Mike Pompeo, who served as secretary of state under President Donald Trump, said this month that Chinese leader Xi Jinping “senses weakness” from the U.S. under President Joe Biden’s administration.
In an Aug. 14 interview with the Washington Times, Pompeo said the U.S. should give Taiwan “every tool” it needs to repel a potential invasion by China, but said an “absence of resolve” from the Biden administration has emboldened China to continue to pressure the democratically-governed island.
“Deterrence depends on both capabilities and intention, and the administration has not shown the intention to protect the things that matter,” Pompeo said.
“When they see that — that absence of resolve — I think it increases the likelihood that Xi Jinping will make an aggressive attempt to do what he has long wanted to do, which is to bring Taiwan back inside of the Chinese orbit,” Pompeo added. “There is little doubt in my mind that Xi Jinping senses weakness from an American administration.”
Pompeo said one of the things he believes could have emboldened Xi and other geopolitical rivals to the U.S. — like Russia, Iran, North Korea and Venezuela — was Biden’s handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last year.
Pompeo said he personally supported reducing the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, but only to a certain point. Trump himself had said in the leadup to the 2020 election that “We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!”
Pompeo, who is a potential contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, told the Washington Times that “every world leader” witnessed the “debacle” of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The Afghanistan withdrawal effort turned into a civilian evacuation as the U.S.-backed Afghan government collapsed while U.S. troops were still gradually drawing down.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the author of a recent House Republican report on the Afghanistan withdrawal said the U.S. military predicted a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan but the Biden administration painted a “very rosy picture” of conditions in the country before the takeover and there was “a disconnect between you know, intelligence on the ground and what the White House is doing.” The House Republican report further echoed criticisms of the Biden administration’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Bagram Airbase before the Afghanistan withdrawal was complete.
Without Bagram Airbase, the final civilian evacuation and final U.S. military withdrawal went through the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. Evacuation efforts were slowed as evacuees reportedly had to cross through rows of Taliban-controlled checkpoints to get to the airport and flights reportedly departed with open seats.
As U.S. troops guarded the airport’s perimeter and State Department officials processed the thousands of evacuees, a bomber working with the Islamic State terrorist group ISIS detonated a suicide vest killing dozens, including 13 U.S. service members. ISIS later bragged that the bomber was able to use the chaos of the crowds to sneak only a few feet from U.S. troops before detonating the bomb.
Pompeo told the Washington Times that during the Afghanistan withdrawal, world leaders “saw an America that wasn’t prepared to do the basic blocking and tackling, something that it was fully capable of doing to protect its people and its interests.”
Pompeo further criticized the Biden administration for opposing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) visit to Taiwan earlier this month.
“Once Speaker Pelosi had announced her intention to travel to Taiwan, to have the executive branch … frankly part of her party … come out and say, ‘No we don’t think it’s wise for her to go,’ is exactly the same language that would be used [by] the Chinese Communist Party’s foreign ministry,” Pompeo said. “That weakens America. It makes us less secure and certainly presents a lot of risk to Taiwan.”
Pompeo characterized the military drills China launched around Taiwan after Pelosi’s visit as “a post-hoc justification for what they’ve wanted to do . . . to unify Taiwan with China.”
Pompeo said, “we should be providing the Taiwanese every tool they need.”
Pompeo also said the Biden administration’s handling of military aid to Ukraine has been slow.
“There’s been all this talk about we’re going to provide these resources, and I think if you ask the Ukrainian military, we have been slow and late and small,” Pompeo said. “You can disagree on the policy, and many do, even inside my own party. But if your policy is to support the Ukrainians and provide them the tools they need to defend their own sovereignty, provide them. Don’t issue a press release; just provide them.”
Pompeo, who has been the recent target of Iranian assassination threats, further condemned the Biden administration’s ongoing negotiations with Iran to return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
While he said the Trump administration was more focused on stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons “the Biden administration is pretty focused on giving them a whole bunch of money, which will ultimately enable them to do just that, to build not only a weapon but a weapons program.”