo hit his stride in explicating the threat from communist China. He noted that “no American university would exist today” without Chinese money, and argued that the 360,000 Chinese students currently studying at those universities, many of them paying “full freight,” were a point of leverage and information for the Beijing regime.

The former secretary of state labeled the communist leader, Xi Jinping, the “most dangerous man in the world” and pegged the chances of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan at “10-15 percent,” though he figured a kind of political annexation is more likely than a brute force capture.

In the Middle East, Mr. Pompeo sees “all upside” in America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, observing that the hopes of the young women of that country for a regime on speaking terms with modernity rest entirely on Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Not to be gainsaid is Saudi Arabia’s strategic importance for Israel. 

Speaking of the Jewish state, Mr. Pompeo invoked his faith to say that “as an evangelical Christian, you can’t walk away from this place.” He commented on the synergy between the CIA and Mossad, distilled in the close relationship between him and his counterpart, Yossi Cohen.

Mr. Pompeo was blunt in dishing on fellow Trump administration alumni, particularly the national security adviser, John Bolton, who he thought “should be in prison” for writing a tell-all memoir, “The Room Where It Happened,” which potentially included classified material. The Department of Justice dropped a case against Mr. Bolton that would have seized profits from the work. 

Mr. Pompeo was more complimentary of Vice President Pence — he called him a “prince” — and rated his working relation with Ambassador Davied Friedman a “13 out of 10.” Together they moved the American embassy to Jerusalem, recognized American sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and shifted the paradigm on Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. 

As for his 2024 prospects, Mr. Pompeo dodged the question, eliciting a chuckle from the audience. The event wrapped up with Messrs. Pompeo and Efune signaling a shared commitment to a policy and press committed to America’s greatness.

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Correction: Mr. Pompeo put the chances of war between China and Taiwan at between 10 and 15 percent. It was misstated in the bulldog.


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