In Riyadh, Pompeo’s grin contrasts with image as tough-talking diplomat

In Riyadh, Pompeo’s grin contrasts with image as tough-talking diplomat

The New York Times reports:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has cast himself as a tough, straight-talking former Army tank commander with the moral clarity necessary to confront the world’s bad guys. But on his quick trip to Saudi Arabia, where he sat smiling with royal leaders suspected of involvement in the disappearance of a dissident Saudi journalist, he hardly seemed the image of principled diplomacy.

As he was leaving Riyadh, the Saudi capital, on Wednesday, Mr. Pompeo was asked if Saudi officials had told him whether the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was alive or dead.

“I don’t want to talk about any of the facts,” Mr. Pompeo said dismissively. “They didn’t want to either.”

That set off an immediate maelstrom of criticism against the Trump administration’s chief diplomat.

“The pictures of Pompeo grinning, smiling and laughing with the crown prince — as if a journalist wasn’t just murdered — are remarkable,” Shadi Hamid, a scholar of Middle East policy at the Brookings Institution, wrote on Twitter.

“Not only is it bad policy; it’s downright embarrassing,” Mr. Hamid said. “It makes Pompeo look like an unserious pushover. It’s really indefensible on any grounds.” [Continue reading…]

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