Pompeo The Yes-Man? Not So Fast

Pompeo The Yes-Man? Not So Fast

Susan B. Glasser in today’s New Yorker (aggregated over on Real Clear Politics) published a hit piece on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and an allegedly conservative magazine, The American Conservative, decided it needed to pile on. In a long and tortured article entitled “Mike Pompeo, The Secretary Of Trump,” Ms. Glasser while appearing to be balanced and give him credit where due, essentially likens Secretary Pompeo to a boot licking sycophant. Her greatest angst seems to be with the fact that Secretary Pompeo understands the chain-of-command. He knows he is but an advisor and it’s The President who gets to decide things. From Ms. Glasser’s article:


The word “mission” was the tell. Pompeo in public often refers to the “mission set” he’s been assigned by Trump, presenting himself as a mere executor of the President’s commands. “He’s very focussed on whatever the mission is. He’s a West Point guy: Trump wants a deal, so I’ll get a deal,” another of the former officials said. The official noted that Pompeo uses the language of “an Army captain, a guy who went to West Point and got out before he became a general.”

To the “former official,” and Ms. Glasser—Sorry. That IS the language of Commissioned Officers, from Second Lieutenant, all the way up to the Four Star General (or Admiral) asigned as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. You state your case and the “Old Man” decides. Unless it’s an illegal order, you salute, say “Yes Sir,” and execute. And one other thing you don’t do—You don’t “leak” your disappointment at decisions not decided your way.

Ms. Glasser goes on to further demonstrate that she’s spent too much time talking about other folks and not enough time actually being in the arena, emphasis mine.

This behavior is the reason that Pompeo has succeeded in becoming the lone survivor of Trump’s original national-security team. At the start of his Administration, the President had bragged about “my generals.” But, now that he has pushed out the actual generals who served as his chief of staff, his national-security adviser, and his Defense Secretary, it seems clear that Trump was uncomfortable with such leaders, and rejected their habits of command and independent thinking. He wanted a Mike Pompeo, not a Jim Mattis, a captain trained to follow orders, not a general used to giving them.


Again with the non-existent Captain-General dichotomy. Captains give plenty of orders. And for the edification of Ms. Glasser, Mr. Larison, below and others like them, most fights, especially in this particular conflict we are still embroiled in, are led by Sergeants, Lieutenants and Captains. They make the day-to-day, life or death decisions…and far more of them than Flag Officers do.

Daniel Larison over at the The American Conservative, piles on in his article, “Pompeo the Yes-Man.”

It is typical of the shoddiness of Trump’s hiring practices that he picked an unqualified Congressman to run the CIA without even knowing who he was, but the somewhat surprising thing about this episode is that Trump didn’t end up holding Pompeo’s previous criticism against him. Pompeo evidently proved to Trump that he could be just as much of a suck-up as a he was a critic, and that is what he has done. Unfortunately for the country, that has meant having a wholly unqualified man in charge of representing the U.S. to the world because he happens to know how to stroke the president’s ego.

Unqualified? Please! Glasser and Larison are clearly demonstrating the ivory tower mentality so resented by the military and other professions that actually have personal responsibility attached to them. If Ms. Glasser or Mr. Larison had actually served in the military or some other profession requiring the leadership of others, they would know that the only difference between a Captain and a General in command, is the scope of responsibility. Captain level commanders take and give orders, lots of them. Secretary Pompeo served in an Armored Calvary Unit. As a Troop/Company Commander, he would have commanded 100-200 Soldiers (depending on attachments) and been personally responsible for over 100 million dollars worth of equipment while making life & death decisions every day.


I checked the work and education pedigrees of both Ms. Glasser and Mr. Larison. I find it odd that two folks with work experience such as theirs, bereft in actual leadership of others in life or death situations, believe they actually have the chops to denigrate a man with Secretary Pompeo’s real world experience in such matters. I understand the need in our Republic for a robust press. However, J-School grads might wish to consider the below, attributed to Teddy Roosevelt as they opine on issues not really in their wheelhouse.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

In short, Mike Pompeo is more qualified to be CIA Chief or Secretary of State than most of the members of Congress. He is far more qualified than Barrack Obama was for the Presidency, who when elected had never, ever at any time prior, held a “buck stops here” job—not one. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is certainly more qualified than these two critics who claim he isn’t.


Mike Ford, a retired Infantry Officer, writes on Military, Foreign Affairs and occasionally dabbles in Political and Economic matters.

Follow him on Twitter: @MikeFor10394583

You can find his other Red State work here.


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