Secretary of State Mike Pompeo certainly hit the John Kerry question out of the park. This occurred at a State Department briefing Friday, when a reporter asked about President Trump’s use of the word “illegal” to describe Mr. Kerry’s meetings with his Iranian counterpart. Mr. Pompeo said he would leave the legal determination to others, and then . . . whammo.
“What Secretary Kerry has done,” Mr. Pompeo said, “is unseemly and unprecedented.” He called it “a former secretary of state engaged with the world’s largest state sponsor of terror.” He noted that the reports of the unprecedented meetings had come from Mr. Kerry himself. “He was telling them to wait out this administration,” Mr. Pompeo said. “You can’t find precedent for this in U.S. history.”
“Secretary Kerry ought not to engage in that kind of behavior,” he said. It is, he pointed out, “inconsistent” with “what foreign policy of the United States is as directed by this president,” a reference to Mr. Trump. “And it is beyond inappropriate for him to be engaged in this.” Plus, too, he pointed out that Iran had just fired Katusha rockets at our embassy in Baghdad and our consulate at Basra.
“Actively undermining U.S. policy as a former secretary of state is,” Mr. Pompeo noted, “literally unheard of.”
We mark the point because it is important that the kind of thing Mr. Kerry has been doing not be normalized. The former secretary has certainly been trying to normalize it as he makes the rounds promoting his new memoir, “Every Day is Extra.” The other night on Bill Maher’s show “Real Time,” Mr. Kerry tried to liken his meetings with our Iranian foes to Henry Kissinger’s travels.
“Henry Kissinger for 40 years has been traveling to Russia, traveling to China, talking to their leaders,” Mr. Kerry told the comic. “There’s absolutely nothing unusual about it.” What a slimey attempt at self-justification. There have been no reports of Mr. Kissinger actively trying to undermine the foreign policy of any of his successors. Not even, in our experience, when he’s met with journalists.
So hats off to Mr. Pompeo for backing up President Trump in marking what Mr. Kerry is doing for what it is. The way to deal with foreign policy differences in our American system is not to treat with our enemies. It is to take our differences to the hustings and reason them out with the American people. That’s precisely what Mr. Trump did in respect of Iran in the 2016 election, which is the rock on which our foreign policy rests.