QUESTION: All right. Well, thank you so much for this wonderful opportunity here. Again, Secretary Mike Pompeo joining us here on News Radio KMAN. He is the featured speaker here at the Landon Lecture Series at Kansas State University this morning. First of all, what does it mean for you to be back here in Kansas and specifically here in Manhattan today?
SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s always great to come back home, to be back in Kansas. It physically feels different to me. It’s a place with great values; it’s easy living. And Susan and I love it here. So it’s been fun. I got back last night. And it’s – they have a special opportunity. I was privileged to get an invitation to come speak as part of the Landon Lecture Series. I look at the great leaders who’ve had this chance to give this lecture and I feel incredibly honored and humbled to be today in front of a couple thousand people here at Kansas State to talk about America and America First and America’s unalienable rights and why they matter so much to us here and all around the world.
QUESTION: Now, what are you hoping to get across today with your message? Inspiring anything in particular?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, a couple things. First, I want to talk about those rights that, Brandon, frankly we sometimes take for granted here in the United States, the basic right to life and liberty that are grounded in our founding. As I travel the world, I see that those are not universally accepted ideas, and we have an obligation to protect them here. And I want every young person in the audience today to know that they have a responsibility to continue to maintain this proud rights tradition here in the United States.
And then second, I hope to inspire a whole handful of young people today to come join the United States Department of State or to at least consider public service as part of their life. It is a noble calling; it is important. We need talented young people from the heartland to come be part of our team and help America be successful all around the world.
QUESTION: What has being in the role of Secretary of State taught you about America’s role in the world when it comes to diplomacy and foreign policy?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Okay, see, every time I travel around the world, every nation looks to America for guidance. They want to know what America thinks; they want to know how the American people are thinking; they want to know what the American economy is doing and how we’re shaping our nation. They know. They know that America is an exceptional nation, that it is powerful and important, and that the ideas that underpin America are central to the world’s success.
And so I’ve seen this no matter where I travel. Whether it’s to Africa or to Asia or to the Middle East, they’re looking to see how America is working on a particular challenge around the world. And so many times they want to work alongside of us to be part of that, because they know that where America goes we are a force for good in the world, trying diligently to protect the American people while delivering good outcomes for citizens all around the world.
QUESTION: How has it changed in the last couple years under President Trump’s administration compared to before?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, when we came into office, you’ll recall the previous administration had a very different approach to foreign policy. They called it “leading from behind.” They, too often, apologized for America, and our team will never do that. President Trump will never do that. We understand that America is trying to get everything right. It’s not that we’re perfect; it’s not that we don’t make mistakes, but rather that our objectives are noble and good. And we’re leading from the front. We’re making our positions known. We’re encouraging other countries to come participate with us.
We have 70-plus countries working to help us defeat ISIS. We took down the caliphate in Syria. We have 50-plus countries working alongside of us to restore democracy in Venezuela. We’ve got big coalitions working on the problem set in North Korea. We’ve got a set of UN Security Council resolutions passed unanimously through the Security Council, aimed at reducing nuclear risk to the American people. Those are the kind of things, the kind of coalitions, that President Trump has asked me to build out. We’ve been successful and we believe the American people are safer as a direct result of those efforts.
QUESTION: Again, we’re speaking to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo here on News Radio KMAN in Manhattan. It appears the U.S. may be inching closer to a peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan. How optimistic are you that peace can be achieved there, and what needs to happen for that to be accomplished?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Oh, it’s been a long time since there’s been peace in Afghanistan. We’ve now been there coming on two decades. Our mission set was very clear. We went there to crush al-Qaida, who had brought terror to the United States of America on September 11th, now coming up on the anniversary of 18 years. We’ve been working with the Afghanistan Government. We’ve been talking to the Taliban, trying to get violence reduced.
President Trump’s two objectives that he set for the State Department were, one, to make sure that we got our resources balanced appropriately. We’ve spent over $30 billion a year there for an awfully long time, and we have terror threats not only from Afghanistan from around – but from around the world. We want to make sure that we’ve got our resources deployed most appropriately to deliver security for the American people. Our soldiers and our airmen have sacrificed so much in Afghanistan. We’ve got to get this right. But second, to make sure that we reduce the risk that terror will ever strike us again from Afghanistan.
We think we can accomplish both of those things. We hope that all the elements of Afghanistan – including the Taliban – want to be part of that, and we’re working to achieve it.
QUESTION: All right. Well, that’s good news to hear. I have to ask you, Mr. Secretary – I know there’s been a lot of rumors about it, but – about a possible Senate run. Are you able to address that at this point?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah. I’m very focused on what I’m doing. You just heard me recount half a dozen opportunities for America around the world. I get the privilege to serve as President Trump’s Secretary of State, and I’m focused on that every day and plan to continue that.
QUESTION: All right. Well, very good. Well, we appreciate the opportunity here. And welcome to Manhattan, and we look forward to the Landon Lecture here later today.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Awesome. Good to be with you, great to be in Manhattan, great to be back home here in Kansas. Thank you, sir.
QUESTION: All right. Thank you so much. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo joining us here on News Radio KMAN this morning.