Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Texas A&M Monday evening to speak to students at an event organized by the MSC Wiley Lecture Series.
Pompeo, who served as director of the CIA before his current appointment, expressed the importance of American diplomacy and spoke on several important international policy issues on the world stage. After the lecture, Pompeo visited the gravesite of George H.W and Barbara Bush before the Corps of Cadets conducted a march-in review, in which cadets marched across the Quad into Duncan Dining Hall, saluting Pompeo and Corps Commandant Brig. Gen. Joe Ramirez.
In the beginning moments of Pompeo’s lecture in Rudder Auditorium, two attendees, one of whom was dressed in military uniform, stood and began to speak to Pompeo, who continued to talk over the protestors before they sat down. As Pompeo continued to talk, he urged the crowd to join the diplomacy sector because it makes a difference in the lives of all Americans.
“Diplomacy and military strike go hand in hand,” Pompeo said. “They are indeed intimately related; each relies on the other.”
On April 8, the Trump administration, led by the State Department, declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The White House released a statement recognizing “the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft.”
Responding to a question posed by an audience member regarding the expected sanctions following the IRCG’s designation as a terrorist organization, Pompeo said the US would “vigorously” pursue sanctions on companies with alleged dealings with the organization.
“Some 20 percent of the Iraqi economy is controlled by the IRGC,” Pompeo said. “So my wisdom for those of you who are connected to companies that might be doing business with them, or if you’re the general counsel for a European Bank that’s doing business with the company that might have a 20 percent shareholder in the IRGC, is you should check your work.”
In addition to discussing policy topics in the Middle East, Pompeo spoke on Latin American policy and claimed that for the region to modernize it must join the global market.
“I’m telling you, I think there’s an enormous opportunity for American businesses to go to these places, to go to South American countries and sell our products,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo said the United States, through USAID, has been generous in supplying aid to Venezuela, and said President Nicolás Maduro has prevented the assistance from reaching its designated recipients.
“They can’t always get it, as in the case of Venezuela we weren’t able to get it to the people who needed it,” Pompeo said. “Maduro is still denying food to the starving and medicine to sick children.”
According to Pompeo, three million Venezuelans have fled their nation-state, which totals 10 percent of the full population. Roughly 1,500,000 migrants are in Colombia, 750,000 migrants in Peru and hundreds of thousands are scattered across other countries in South America.
“The solution to that is creating democracy and opportunity inside of Venezuela,” Pompeo said.“That’s the answer to the migration problem, which is burdening Peru, and Colombia and Chile and now Ecuador. The solution to that is creating economic opportunity at home so these people can stay.”
Pompeo, who attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, was met with applause from the audience after reflecting on the cadet motto used at both West Point and Texas A&M: “You will not lie, cheat, or steal or tolerate those who do.”
“I was the CIA director,” Pompeo said. “We lied, we cheated, we stole. We had entire training courses.”
In closing, Pompeo said the goal of the State Department is to turn struggling nations into steady, long-term democratic partners for the United States.
“I know that you all have a tremendous sense of duty, a tremendous sense of service,” Pompeo said. “I hope that today that you can see that America’s State Department is committed to living up to those standards.”