QUESTION: I’m joined now by the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Mr. Secretary, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s great to be with you again. I hope you’re doing well.
QUESTION: I’m doing well. Former Ambassador to the United States from Israel, Michael Oren, joined me earlier this morning. He sends along his warm hello. He talked about Israel being on the cusp of war with Iran and that America’s tough policy and Iranians’ increasing recklessness leaves them vulnerable. And he said – I want to quote here – “the resupply of critical ammunition is going to be necessary,” and that Israel will need a “diplomatic and legal Iron Dome” at the Security Council and the International Criminal Court if war breaks out. Will Israel get that diplomatic and legal Iron Dome, Mr. Secretary?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Look, we’ve been very clear about a couple things that you just referred to. First, with respect to the Islamic Republic of Iran, we flipped the U.S. policy there. The previous administration guaranteed Iran a path to a nuclear weapon system, allowed them to foment terror, and allowed their missile system to run amok. President Trump has directed that we do just the opposite and deny them the resources to create risk – not only for the United States and its citizens, but for Israel as well. And we’ve been successful at that.
And we’ve also been incredibly supportive. Each time Israel has been forced to take actions to defend itself, the United States has made very clear that that country has not only the right but the duty to protect its own people. And we are always supportive of their efforts to do that. And so with respect to ensuring that Israel is treated fairly at the United Nations, Israel can certainly count on the United States of America.
QUESTION: I know it’s not your writ – it belongs to your colleague over at the Pentagon – will they get the ammunition resupply that happened when Nixon sent it to – on the Yom Kippur War? Do you think the President would resupply the ammunition they need?
SECRETARY POMPEO: We’re constantly in conversations about them, making sure that we collectively have defense systems capabilities that are appropriate for their needs. I have every confidence this President, who moved our embassy and who made clear Israel’s rights in the Golan Heights, will do all that is necessary to ensure that our great partner in Israel will be protected.
QUESTION: Now Mr. Secretary, you have met with President Xi of China. Your counterpart there as well has been a frequent negotiating partner of you. Dr. Kissinger’s book on China notes, China’s got a 4,000-year history and they often play a very long game. They’re the oldest civilization in the world; we’re the youngest. Do we have the smarts to negotiate with them, or at least get to a draw in this current confrontation?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Oh, of course. Look, it is the case that for a couple of decades – and Hugh, this isn’t political; this is Republican and Democrat administrations alike – for a couple of decades, we allowed China to run roughshod over American interests, as did Europe allow China to run roughshod over their interests as well. President Trump has made clear that’s not going to be the case anymore.
It’s most prominent – that is, you see it – in the trade issues, where we’re trying to simply get fair and reciprocal trade between the United States and China, but I think you also see it in all the other components of the challenge that China presents, whether it’s pushing back, as we’ve done here at the State Department, on the risk presented by Chinese telecommunications infrastructure, Huawei and others, the work that we’ve done to convince our partners around the world that allowing China to make investments in their countries that will ultimately make them vassal states of China. Along every dimension – political, diplomatic, and security – we’re pushing back to make sure that the American people are protected against the challenges that China presents to us.
QUESTION: And the staying power is there no matter how long this takes. Because the markets go up every day, they go down every day based upon rumors. And I keep saying this is a long negotiation; this is complicated.
SECRETARY POMPEO: That’s exactly right. Look, President Trump’s pretty focused. He set out the conditions for the trade team, which were pretty straightforward: We want them to stop stealing our stuff, to stop forcing our companies to transfer technology if they just simply want to do business and serve the Chinese market. We want our trade barriers gone. They want – we want zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers. We want a fair trading relationship. China is no longer appropriately a developing country inside of the WTO. Those basic parameters for fair and free trade are what’s the – are the mission set given to Secretary Mnuchin and Ambassador Lighthizer. And in the other places, where the State Department’s working, it’s similarly situated. And we’ll get this right; we’ll be determined. And if we do – if we do all of that, we’ll be successful pushing back against the Chinese challenge.
QUESTION: And I want to turn to another person you know personally, Boris Johnson. I think you negotiated with him when he was foreign secretary, but you certainly know him. Maggie Thatcher famously said she was not returning. She famously suggested to George H.W. Bush not to “go wobbly.” Do you think BoJo is either for turning or is going to go wobbly in this confrontation with the remainers he’s facing across the aisle and in his own party right now?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Knowing Prime Minister Johnson the way I do, I would find that very surprising. He’s set the course. He’s made clear to the people of the United Kingdom his mission set. And I know – I’ve spoken to him once since he’s been prime minister, but I’ve spoken to my counterpart, Dominic Raab, a couple of times. They’re determined to deliver on behalf of the people of the United Kingdom what it is the people of the United Kingdom asked that government to do.
QUESTION: Do you expect then the U.S.-U.K. relationship will go stronger after Brexit is a reality at the end of October?
SECRETARY POMPEO: I think it’s the case. We’ll have a clear line with them; we won’t have the EU as a middleman that has put constraints on our capacity to do lots of good things across not only the economic sector but the security sector and the diplomatic sector as well. I – they have been a great partner for hundreds of years of the United States, and that – I’m confident that that very special relationship will continue to grow.
QUESTION: Now, you and the President are heading to Poland. And this trip has snuck up on people because of the G7. Why Poland? Why is it so important?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Poland’s been a great partner. President Duda has been a great friend to the United States. We want to talk to them about the security issues. We all know the history of Poland over multiple generations, and we want to make sure that the United States and Poland, are deeply connected together. And then we’re going for a very special set of ceremonies that’ll take place across the weekend as well.
QUESTION: Now, you were home yesterday in Kansas, where you hail from, and you gave a speech to the American Legion, of which you are a member. And it stressed – I read the whole thing; I hope people go and read it – Americanism, which is a quaint term in the eyes of the progressive left, but resonates I think with Americans not just in Kansas and Ohio but even on the coastal elites. Why were you defending Americanism to the American Legion yesterday?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So it was awesome. I was actually in Indiana, but I did get to speak with the Kansas delegation. I was in beautiful Indianapolis.
QUESTION: Oh, okay. Sorry, but it sounded like you were in Kansas. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah. I met with the Kansas – my Kansas colleagues as well from Post 4, where I am still a dues-paying member and where I enjoy steak night a great deal back home at the American Legion post.
I went there to talk about Americanism. It’s a word that the American Legion has in its founding documents. And I wanted to talk about the centrality of our founders and these core principles that have served America so well for 200-plus years now. And we have to get it right. We can’t be looking to other ideas. The central premise of our country is this greatness that is our Constitution, informed by the Declaration of Independence and that Americanism is a force for good around the world. As I tell my team here at the State Department every time I get a chance, this is a very special, a very exceptional, nation. And I wanted to remind those great patriots who had served or who had family members who have served in the United States Armed Forces that we value what they did and that their continued need to serve and talk about the greatness of America is very important.
QUESTION: You talked to the American Legion about Afghanistan, and there’s a lot of concern that a bad deal is in the offing. You assured them that there wouldn’t be. Would you repeat for this audience what the position of the President and the administration is about the negotiations underway with the Taliban?
SECRETARY POMPEO: Two objectives President Trump has set out – the first is the President has said we, given the geostrategic challenges that the country faces, we have to make sure that the resources we deploy in every theater are appropriate for the time, and he has talked about these endless wars in places like the Middle East and said we need to reduce our cost and our risk to the young men and women we send there. And we need to do so along with a second objective, and the second objective is to ensure that we protect the American people. So in a place like Afghanistan, that translates into ensuring that terrorism cannot – or at least we do everything we can to reduce the risk that terrorism will emanate from that space.
And so our mission set in these peace and reconciliation conversations is to achieve each of those two goals. I am confident that we can do just that.
QUESTION: My last question, Mr. Secretary. You got big applause from the American Legion yesterday twice – once for saying we’re not going to apologize for America again, and that is predictable. Secondly, you said we’re standing up to the International Criminal Court and we stopped them from prosecuting our service members. That got a lot of applause from the American Legion. I think it gets a lot of applause – and I think it differentiates the, quote, “progressive left” from you and the President. They love the ICC; we don’t want any part of it.
SECRETARY POMPEO: This is an institution that we are not a member of, and it is trying to shanghai our soldiers, bring them into a criminal process. Look, we – we’re really good. We hold ourselves accountable. If our service members do something that’s inappropriate or unlawful, we have a deep, long tradition of making sure that we get it right. This is an ungoverned radical group that, frankly, uses politics all too often to decide who to prosecute and not – and who not to prosecute. And so I, in my time at the CIA and now as Secretary of State, have worked with President Trump and our team to ensure that the ICC never hauls one of our young men or women there, try and bring them to justice in a way that is inappropriate and doesn’t reflect the greatness of the American military and what we have done over these past decades.
QUESTION: Well done. Mr. Secretary, safe travel to Poland and beyond. We’ll talk to you again soon.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you, Hugh.
QUESTION: Thank you for joining us.
SECRETARY POMPEO: So long, sir.
QUESTION: So long.