The State Department is known as the agency that solves conflicts with words but a closer look reveals that it’s much more connected to war than most of us think. By examining the State Department’s funding for 2018, discover the State Department’s role in regime changes past, current, and future. In this episode, you’ll also get an introduction to the National Endowment for Democracy, a scandalous organization with a noble sounding name. Mike Glaser joins Jen for the Thank You’s.
5:32Chairman Ed Royce (CA): The National Endowment for Democracy in particular should be strongly supported. Let’s face it: democracy is on the ropes worldwide; supporting it is a moral and strategic good. NED is backing critical programming in Venezuela and Nigeria and worldwide. It is no time to cut this programming.
6:00Chairman Ed Royce (CA): The administration has rightly provided lethal arms to Ukraine, which remains under siege by Russian proxies.
6:16Chairman Ed Royce (CA): A far more severe threat is Moscow’s information war. This committee has heard that Moscow’s goal isn’t so much to make Western citizens think this or think that; Russia’s goal is to destroy all confidence in objective thought. By undermining fact-based discussions with lies, our enemies hope to gravely damage Western democracies. The State Department must aggressively counter disinformation through its global engagement center, other means, and with department officials speaking out for the truth.
18:05Mike Pompeo: On Monday I unveiled a new direction for the president’s Iran strategy. We will apply unprecedented financial pressure; coordinate with our DOD colleagues on deterrents efforts; support the Iranian people, perhaps most importantly; and hold out the prospect for a new deal with Iran. It simply needs to change its behavior.
19:40Mike Pompeo: This budget request seeks $2.2 billion to help stimulate American economic growth by expanding markets for U.S. investment and ensuring the partner countries can fully participate in the global economy.
19:55Mike Pompeo: America’s message, a noble one, must be shared with the world at all times. Gentleman Royce, you mentioned the global engagement center. We will work with the 55-plus-million dollars available to cover both its original mission, counter extremism, plus countering state-sponsored disinformation campaigns. We will not tolerate Russian interference in our 2018 elections. Much work has been done; there’s more to do. Rest assured that we will take the appropriate countermeasures in response to the continued Russian efforts.
35:05Mike Pompeo: First, with respect to Venezuela, we did this morning receive a formal notification that our charged affairs had been PNG’d. We will respond appropriately, certainly reciprocally, but perhaps more than that. Perhaps proportionately. We understand that there’s a second U.S. officer who will also be PNG’d. We’re well aware. We’re watching the Maduro regime continue to engage in destructive behavior for the Venezuelan people.
1:44:35Paul Rep. Cook (CA): Foreign military sales. A number of the countries are concerned. Peru is— Mike Pompeo: Mm-hmm. Rep. Cook: —I think they’re putting in a plug for the C-130Js. Very, very interested. And so I obviously am very, very concerned. Before, in the past, we’re much more involved in that. And as I said, there’s a lot of countries, most notably China and Iran, that are involved in that. What can we do to increase foreign military sales in that region? Pompeo: I, for one, would advocate for working closely with them and encouraging them to purchase U.S. equipment that fit their country, that was the right tool set for them, for themselves and their security interests. I hope that we can, across the board, streamline the State Department’s process connected with foreign military sales. There’s work to do. Rep. Cook: And I brought up this subject before in regards to NATO. You know, Eastern Europe, they’re still reliant on the parts from Russia. Once you go with another country, you’re going to be dependent on that. So, I think we’ve got to look at that whole situation, or once they buy, they’re going to be buying there for the next five generations or something. Pompeo: Yes, sir. Rep. Cook: Thank you very much. I yield back.
1:54:17Rep. Scott Perry (PA): And in Bosnia, I’m concerned that there’s an October election and there’s a problem with the constitution. The date and accords were never supposed to last 20 years. They have. But I’m concerned that we’re not headed in the right place there. And I just want to get your thoughts on that, if we’re going to wait to see what happens, if we’re going to take preemptive action. I would hate to see that thing burn down and then—with the United States having troops on the ground there to try and secure the peace, and also if we’re interested in pursuing putting some forces there, again, to thwart Russia, and if that’s a consideration. So, those two topics, sir. Mike Pompeo: So, let me start first with Bosnia. We’re working on the very issue you described. I can’t say a lot about it, but know that the State Department, others, Department of Defense are there. We understand the risk. We think the region’s very important. We know the—and this transitions to your second part of the question which is, we know the Russians are hard at work there destabilizing— Rep. Perry: As are the Turks, right? Pompeo: Yes. And so there are a handful, although admittedly not sufficiently sized levers currently being employed, and we’re working to develop a strategy that puts us in a better place.
1:55:35Rep. Scott Perry (PA): Mr. Secretary, this is a picture—I’m sure you’re well aware—of an M1 tank manufactured right here in the United States, paid for by the citizens of the United States, with their taxes. That is a Hezbollah flag on it. I am concerned and have written letters regarding the Train and Equip Program in Iraq and the Shia Crescent and the land bridges they’re building across Iraq with the militias there again. Many of the Iranian people want freedom, they want peace, and the don’t agree with the regime that they’re working—living under. But I offered amendments in the NDAA to stop the funding and the Train and Equip Program. One was found in favor; one was not. So we leave it up to you. I want to make sure that you’re aware that this is happening, including militias like Kata’ib Hezbollah, listed as a terrorist organization for killing American soldiers. And if the Congress is unwilling to stop it, I hope you will be willing to stop the funding and the Train and Equip Program in Iraq and funding the Iranian militias that are willing to kill Americans and Jews and everybody across the Crescent that disagrees with them. Mike Pompeo: I’ll say this: it is the case that when we perform Train and Equip functions from time to time, equipment ends up in the hands of the wrong people. It’s a risk inherent in those operations. The question becomes, is the value we’re getting from that training, those exercises, outweigh the risk that that happens? You should know that the U.S. government works diligently to put rules and processes in place to make that picture, or pictures like that, as infrequent as possible. Rep. Perry: I don’t think the Iraqis are complying.
2:03:45Rep. Ron DeSantis (FL): In terms of what’s going on in Venezuela, there’s a pretty significant Cuban presence of military intelligence. Is that your estimation? Mike Pompeo: I’m sorry. Could you repeat the question? Rep. DeSantis: In terms of the situation in Venezuela, propping up the Maduro regime, is part of that the Cuban military and intelligence apparatus? Pompeo: In this setting I can say there are a great deal of Cuban influence that is working alongside the Maduro regime. Rep. DeSantis: And it’s not helpful to what America wants. Pompeo: It runs adverse to U.S. interests, directly adverse to U.S. interests.
2:05:42Rep. Ron DeSantis (FL): The Iranian people, obviously, are not happy with this regime. I mean, this is a militant, Islamic regime that’s been really imposed on relatively pro-Western populous, educated middle class. We see the protests. The president has spoken out, I think correctly. What can we do to help, because it seems like the regime cracks down on the social networks, they don’t want there to be a free flow of information, but I think it’s certainly in our interests to empower people who view this regime as illegitimate and not representative of their ideals. Mike Pompeo: It’s long been U.S. deeply held position that we will do the things we can to ensure that peoples all around the world have their human rights, their political rights, their capacity to express themselves. We shouldn’t shy away from that with respect to Iran, either. There are a number of tools that we can use, some of which I’m now responsible for their implementation; others exist other places in government. We should bring them all to bear to allow the Iranian people to be governed by the leaders that they choose.
2:59:44Rep. Ted Lieu (CA): I’d like to ask you now about Yemen. As you know, the war in Yemen is now the world’s worst humanitarian disaster. Over 22 million people are now at risk of starvation, 8 million don’t know where their next meal will be, and every 10 minutes a child dies of preventable causes. So the U.S. is involved in Yemen in two ways. One is we are striking terrorists. Now, I don’t have a problem with that. But the other way we’re involved is we are assisting the Saudi-led military coalition. And again, I don’t have a problem with assisting our allies, but I do have a problem when that coalition is killing large numbers of civilians through airstrikes that are nowhere near military targets. And as of last September, more than 5,000 civilians have been killed, the majority from these airstrikes. In 2016 the State Department, its lawyers, have wrote a memo saying that because we’re refueling these planes, the Saudi jets, and also providing them other assistance, that U.S. personnel could be considered a co-belligerent and liable for war crimes. I know you just came on as secretary of state. Wonder if you’ve had a chance yet to read that memo. Mike Pompeo: I have not. Rep. Lieu: At your convenience. Pompeo: But I will. I will review the memo. Rep. Lieu: Thank you. I appreciate that. And if you could also make a request to your state department to see if members of Congress could also review that memo in a classified setting as well, that’d be appreciated. Pompeo: Have you—You’ve not had a—I take it you’ve not had a chance to see it. Rep. Lieu: We have not. Pompeo: Yes, sir. Rep. Lieu: So if you could make that request, that’d be great. Pompeo: I will review that, absolutely. Rep. Lieu: Thank you. So, when this conflict first started, we had all these airstrikes from Saudi-led coalition, and what it turned out is that it’s not that they were trying to hit a Houthi vehicle that was moving and they missed and struck a bunch of civilians; what ended up happening is they intentionally struck those civilian targets. So they struck hospitals, weddings, schools, markets, and last year they struck a funeral, that killed hundreds of people, twice. So they hit this funeral, and the jets went around and hit it again a second time. Very precise. That’s why the Obama administration actually stopped a shipment of precision-guided munitions because they realized actually these jets are intending to strike their targets and they were civilians. It’s my understanding that the Trump administration is now going to go forward with that sale. Just wondering why do you think anything has changed in Yemen that would authorize this sale to go forward? Mike Pompeo: So, I’m cursorily familiar with the incidents you’re describing. There are a very rigid set of rules that are thought deeply about in every national security agency that I’ve been part of—at the CIA before, now at State Department—with respect to providing munitions to organizations that are intentionally engaging in civilian targeting. We have a complex set of rules and prohibitions. We would never do that. It is this administration’s judgment that providing the precision-guided munitions actually decreases the risk to civilians. And it’s for that reason we think this actually makes sense, certainly for our allies and partners but also for citizens that are engaged in ordinary activity inside of Yemen. And if I might, this administration’s also taken serious action to do our best to reduce the humanitarian crisis that is Yemen as well. We’ve not resolved it, but we’ve made real progress. Rep. Lieu: Thank you.
1:40:39* Senator Rand Paul (KY): I think many people would admit that the Iran agreement had some deficiencies. One of the largest deficiencies might have been that the $100 billion was released all at once instead of maybe gradually to help modulate behavior over a longer period of time. That being said, the $100 billion that was released was a great inducement to get Iran to sign the agreement. That was a carrot, and that carrot’s gone. They’ve gotten the good thing, and now we want compliance, and now we’re pulling out. And so the question is, what are the next inducements to get them to sign things, or will there not be? I think there’s a question with—there are two possibilities, basically, of what will happen. So you reintroduce the strongest sanctions ever. They either don’t work—that’s one possibility—because they’re unilateral, and some say unilateral sanctions won’t work. Let’s say they don’t work. That means Europe, China, and Russia continue to trade with them, and Iran says, “Well, they’re going to continue to trade with us. We’ll just keep abiding by the agreement.” They don’t develop any more nuclear weapons or technology towards that, but they don’t do anything else that you would like—ballistic missiles, less terrorism. So, really, basically, we don’t get what we want if the sanctions don’t work. Second possibility. Let’s say the sanctions do work. We have enough manipulation of money that flows through us from Europe. Europe does a lot of trade with us. Europe buckles. I think Russia and China still will trade with them, but let’s say Europe buckles. And let’s say it works, and it puts enough pressure on Iran, then there are two possibilities of what Iran does. The first possibility is they say, “Oh, Secretary Pompeo. We love Secretary Pompeo’s 12-point strategy, and we’re going to accept that.” I think that’s unlikely. The second possibility, if the sanctions work and they put enough pressure on them—Iran feels the pressure—is that they restart their nuclear centrifuge program. So those are two possibilities. But what I’d like to do is go through the 12 steps that you’d like Iran to do and sort of explore what these would mean if we thought about them in terms of bigger than Iran. So one of your first things is—and this came up during JCPOA, but nobody really could really get this done—you want Iran to reveal the military dimensions of its nuclear program. Well, let’s substitute Israel for Iran there. Does anybody think Israel’s going to reveal the military dimensions of their nuclear program? Well, you’ll say, “Well, they’re our friend.” Well, yeah, but from Iran’s perspective they see Israel as a rival and a regional rival. Let’s put Saudi Arabia in there. Well, Saudi Arabia revealed the military dimensions of its nuclear program. Well, some might say, “Mm, they don’t really have it.” But I’m guessing there are files over at the CIA that say, “Well, you know what? They have talked to people about purchasing it. Some say they have purchased nuclear technology.” I can guarantee we know that, and you probably can’t admit it, but let’s put Saudi Arabia in there. Are they willing to discuss anything they have done to develop nuclear weapons? So really what you’re asking for is something that they are never going to agree to. Okay? You can try to crip them. It’s sort of like unconditional surrender. You’re not getting that. Let’s move on. Proliferation of ballistic missiles. I don’t like them threatening surrounding countries or us with ballistic missiles. Nobody does. But they respond not just to us; they respond to Saudi Arabia. There’s a 1,000-year-old war over there. There’s a 1,000-year-old religious war over there, and there’s hostility between the two. So when we supply weapons and the Saudis buy ballistic missiles—the Saudis have a ballistic program—they respond to that. The Saudis and their allies, the Gulf sheikhdom, spend eight times more than Iran. So when you tell Iran, “Oh, well, you have to give up your ballistic-missile program,” but you don’t say anything to the Saudis, you think they’re ever going to sign that? They would have to be crippled and starving people in the streets for them ever to agree to give up their ballistic-missile program. Had we kept the Iran agreement with them and you said to the Iranians, “Well, we want less of an arms race over there. We’d like to have peace with Saudi Arabia. Could we get Saudi Arabia to the table, with Iran, to discuss either a freeze of ballistic missiles—” you know, when we went to Russia, we didn’t just succumb and say we’d give up our weapons. Neither did Russia. We did it in parity. We had an agreement. If you leave Saudi Arabia out of it and you leave Israel out of it and you look at Iran in isolation, that’s not the way they perceive it. So, don’t think they’re going to jump at your 12 notions here of what you’d like them to do. Mike Pompeo: Senator, may I make this one point? Paul: Go ahead. Pompeo: I think the example of Saudi Arabia’s a reasonable one. We have told the Saudis exactly what I asked from the Iranians. Paul: To talk about their nuclear program? Pompeo: They have said they want a peaceful nuclear-energy program, and we have told them we want a gold-standard, Section 123 agreement from them, which would not permit them to enrich. That is simply all I’ve asked of Iran as well. Paul: Do we have information that the Saudis have talked to actors in Pakistan and other places about purchasing nuclear technology? Pompeo: Sir, I can’t answer that here this morning. Paul: Which is to say we, in all likelihood, do have that information. And so the thing is it’s a one-way playing field. Unless we understand that there are two big players over there—really, three big players: you got Iran, you got Israel, and you got Saudi Arabia—we want Iran to do things we’re not willing to ask anybody else to do and that we would never do. So— Pompeo: Senator, I disagree with you. I think we ask most nations to do precisely what we’re asking Iran to do. Paul: Let’s move on to another one of your 12 points and the military support for the Houthi rebels. Well, once again, you’re asking them to end it, but you’re not asking the Saudis to end their bombardment of Yemen. I mean, if you look at the humanitarian disaster that is Yemen, it is squarely on the shoulders of the Saudis. And so we’re going to ask the Iranians to quit supplying—they, in all likelihood, are the ones supplying the missiles—and we get reports, and the Defense Department comes and says, “There’ve been 32 missiles strikes in Saudi Arabia.” Well, there’s been, like, 16,000 bombings of Yemen by Saudi Arabia. Nobody even mentions that. We act as if it didn’t even happen. If we are so ignorant that there’re two sides to this war, we’re never getting anywhere. Iran’s not going to stop doing that, but they might if you sat them down with the Saudi Arabians, said, “This arms race doesn’t make sense,” and Saudi Arabia’s willing to sit down at the table. You know, is Saudi Arabia willing to stop, another one’s withdrawal all forces under Iran’s command throughout the entirety of Syria? There were dozens of groups in there, even ISIS, that were getting weapons from Qatar and Saudi Arabia. In fact, one of the leaked emails from WikiLeaks was from Clinton to Podesta, saying, “My goodness. We’ve got to stop Saudi Arabia and Qatar from funding ISIS.” That’s a direct email. They were acknowledging they knew about it, and they were acknowledging it was a problem, but weapons were flowing in to all kinds of radicals in there. So if you want Iran to stop—and I mean, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are 10 times the problem, you know? The whole Syrian war has all of these radical jihadists. The people who attacked us came from Saudi Arabia. We ignore all that, and we lavish them with more bombs. So, really, until we acknowledge there are two sides to the war—or three sides to the war in the Middle East—you’re not going to get the agreement. I think it was naïve to pull out of the Iran agreement, and I think in the end, we’ll be worse off for it.