Bigot in chief Donald Trump’s firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and his replacement by former CIA Director Mike Pompeo is recognized by all the major bourgeois media as a clear shift to the right.
That might sound strange to many workers, oppressed people and progressives. Didn’t Tillerson, the former head of ExxonMobil, personify the corporate ruling class of rich, white, cis men who go into politics to promote the fortunes of U.S. imperialist banks and corporations around the globe? Absolutely.
But there are different schools of thought in the ruling class over how to achieve this objective, and Pompeo is a racist, anti-Muslim, reckless warhawk on the extreme right. He has especially pushed hard for a more aggressive posture against Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Pompeo, as head of the CIA, has cultivated a close relationship with Trump. He has been closeted with Trump every day, sometimes for 45 minutes, to “brief” him on what’s going on in the world. That’s plenty of time to stroke the ego of this erratic, impulsive and egocentric billionaire and reinforce his vilest prejudices.
Here’s what the bourgeois media are saying about Pompeo.
On Korea: “Tillerson was thought to be a voice that cautioned Trump against striking North Korea while Pompeo has come off consistently hawkish. … The U.S. has a tricky patch of diplomacy coming up with North Korea as Trump and Kim Jong Un prepare to meet, and if diplomacy fails, the U.S. could get even tougher on Pyongyang. The most pressing North Korea issue is currently the upcoming May summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un, one in which Pompeo has declared the U.S. will make ‘no concessions.’” (Business Insider, March 13)
“Pompeo recently declared that the U.S. would not soften its stance on North Korea ahead of planned talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump. ‘Make no mistake about it,’ Pompeo said on Fox News Sunday. ‘While these negotiations are going on, there will be no concessions made.’ Pompeo has previously suggested he favors regime change in North Korea.” (NPR, March 13)
On Iran: “Pompeo has been a leading critic of the nuclear deal with Iran.” (NPR)
On Muslims: “Amid rumors Pompeo was being considered as a Tillerson replacement, the Atlantic in November noted the CIA director’s alliances with anti-Muslim activists including Brigitte Gabriel and Frank Gaffney. [Gabriel] runs ACT for America, an organization that scours textbooks in an effort to eliminate references that equate Islam with Judaism and Christianity, and urges its members to protest the sale of halal food. In 2016, Pompeo won ACT’s ‘highest honor,’ the National Security Eagle Award.” (Washington Post, March 13)
On racism: “[Pompeo] made the Sunday show rounds to defend the president’s response to a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last August, even as other administration officials went silent.” (Politico, Nov. 11)
Who will replace Pompeo as deputy director of the CIA? Gina Haspel, who as a clandestine CIA officer in 2002 “oversaw the torture of two terrorism suspects and later took part in an order to destroy videotapes documenting their brutal interrogations at a secret prison in Thailand. … [Haspel] oversaw the brutal interrogations of two detainees, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Mr. Zubaydah alone was waterboarded 83 times in a single month, had his head repeatedly slammed into walls and endured other harsh methods before interrogators decided he had no useful information to provide.” (New York Times, Feb. 2, 2017)
Pompeo is also for torture and the hellhole prison at Guantánamo, as well as advocating the death penalty for whistleblower Edward Snowden.
With these two monsters heading the State Department and the CIA and whispering in Trump’s ear every day, there can be no illusions that the U.S. government is moving toward any easing of tensions it has created in the world. On the contrary, we must be prepared to organize and fight like hell to mobilize against war abroad and reaction at home.