Reading Mike Pompeo’s memoir –Never give an inch– the former Director of the CIA and Secretary of State in the Trump Administration, I could not help but compare him with the figure and personality traits of another famous Italian-American: Al Capone. And not only because of a certain physical resemblance and the common Italian ancestry of both. The similarities between one and the other do not end there: the bullying, bullying style and an air of forgiveness. The book is limited to compiling a catalog of self-celebratory anecdotes that punctuate his public life as a United States government official, which have the virtue of reflecting and justifying, with pride, the crimes and outrages that in the name of freedom and democracy, he perpetrates. Washington around the world. That is the main interest aroused by this work, which also shows the coarseness and rudimentary reflections of someone who was a protagonist on the international scene, and the role of his country in the violation of what José Martí called “the balance of the world.” At times I felt a sudden shudder run through my body when I realized that this character from the underworld of world politics was one of the most influential men on the planet.
The book confirms the denunciations of the critics of imperialism: the systematic interventionism of Washington in third countries; the appeal to blackmail and violence to achieve foreign policy objectives, its total lack of respect for international legality and Washington’s impunity for its outrages. Iran, China and Russia appear as subjects of a sick obsession in its pages; Among Latin American countries, Cuba and Venezuela are the ones that command by far the most attention. And when he talks about other nations, Brazil or Colombia, the reference is about the suffering of Venezuelan migration.
Throughout its pages, Pompeo –former Army Captain like Jair Bolsonaro– gives free rein to an unbearable chauvinism: American society is infinitely superior to any other country in the world, which gives it the right to insult or disqualify the rest of the world. Not just Pompeo. Joe Biden is exactly the same: in Foreign Affairs magazine (March-April 2020) he described Vladimir Putin as the head of a gang of thieves and Xi JinPing as the “capo” of an immense concentration camp that subjected millions of Chinese to forced labor, the basis of Chinese competitiveness according to the crazy analysis of the current occupant of the White House.
Returning to the book, I will allow myself to reproduce some passages that illustrate the felonies committed during his tenure in the Donald Trump government and the very modest intellectual thickness of its author. Of Fidel, one of the great statesmen of world reach who filled the second half of the twentieth century with his presence and his chair, Pompeo says that he was only “a failed baseball player!” It is difficult to find a more rude and ignorant character than this little character, whose stature, and that of his bosses, does not come close to Fidel’s heels. He later confirms that “Cuba is important to US national security. It is another foothold for US adversaries and their regime is one of the cruelest in the world.” And of a possible military option to put an end to the Cuban Revolution, he astutely warns that “the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 is a reminder that all military action has the potential for failure.” Finally, he boasts that “we designated Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism… (because) the Cuban regime has refused to return Joanne Chesimard, a fugitive from the FBI’s ‘most wanted terrorists’ list found guilty of the murder.” in 1973 by New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster.” Of course, his mocking condemnation of the “failure” of socialism in Cuba is the consequence of exclusively endogenous causes. In his book there is no allusion to the blockade and its devastating effects on the economy and daily life on the island.
Venezuela is another of Pompeo’s obsessions and the nonsense he says in his work demonstrates not only the criminal intention to harm the peoples of Cuba and Venezuela, but also the crudeness of his diagnoses. Thus he tells us that “at one point (April 30, 2019) it seemed that Maduro was preparing to flee the country with a plane waiting to take him to Havana. I went into the television and urged him to get on it. But the Russians had pounced on him. Our information indicated that Maduro was persuaded to stand his ground.” Later he had said that “after investigating Guaidó, we decided that we could run with him. In the months that followed, the US mounted a pressure campaign on the Maduro regime in concert with our allies. We imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil company and seized diplomatic property in Washington to hand over to the legitimate (sic!) government headed by Guaidó. In January 2019, and again in January 2020, I spoke at the Organization of American States to rally support against Maduro. Historically the OAS was an anti-American and leftist (sic!!!) organization, but now under the excellent leadership of Secretary General Luis Almagro, OAS members have supported our efforts.” And further on he writes that “in the Trump administration we could not tolerate a nation just 1,400 miles from Florida rolling out the welcome mat for Russia, China, Iran, Cuba and the drug cartels in a century-old violation of the Monroe Doctrine.” XXI.” In light of the 2018 elections… we believed we had the opportunity to help the Venezuelan people recover their country from a dictator and force him out. We hoped to make life so miserable for the regime that Maduro and his thugs would have to make a deal with the opposition. If Maduro wanted to live in a Swiss castle for the rest of his life, we were willing to let him, as long as Venezuela could return to normality. At various times, President Trump, John Bolton, and I have suggested the military option for Venezuela. None of us wanted to publicly take such an important means of lobbying off the table.”
The list of blunders of diagnosis and outbursts of all kinds contained in this book is endless, as is its incomprehension of today’s world and the challenges that beset the United States. But in itself this work constitutes a rich source for studying ignorance , brutality and arrogance of the American ruling class, and its perverse immorality. It’s true: Pompeo’s successors don’t have the same mobster manners. Antony Blinken is more dapper as he befits a gentleman who went through Harvard and Columbia, but politically his politics are no less brutal than those of his rugged predecessor. Of course, Biden is not Trump, but he has continued with his policies of tightening the blockade against Cuba in the midst of the pandemic and keeping those measures almost unchanged until today. Pompeo and Blinken are, deep down, grim administrators of an empire that wants to confront its inexorable decline with violence.
Let’s go back to the comparison between Pompeo and Capone. Two phrases attributed to the gangster struck me as apt to describe US foreign policy: “I have built my organization on fear.” Now American ideologues call it “soft power,” but it’s another way of thinking about and managing fear. The broadsword of the military, Vargas Llosa dixit, is replaced by the media hitman and lawfare. The other, even more appropriate to define American diplomacy, was expressed by Capone when he said that “you get further with a smile and a gun than just a smile.” Smiling and kind gunslingers who visit us almost daily and who, as history teaches, they do not hesitate for a second to pull the trigger to get rid of their adversaries.In short: read the book and verify, with Pompeo’s involuntary confessions, the infinite evil of the empire.