Bruce Fein reviews the new book by the former U.S. secretary of state, Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love.
By Bruce Fein
Special to Consortium News
Mike Pompeo swaggers in the pantheon of the best and the brightest who engineered the Vietnam War debacle fueled by the counter-historical domino theory. He graduated first in his class at West Point, graduated from Harvard Law School and served as an editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review. He is intellectually quantum levels above his former boss President Donald Trump. But as Julius Caesar said of Cassius, “He thinks too much; such men are dangerous.”
Pompeo sallies forth like Alexander the Great on Bucephalus in his new book, Never Give an Inch: Fighting for America I Love, to slay the bad guys, i.e., predominantly communist China, Iran, Venezuela and international Islamic terrorists.
Pompeo, a former secretary of state and a former director of the C.I.A. under President Donald Trump and a former member of Congress (2010-2016) during the presidency of Barak Obama, attacks his enemies, real or imagined, with all the zeal and truculence of Spanish Grand Inquisitor Tomas de Torquemada. He sees the world in prime colors without the Aristotelian balance of chiaroscuro. “You’re either with us or against us,’ in the words of Italy’s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.
Pompeo is a devout, evangelical Christian who professes inspiration from God and the Bible. But don’t hold your breath waiting for The Book of Isaiah: “They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” Nor expect to encounter Jesus of Nazareth’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5: 39): “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”
The Pompeo doctrine fits Will Rogers’ definition of diplomacy like a glove: “the art of saying ‘Nice doggie’ until you can find a rock.” Pompeo savages the idea of awaiting an actual or imminent attack before pulverizing nations or non-state actors “not-yet-guilty” of aggression.
He champions slaughtering the perceived enemy based on speculation of future hostilities born of bigotry reminiscent of General John DeWitt’s certitude that Japanese Americans were “not-yet-guilty” of treason in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor because they exhibited all the signs of innocence: “The very fact that no sabotage has taken place to date is a disturbing and confirming indication that such action will be taken.”
He has no patience for Secretary of State John Quincy Adams’ July 4, 1821, address to Congress renouncing going abroad in search of monsters to destroy to preserve liberty and the march of the mind as the nation’s glory at home. In his Hobbesian world, the only safe course is preemptive warfare everywhere until all hypothetical enemies of the United States are vanquished.
Pompeo betrays a shocking ignorance of the Constitution he repeatedly swore to uphold and defend despite his impressive legal credentials. The Constitution endows Congress with exclusive constitutional authority to declare war, regulate foreign commerce and to sanction violations of international law in Article I. The Constitution’s makers were categorical and unanimous about the war power:
President George Washington, who presided over the Constitutional Convention, advised:
“The Constitution vests the power of declaring War with Congress; therefore, no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.”
James Madison, father of the Constitution elaborated,
“In no part of the Constitution is more wisdom to be found, than in the clause which confides the question of war or peace to the legislature, and not to the executive department.”
James Wilson, delegate to the Constitutional Convention and later justice of the United States Supreme Court, added,
“This system will not hurry us into war; it is calculated to guard against it. It will not be in the power of a single man, or body of men, to involve us in such distress; for the important power of declaring war is vested in the legislature at large.”
Alexander Hamilton, Constitutional Convention delegate and vocal advocate for a muscular presidency, understood, “the Legislature can alone declare war, can alone actually transfer the nation from a state of peace to a state of hostility” and thus
“[i]t is the province and duty of the executive to preserve to the nation the blessings of peace. The Legislature alone can interrupt them by placing the nation in a state of war.”
Yet Pompeo tacitly endorses limitless, unconstitutional presidential wars neither declared by Congress nor fought in self-defense. Neither as a member of Congress, nor as director of the C.I.A. nor as secretary of state did Pompeo ever protest unconstitutional presidential wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, and against non-state actors Al Qaeda and ISIS. He believes the president is crowned with limitless authority, among other things, to decide whether and when to attack China or Iran with nuclear or conventional weapons.
Denying the Constitution
None of this is stated explicitly. But it is implied by the book’s exclusion of the Constitution or Congress as relevant to war or foreign policy. Indeed, both are denied even cameo appearances in the making and implementation of national security policy.
Pompeo decries an alleged overreaction to the assassination of United States permanent resident and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia. The C.I.A. concluded with a high degree of confidence that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salam (MBS) ordered Khashoggi’s grisly dismembering in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
Pompeo assails Khashoggi as an “activist” as if the term were a pejorative. Sam Adams was an activist, Paul Revere was an activist, the Boston Tea Party participants were activists, the signers of the Declaration of Independence who risked and gave that last full measure of devotion were activists. America would not be a nation if it were not for activists whom Pompeo scorns. As Justice Louis D. Brandeis underscored in Whitney v. California (1927), “the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people.”
The America Pompeo is fighting for is not the America born at Lexington and Concord with a shot heard around the world. It is an America indistinguishable from monarchy in which the king can do no wrong representing a counter-revolution against July 4, 1776.
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Pompeo approves presidential power to play prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner to exterminate any person on the planet (including American citizens not on a battlefield) based on a speculative hunch that the victim might become a danger to national security. His rebarbative views echo one of his predecessor’s, Henry Kissinger, who groused to President Gerald Ford in 1975, “[I]t is an act of insanity and national humiliation to have a law prohibiting the President from ordering assassination.”
Pompeo heroizes C.I.A. operatives who committed torture (a universal crime under the Convention Against Torture) or destroyed incriminating evidence like Jose Rodriguez.
Pompeo tacitly supports the dragnet, warrantless spying on every American by the national security agency shredding the right to be let alone under the Fourth Amendment. He would have been appalled at William Pitt the Elder’s denunciation of limitless monarchial power to invade the home:
“The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the crown. It may be frail; the roof may shake; the wind may blow through it; the storm may enter, the rain may enter, but the King of England cannot enter. All his force dares not cross the threshold of the ruined tenement.”
Pompeo sneers at George Washington’s Farewell Address. It warned against “passionate attachments” or “habitual fondness” towards any nation. But Pompeo swoons over Saudi Arabia and MBS. As to the latter, Pompeo takes a page from former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young’s gushing praise of Iran’s fanatical Ayatollah Khomeini as destined to “be hailed as a saint.”
Pompeo similarly effuses that MBS “is leading the greatest cultural reform in the nation’s history. He will prove to be one of the most important figures of his time, a truly historic figure on the world stage.”
But Pompeo’s own State Department indicted MBS’s Saudi Arabia for egregious serial human rights violations in 2020 as follows:
“[U]nlawful killings; executions for nonviolent offenses; forced disappearances; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of prisoners and detainees by government agents; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; political prisoners or detainees; serious restrictions on free expression, the press, and the internet, including threats of violence or unjustified arrests or prosecutions against journalists, censorship, site blocking, and engaging in harassment and intimidation against Saudi dissidents living abroad; substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association; severe restrictions of religious freedom; restrictions on freedom of movement; inability of citizens to choose their government peacefully through free and fair elections; violence and discrimination against women, although new women’s rights initiatives were implemented; trafficking in persons; criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual activity; and restrictions on workers’ freedom of association, including prohibition of trade unions and collective bargaining.”
Pompeo’s disrespect for the rule of law was illustrated by his cavalier campaigning as secretary of state on official business for President Donald Trump’s re-election through a recorded speech played at the 2020 Republican National Convention in violation of the Hatch Act’s criminal prohibition.
He says not a word about what, in my view, was Trump’s orchestrated violent insurrection against the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 to prevent the peaceful transfer of presidential power under the Twelfth Amendment and Electoral Count Act.
Pompeo, an honorable man like the men who assassinated Caesar, is courting Trump’s violent mobsters for 2024.
He has defected from the Constitution to limitless executive power.
Beware of his quest for the White House.
Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love. Broadside Books; Jan. 24, 2023
Bruce Fein was associate deputy attorney general under President Ronald Reagan and research director for Republicans on the Joint Congressional Committee on Covert Arms Sales to Iran. His website is www.lawofficesofbrucefein.com. His twitter feed is @brucefeinesq.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
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