BRUSSELS — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the Trump administration’s “America First” foreign policy agenda while speaking in the European Union’s unofficial capital of Brussels on Tuesday.
“Every nation — every nation — must honestly acknowledge its responsibilities to its citizens and ask if the current international order serves the good of its people as well as it could,” Pompeo said in an address to the German Marshall Fund. “And if not, we must ask how we can right it.”
Pompeo pushed back against critics who claim the Trump administration was acting unilaterally instead of multilaterally, calling them “just plain wrong.”
“Multilateralism has become viewed as an end unto itself. The more treaties we sign, the safer we supposedly are. The more bureaucrats we have, the better the job gets done,” Pompeo argued. “Was that ever really true?”
Pointing to countries like Iran, Russia and China, Pompeo argued that violators of treaties need to be confronted and the treaties fixed or discarded.
“Bad actors have exploited our lack of leadership for their own gain,” Pompeo warned. “We welcomed China into the liberal order, but never policed its behavior."
He said that "Russia hasn’t embraced Western values of freedom and international cooperation" and added that "Iran has blatantly disregarded U.N. Security Council resolutions.”
Pompeo justified the America's withdrawal and renegotiation of international treaties and arrangements such as the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord as examples of agreements that don’t serve the interest of Washington or its allies.
President Donald Trump’s chief diplomat also held up the NATO alliance as an “indispensable” institution.
“All NATO allies should work to strengthen what is already the greatest military alliance in history,” said Pompeo. “Never has an alliance ever been so powerful or so peaceful, and our historic ties must continue."
Anticipating Pompeo’s address to Europe, E.U. High Representative Federica Mogherini addressed similar themes during a visit to Harvard University.
“We continue to believe that a great country like America should not see international rules and multilateral structures as a constraint or even as an obstacle to remove,” she said. “Multilateralism for us is a guarantee for global peace and security, and as such it is the best tool that we have to advance our national interests, including, I believe, American interests.”