QUESTION: Welcome back to The Ben Shapiro Show. Joining us on the line is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Well, Secretary Pompeo, today is an interesting day online as people set their hair on fire over the news that the President has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, as I’ve been making the case all day long that he deserves it more than his predecessor who won it specifically for being an alive human being who breathes. The President has actually done some heavy lifting in the Middle East. So, first of all, congratulations on that news, good for the administration.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, thank you. Look, the work that went into this that the President led and set the conditions for to create this opportunity, where we literally stood the original model on its head that said you had to solve the problem between the Palestinians and Israel before you could begin to build out stability in the Middle East – the President took this on in a different direction. You’ve seen we’ve made real progress. And people throughout the Middle East are safer today not only because of the work we did to get the Emiratis and the Israelis to normalize, but because of the coalition we have built to counter the Islamic Republic of Iran, which remains the greatest threat to instability in the Middle East.
QUESTION: So, Secretary of State Pompeo, there’s supposed to be a signing ceremony between Israel and the UAE. Obviously the relations have pretty dramatically shifted, and we’ve seen some other countries that look like they may be jumping on board. Can you explain to folks who haven’t been following what happened with Serbia and Kosovo that ties into the new change in the Middle East?
SECRETARY POMPEO: You bet. There’s real opportunities – because the President set the conditions for countries to say, look, we’ve had enough of this, we’ve had enough of Palestinian obstinance, we really just want to acknowledge that Israel has a right to exist. That’s – and so what you saw with Kosovo and Serbia last week was those two countries moving to a place where they both acknowledge this fundamental understanding.
We – we’re hopeful. I traveled to the Middle East now – I guess it was last week and traveled to Oman and to Bahrain and then I visited with the Israelis and the Emiratis as well and into Sudan. And in each of those places, I think those countries recognize that the model that had been there before, which were that these countries said Israel must be destroyed, it must not have its place, its rightful place in the world as the Jewish homeland – President Trump has changed this.
And so I’m optimistic we’ll see other countries recognize what the reality is on the ground the same way that the President made the decision to recognize the simple fact that Jerusalem indeed is the capital of Israel.
QUESTION: We’re speaking with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. So Secretary Pompeo, let’s talk also about the big decision to draw down some troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. What is the actual strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan? Are we going to keep enough troops there to maintain stability? Or is this the first move toward a broader drawdown and simply getting out of the places entirely?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So two different situations. Let me take them sequentially if I may, Ben.
First, in Iraq, the forces in Iraq are there for the fight to counter ISIS, and as I think most of your listeners know, when this administration came into office, you will remember the pictures: people in cages set on fire, heads being cut off all across the Syrian and Iraq – the caliphate, the ISIS caliphate owning real estate roughly the size of Great Britain. President Trump built out a strategy. We have destroyed the ISIS caliphate. We took out its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. And then we’ve done real work inside of Iraq too to take down – in western Iraq and the Sunni parts of Iraq, take down the threat from terrorism there as well.
And so these adjustments in our force posture reflect the increased security there, the decreased risk from ISIS, while acknowledging that there’s still work to do. There are still jihadists, there are still terrorists out there. We’ll make sure that we keep the capabilities and the forces, not just – we always focus on troop levels. There’s a lot more to it than that, right? Intelligence collection, the ability to see what’s going on, the capacity to respond from over the horizon if need be.
We will continue to keep the capabilities so we can continue to counter terror in Iraq and in Afghanistan right now coming on 20 years. September 11th will mark an important reminder of the risk that emanated from Afghanistan. Today, as a result of the work that this administration has done, fewer than a couple hundred al-Qaida left inside of Afghanistan today, and so we’re adjusting the force posture, getting to the right place where we reduce American cost and we decrease the risk to our soldiers, our sailors, our airmen and Marines that they’ll be injured or killed in a conflict in Afghanistan when we have a model that will allow us to protect the homeland without putting them at risk.
QUESTION: I’m speaking with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. So I know we’re kind of jumping around the globe here. What is the administration’s view on China policy these days? Obviously, the United States has taken a very negative view of how China has been expanding its authority. We’re seeing U.S. companies continue to stick with the Chinese Government. Are there going to be restrictions on what U.S. companies can do in China coming sometime in the near future given the fact that you can expect that investors and corporations are going to outsource where they want to outsource if they wish to remain competitive? It does seem like there is going to have to be some sort of government action to counter China’s economic power given how they’re using that economic power to subjugate entire regions like Hong Kong.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Ben, you’ve got that right. Two thoughts. One is even as recently as these last few months, following the China virus having destroyed thousands of lives and destroyed trillions of dollars’ worth of wealth around the globe, even in these past few months we have seen businesses make decisions understanding that the political risk from a communist regime, a regime that simply can’t tell the truth about a virus and engaged in behaviors associated with the virus that were very heavy-handed and put people inside of China at risk, we’ve seen companies, American companies start to make real different decisions about where they’re going to source their products. And so I think you’ll see some of this happen simply because companies will find the risk too great to operate inside of China.
As for the U.S. action, we have a different model. Our model is making sure that the American people are safe and secure. And so you’ve seen decisions about restricted items on lists that we will no longer permit the companies to outsource. You’ve seen what we’ve done with respect to Huawei and now TikTok. Those are exemplars of Chinese Communist Party actions to take American data, put it on their systems, and then shove that dataset back into the Chinese national security apparatus. We’re not going to let that happen.
So I think you will see further action that protects the American people and protects our information and tries to reduce the capacity of the Chinese Communist Party to continue its effort to gain power and expand its capacity to put at risk not only Americans, but other people who believe in freedom, democracy, and the rule of law.
QUESTION: Secretary Pompeo, speaking of China’s aggression, it’s fascinating to watch how the media spin intelligence reports. There’s an intelligence report that came out a couple of months ago suggesting that the Russian Government was seeking to interfere in the election on behalf of President Trump. That was magnified by the press. That same report suggested the Iranian Government and the Chinese Government were both seeking to interfere in the election on behalf of Joe Biden. Across the board, what measures is the administration taking in order to prevent foreign election interference, which I know a lot of folks are concerned about?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So it’s an important question. So there are efforts here to make sure that every state, secretary of state or the election office inside of the states, have all the tools that they need to protect their ballot boxes, to protect their systems, to protect their voting systems. So I’ll call this the hardware and software connected with making sure we get all of the votes counted. You’ve seen that discussion. The Department of Homeland Security at the federal level is responsible for helping these states be successful. So that’s step one, sort of preventing fraud, election fraud from those who want to do real harm, whether it’s Russia or Iran or China.
Second, there are efforts – I can’t say much about them, but there are efforts underway all across the United States Government to reduce and just – to reduce the risk by disrupting these efforts, these actions that these foreign governments are taking so that we can be sure that the effort not only to interfere is foiled, but the capacity to influence votes or to influence the outcome of the election is diminished as well.
QUESTION: One more question for you, Secretary Pompeo. So obviously we have seen the Russian Government involving itself in apparent – and now poisoning of Alexei Navalny with a chemical nerve agent. What is the American Government’s stance on this, and are there going to be any ramifications internationally for Russia engaging in – apparently the Putin administration regime engaging in actual violence against his political opponents, which it’s been doing for quite a while?
SECRETARY POMPEO: So the European Union, a number of European countries, the United States have all made clear to the Russians our expectations that they will hold those responsible for this accountable. We’ll do our best to come to a conclusion about who was responsible too.
Ben, I’ll say this much. I think people all around the world see this kind of activity for what it is. And when they see the effort to poison a dissident, and they recognize that there is a substantial chance that this actually came from senior Russian officials, I think this is not good for the Russian people. I think it’s not good for Russia. I think people see this and say this is not the way countries that want to be powers, that want to be important and play on the global stage, this is not the way that they should engage in activity. They ought to instead promote freedom and democracy. I think this – these kind of things put real black marks on countries. And I think that’s different than 10 or 15 or 20 years ago. I think the world has matured and come to an understanding that this is not how normal countries operate, and this will prove costly for the Russians.
What the United States Government will decide to do directly in response to this, I don’t want to get in front of the President. It’s something that we’ll take a look at, we’ll evaluate, and we’ll make sure we do our part to do whatever we can to reduce the risk that things like this happen again.
QUESTION: Well, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, really appreciate your time. Obviously, the strongest part of Trump’s re-election campaign is indeed his foreign policy, and the latest news of the Nobel Prize nomination, which is (inaudible) —
SECRETARY POMPEO: Yeah, it’s good stuff.
QUESTION: It’s pretty spectacular. I appreciate it, Secretary Pompeo.
SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s good stuff. Ben, thank you, sir. Have a good day.