mike pompeo speech cairo ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump Administration’s Farewell to Aims

Whereas previous US political leaders used speeches in Cairo to explain America's broad objectives in the Middle East, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently opted for a different approach. Rather than articulate a strategy to bring peace and reform to the region, he promised only further confrontation.

STOCKHOLM – Every now and then, a US political leader descends on Cairo to deliver an address outlining America’s policy objectives in the ever-challenging Middle East. For example, in June 2005, then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made waves with a speech that firmly put the promotion of freedom and democracy on the agenda.

“For 60 years,” Rice observed, “the United States pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region … and we achieved neither. Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people.” And to those who would accuse the US of imposing democracy on the region, she responded, “In fact, the opposite is true. Democracy is never imposed. It is tyranny that must be imposed.”

Needless to say, a number of regional leaders were distinctly uncomfortable with the speech, given that it came just two years after the US invasion of Iraq. But Rice was also following up on the 2002 Arab Human Development Report, which had highlighted the region’s miserable conditions, and made a clear case for long-term structural reforms.

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