Secretary Pompeo: Thank you very much. And thank you, Jerica
[Lamar], for that kind
introduction. Now, as the Secretary of State, we do diplomacy, which
means you have to get the
protocol right. So, howdy.
Audience: Howdy. Whoop...!
Secretary Pompeo: Itís great to be
in Texas, one of the greatest countries in the world. Yeah, I just came
back from South America, now Texas, and Iíll return to the United States
in the morning, yes.
Seeing you all here reminds me of a
George Patton quote. He said, ďGive
me an Army of West Point graduates and Iíll win a battle. But if you
give me a handful of
Texas Aggies, Iíll win a war.Ē1
Thatís tough to take
from a West Point graduate.
Look, I understand that this institution has sent more of its graduates
into the military than any other university other than our military
academies. Itís because you all are tough, youíre committed, and you
want to serve. You should be proud of that, and I love it. And itís why
I really wanted to be here today. I want to thank, too -- I want to
thank the Wiley family for making this series possible.
Now, I know, I get it, diplomacy doesnít sound as thrilling as firing
anti-tank weapons, flying
F-16s, crawling through mud. Thereís no ďTop
GunĒ version of the State Department. Instead we get ďMadame Secretary.Ē
No offense to Tea Leoni, those of you who are her fans.
But thereís a good reason that many former military officers end up
working as diplomats serving our country. Itís because the work that we
do is important for our soldiers, the soldiers need us, and we need
them. Neither diplomacy nor the military can succeed at delivering for
presidents and for our country without the other.
And Iím not the first guy to figure this out. In 1946, President Truman
was traveling -- President Truman was traveling with Winston Churchill to
Missouri, where Churchill would deliver his famous
speech. He delivered it there at Westminster at a local college.
the train, Truman showed Churchill a recent re-design of the
presidential seal. The eagleís head was turned to the right, so it faced
the talons holding olive branches. Now, that represented diplomacy. But
rather than having the eagle turn to face the arrows, which represented
war, Churchill pondered for a moment and he said, ďI think the head
should be on a swivel, back and forth.Ē
In other words: Diplomacy and military strength go hand in hand. They
are indeed intimately related. Each relies on the other.
I saw this as a young Army captain way back in the 1980s, when I
patrolled that very Iron Curtain that Churchill spoke about. I had the
incredible privilege, along with my fellow soldiers, we were there to
deter the Soviets and indeed prepare this country for the worst. But
ultimately, it wasnít our tanks that delivered that victory. It was
diplomacy, backed by the credible threat of force that we had projected.
Aggies have a long history in the military. But you also have a long
history serving Americaís diplomatic mission at the State Department,
and Iíd love that to continue. If you join us, if you work, it will make
a difference in the life of every American.
Now, Iím going to speak just for a couple more minutes because I want
plenty of time to take your questions. But before I do, I want to talk
briefly about three aspects of my life, of the State Departmentís work.
First, itís an incredible element of promoting national security.
As they did during the Cold War, diplomats build relationships to ensure
that disagreements never boil over into military conflict.
Take Jerica, you just heard from, and her team. Theyíre talking to
Mexican authorities to alleviate migrant crisis and to secure our
Her colleagues are confronting the opioid crisis by encouraging partners
to cut off the drug flows, that fentanyl that comes in the United States
and wreaks so much destruction.
Just a few months ago, we saw the announcement that China made that they
would do their part to deny fentanyl access to our country. It was State
Departmentís diplomats who sealed that deal.
And farther from home, State has helped grow the ranks of the
Defeat-ISIS coalition, an enormous victory. Weíve seized back 100
percent of the caliphate, liberating millions of Syrians. American
diplomats were at the center of creating that coalition and reducing
threats to our citizens.
Just this morning, I spoke with our ambassador, who is working to bring
peace in Afghanistan. Thereís another graduate of this fine institution,
a young lady named Melissa. She is supporting our work there to broker
peace between the Taliban and the Afghan Government. Weíre trying to end
the longest war in United States history and save the lives of Afghans
and American soldiers alike.
Or take a man named
Steve Biegun, a truly remarkable fellow. Heís one of
my special reps. Heís working on the North Korea file.
His team has gotten an international coalition together to put the
toughest sanctions in history on Chairman Kim Jong-un and his country.
But Steveís work is also important in that we are keeping the door open,
working to achieve a diplomatic outcome where North Korea will be
denuclearized in a way that brings peace to the peninsula.
Steve and our team have gotten enormous results. I was privileged to be
in North Korea where
Kim Dong Chul,
Kim Hak Song, and
Tony Kim were able
to climb on an American airplane and return home from their -- to their
families from being held hostage in that country, a remarkable
diplomatic achievement. Indeed, Iíll never forget the moment, the very
moment when they met their families on the tarmac. President Trump was
there to greet them too, and I was thinking that morning -- it was 3:00
a.m. Washington D.C. time -- about the amazing work that our team had
done not just that day, but in the weeks and months before that. Absent
that great work, absent the work of people like you who decided to join
the Department of State, they might well still be held in the hands of
the North Koreans.
The second thing we do every day at the State Department people donít
truly see directly: We make sure that our diplomacy impacts the American
people by strengthening the United States economy.
The truth is we have to compete in a global economy. The United States
businesses need access to markets all across the world. President Trump
is determined to open those markets for our products. Thatís certainly
true of companies and businesses here in Texas where exports benefit
your economy to the tune of $260 billion a year. It supports more than
900,000 Texas jobs.
And we help. We help by supporting these economic opportunities through
our diplomats. We work to open these markets where there are some 1,600
economic officers stationed all across the world. We try to take down
barriers. We try to make the case for American companies and why they
can deliver true value to nations all across the world. Indeed, itís the
case that there is seldom an engagement -- I was in South America just
before coming here today. Not a single one of my conversations -- not in
Chile, not in Peru or Paraguay or in Colombia did we miss the
opportunity to make sure they understood that America was there prepared
to help create value for their countries as well.
But you should know itís more than just commerce. Thereís a strategic
element to this too. In Houston last month, I spoke to a group to talk
about how energy impacts each and every one of us, how there is a
national security component to Americaís capacity to deliver energy all
around the world. We watch as a pipeline is being built in Europe, which
will tether Germany to Russia in a way that is not good for German
security or the security of the United States of America. The work
thatís being done here in Texas and Kansas and Oklahoma, all of the
energy fields and in North Dakota -- if done well, can work with our
diplomacy to deliver true security not only to America, but to Europe as
And you should know Aggies are also helping State create a program to
transport excess natural gas from right here in Texas to the Dominican
Republic, so it can be sold throughout the Caribbean. We want to make
sure the lights are on for your next spring break.
Weíve got another team, a team thatís working to warn our friends and
partners against buying Chinese 5G technology and build out their
infrastructure with Chinese equipment. These are companies like Huawei,
which will take your private information and transfer it to the Chinese
Government. It makes no sense. And American diplomats are at the
forefront of sharing this information with the world.
Weíre working on various missions, including making sure that the nature
of Chinese Orwellian systems, particularly their clampdown on people of
faith, are impacting us right here at home. I recently had the privilege
to meet with a group of
Uighur Muslims that came to my office. They
talked about the systemic imprisonment, they talked about oppression,
and even torture happening in parts of China today. This cannot be
allowed to stand.
Weíre exerting maximum pressure to change the very nature of the Islamic
Republic of Iran to make sure that that regime simply behaves like a
normal country and does not spread terror throughout the world. Today as
we stand here, Iran is engaged in conducting an assassination campaign
throughout Europe. Our diplomats are working to push back against them
so this will stop.
And my most recent trip was part of the effort thatís being led by the
Organization of American States and the Lima Group as we work to
human rights and democracy in Venezuela. I know that we will ultimately
be successful and that Mr. Maduro will leave that country.
Our diplomats also go on offense to promote American values, in part
simply by building and maintaining a set of relationships that are
centrally important to our country. These deep friendships matter as
time moves on.
Jerica mentioned some of the work that she does with the youth in Ciudad
Thatís a long-term investment in our relationship with our partners to
the south in Mexico. We trust that the young people that sheís working
with will come to understand America, that they will come to understand
how much we care about them. And when itís their time to lead, they will
become good partners for our great nation.
We do something different on a truly national scale as well with foreign
aid. We provide assistance to countries like no other country in the
Our goal is often to turn struggling nations into strong, long-term
partners, democratic partners for the United States.
And in times of crisis, when weíve offered a hand, I can tell you that
people like Melissa, the former Aggie stationed there in Afghanistan
today, will benefit from the American aid which weíve provided to that
About four years ago Melissa was in a tour in Nepal when a devastating
earthquake hit that country, killing nearly 9,000 people.
She said it was one of her proudest moments as an American diplomat. She
watched as the embassy rallied to the peopleís side, allowing those in
need to come seek services at our embassy, to shower and to seek food
and shelter at the American embassy.
For her next tour, she went to Kabul. And just moments after she landed,
another earthquake. Everyone in the airport thought it was an explosion,
but she knew. Sheíd been through this before.
She next traveled to Mexico City. The year was 2017.
Youíll all remember it was one of the most devastating earthquakes to
hit the Mexican -- Mexico City in decades. And Melissa saw the great
work that the embassy did to make sure that the people of Mexico City
got back on their feet.
I made sure that Melissa did not come to visit with us today.
She will tell you that as a diplomat, there was nothing more rewarding
than watching American excellence, American graciousness, American
resources in power, to meet and help people in times of adversity. This
is the life of an American diplomat, and a noble undertaking, and one of
true public service.
He would meet with our ambassadors as they went to the field. He would
ask every ambassador who came by his office just before they went out
for their first assignment -- he would give them a pop quiz.
He would take them over to the side of his room, he would point them to
a globe, and he would ask them -- he would say, ďNow that youíve been
confirmed by the Senate, point to the country that you now represent.Ē
And theyíd all fail, because theyíd point to the country which they were
leaving. Indeed, the correct place to point for every one of our
diplomats is their service to the United States of America.
Secretary of State Shultz knew that, President Reagan knows that,
President Trump and I know that too.
I know that you all have a tremendous sense of duty, a tremendous sense
of service. I hope that today you can see that Americaís State
Department is committed to living up to those standards.
And if our mission appeals to you after your time serving elsewhere, we
would love to have you come be part of our team.
Thank you all for letting me be here today. Thank you for allowing me to
be with you. Good luck, God bless you, and I look forward to taking your
questions. Thank you.
Mr. Petroff: I wanted to start first by asking about -- if there are some
young people in the crowd that really did hear that call to serve, what
are the steps they should take in order to join the State Department and
make a difference in the world?
Secretary Pompeo: Talk to the team standing right in the back on your
way out. Weíll sign you up. So thereís lots of different
ways to serve at the State Department. We have folks from all different
backgrounds -- engineers, event planners, speechwriting teams, all the
skills that the Lord gives different people. You can go take a look on
our website, and then for those who want to make a career working in the
Foreign Service, study hard and prepare for the Foreign Service exam,
and then the process is pretty straightforward from there.
Mr. Petroff: Okay, great. As we sort of look towards the future, what
does -- how does the State Department meet the technological challenges
that the 21st century presents?
Secretary Pompeo: So thereís two things as we look forward that I think
are absolutely paramount. As Jerica said, Iím now two weeks short of
being Secretary of State for one full year. Thereís two things, as I
stare at the State Department to make sure that weíre ready for the 21st
century. One of them is what you identified. We need the capacity to
move at the speed of our adversaries. They move quickly. Whether thatís
al-Qaida or ISIS or the Russians or the Cubans, they make decisions
quickly. They -- none of those are democracies, with all the process
thatís attached to that. And I wouldnít trade it for the world, donít
make -- donít confuse. But we have to make sure that American diplomacy
can move at that speed. Thereís an information component to that,
thereís a technology component to that, and thereís places that we have
real work to do.
The second thing we need -- and by the way, that space, that information
management space, we saw this with the Russian efforts to impact our
elections. We see this in the information space in Iran today. That
information space is an incredibly important component of being able to
deliver the American message around the world in ways that it wasnít 20
or 30 years ago. The capacity for cheap, simple information readily
available on your handset is different and presents a different
information challenge for us. And we need to make sure that weíre
sitting there right on peopleís handset sharing the American message in
the same way that our adversaries want to share in those countries as
The second piece is cultural, inside an institution. I have run a tank
platoon. I was an executive officer in a cavalry troop. I ran two small
businesses then was the director of the CIA, and now I am running the
State Department. Every organization has to have an ethos, a central
mission set that is clearly understood so that every single officer of
the State Department understands the commanderís intent.
And so weíre working to build out life-cycle training programs and
making sure that the ethos of the 21st century diplomat, the commitments
that I spoke about in my remarks, are at the forefront of every
officerís mind. So when you get to a place and you get to a time when
there is a decision to be made, and perhaps the guidance isnít detailed
sufficiently, youíll have the principles, youíll have the core
understanding of what it is the expectations are for American diplomats,
and youíll make a really good decision. Iím confident that weíre in a
good place there, but thereís always more that can be done.
Mr. Petroff: Great. Our campus is so excited to welcome you here today,
and in the leadup to today we gave the community the opportunity to
submit some questions. And Wiley has gathered some of those great
submissions, and so now Iíd like to turn to our audience for some more
Can you please stand?
Secretary Pompeo: Hi. Howdy. Get it
right. I got it.
Question: Good job. Good job.
Secretary Pompeo: Iím from Kansas. I can --.
Question: So my name is Riley Ferrell [ph]. Iím a sophomore here, and I
have a question for you. Here at Texas A&M we have a very strong tie to
the military, which is very similar to your alum, West Point. How has
this exposure to military culture when you were younger shaped your
perceptions of diplomacy?
Secretary Pompeo: Yeah, that is a fantastic question. You do have that
same culture here for sure. Throughout the whole institution, the
commitment to duty and service permeates this institution in the same
way it did the place that I did my undergraduate time.
I will tell you the other thing that I really took away from my time as
a young officer in the military that I think is of enormous value in my
current role, and I ask all of our diplomats to do this, which is to
listen. I remember -- Iíve told this story before -- thereís an E7 named
Sgt. 1st Class Petry, who, when I was a young second lieutenant, I went
to my first assignment. I got out of what was an MI51 Jeep. Very few of
you would remember these. And I climbed out and I walked over to him,
and I had my gold bar and Iíd been commissioned for all of, I donít
know, 90 days or 120 days. And I walked up to Sgt. Petry, and he saluted
and said, ďYoung man, youíll do well if you just shut up for a while.Ē
He was right. I was also afraid of him, so it all worked.
The capacity to understand, the capacity to listen in the military, is
critical -- to listen to your soldiers to make sure you understand, to
listen to your commanders so you understand exactly what it is theyíre
trying to get at -- the same thing as here. I spend a great deal of my
time talking and engaged with my counterparts around the world. I was
with Chilean President Pinera a few days back, right? I wanted to not
only hear him, to hear what heíd said, the things he had on his mind,
but to listen in a way to try and comprehend what it was he really
wanted and how our two countries could work best together.
If you said whatís the one thing that I remember from my time in
service, I learned a lot about leadership, but one of the things I truly
did come to appreciate was the value of listening and taking onboard the
ideas of others so that you can execute the mission more effectively. I
hope all of the folks who work here at the State Department take that
lesson onboard as well.
Question: Thank you so much for your answer and for joining us here in
Secretary Pompeo: Thank you, Riley.
Question: Hi, Mr. Secretary. Thank you for the opportunity. My name is
Angelita Garcia [ph]. I am a third-year Ph.D. student. My question to
you is: How does the State Department handle time-sensitive issues such
as the humanitarian crisis currently gripping Venezuela? Thank you.
Secretary Pompeo: So you have a big government, and that means sometimes
we donít move just as fast as we need to. The great news is, is when a
crisis breaks, weíre good, weíre very effective. So we have a group that
is called the USAID. They provide aid and assistance, usually medicine
and food. And literally within a handful of days of the recognition that
the crisis, the humanitarian element of the crisis in Venezuela, had
spiraled, it had spiked -- it had been difficult; this has been years in
the making, but it had taken a step change in the wrong direction -- we
were able to move not only food and medicine, but water. We were able to
mobilize airlift from our military, C-17s flying to -- I flew in here
from Cucuta, Colombia, to take it to the border. The American people are
enormously generous. Itís still sitting. I walked through the warehouse,
where there is still food and medicine sitting.
We canít always get it -- as in the case of Venezuela, we werenít able
to get it to the people who needed it. Maduro is still denying food to
the starving and medicine to sick children. I saw some of those sick
children yesterday who had crossed the border into Colombia. Itís truly
tragic. But you should know the State Department in a crisis, and those
crises can range from humanitarian crisis to -- I recall very early in
President Trumpís term -- I was not in this job, I was the director of
the CIA at the time -- when Bashar Assad had used chemical weapons
against his own people. Your government was able to, in the course of a
very eventful 36 hours, do all the groundwork that was needed to make
sure that we could respond, to let them -- the leader there in Syria
understand that this was unacceptable and this administration wasnít
going to allow the use of chemical weapons -- Assad to use chemical
weapons against his own people. We moved quickly, we moved accurately.
The Department of Defense did its task flawlessly. It was a
demonstration of American capacity to move in crisis moments in a way
that is very effective.
Question: Mr. Secretary, thank you for being here today. I am a Dreamer.
What would you tell the Dreamers in this country who have love for this
country, who attended these universities like I have, and who fear this
Secretary Pompeo: Yeah. So --
Question: And thank you for being here.
Secretary Pompeo: Thank you very much, sir. Look, this administration
has been clear: There was a -- there was work that was done early on in
the administration, try to achieve comprehensive immigration reform
which would have impacted many. I donít know your particular situation,
but would have impacted many. Couldnít make the political machine work.
It is also the case that President Trump is determined. He is determined
to ensure that thereís American sovereignty on our southern border and
that we know whoís coming in and out of our country. That seems like a
-- there seems to be widespread agreement -- I served in Congress for
six years, so I suppose you could say Iím part of the problem too, but
suffice it to say I think thereís consensus there, and yet we canít get
our laws tweaked in a way that I think would fundamentally recognize the
central values of America in a way that would do honor to all those who
want to come here and want to come here in a way that is lawful and
those that are trying to come here legal, which is something President
Trump has made clear. And I think thereís consensus on both sides of the
aisle, frankly, that thatís something that we need to be capable of
stopping as well, so --
Question: Excuse me, Mr. Secretary. Iím 100 percent disabled veteran,
and she is -- the lady here -- sheís active Army. And due to my service
to the country and her service to the country -- I [inaudible] -- that
we are not able to go to see our family, as you know better than
everyone in this room. And I just need my family. I have not seen my
mother-in-law, my brother-in-law for seven years. And your subordinate
in Embassy Dubai -- they denied the case, although we dealt -- we told
them we just need to see them for 12 days to show them the country and
see me. And -- but they denied the case.
And I served the country, I -- disabled 100 percent. After [inaudible],
I lost 25 friends just in my last deployment, but no one taking care of
my kids. And I told them theyíre not going to be staying here as an
immigrant, they just want to come here to see me, to see my home, and
thatís all I need, for just 10 days. And they did even not listen to me,
sir. Okay, thank you.
Secretary Pompeo: Yeah, thank you. Thank you for your service. I canít
comment. I donít know your particular case, so I just canít -- I
apologize. I canít answer your question about that particular situation.
Mr. Petroff: If we could please hold questions to those with the mike,
Question: He is the state representative.
Question: Mr. Secretary, with the new designation of Iranís
Revolutionary Guard as a foreign terrorist organization, I was wondering
how heavily the United States would be pursuing sanctions against
companies with alleged dealings with this organization.
Secretary Pompeo: Vigorously. So Iíll -- so we never talk
about sanctions, any particular sanction before we get to the place
where we can make a decision, but this was -- if you back up a step --
itís -- you have to back up a step. Our mission is to try and create
peace and stability in the Middle East. Thatís the macro objective. And
so weíve worked on that by building out an enormous coalition to defeat
ISIS. Weíre still working to take down the remnants of ISIS. There are
various estimates, from 5 to 12 to 21,000 members of ISIS who are still
there, moving around in Iraq and Syria and Turkey. Our efforts to
continue to prevent them from attacking around the globe are real and
serious and will continue.
The second piece of that has been to identify the other great threat,
which is the Islamic Republic of Iran, which remains the largest sponsor
of terror, who has supported Lebanese Hezbollah, has supported
Hezbollah's actions in Syria. The Shia militias under the stranglehold
of the ayatollah who are working in Iraq arenít working for the best
interests of the Iraqi people. You see whatís happened in Yemen -- an
enormous -- an enormous humanitarian crisis. The UN did good work in
Stockholm to reach an agreement, but the Iranians wonít let the Houthis
actually implement the Stockholm agreement. So the second piece of this
is to convince Iran itís not in their best interest to continue to
foment terror and engage in malign activity all throughout the Middle
So a -- so the next step down from that is how do you do it. One of the
pieces of that is our sanctions effort. We have lots of efforts apart
from that. With respect to the designation, which actually came into
effect just this week, some -- the unclassified -- some 20 percent of
the Iraqi economy is controlled by the IRGC. So my wisdom for those of
you who are connected to companies that might be doing business with
them or if youíre the general counsel for a European bank thatís doing
business with a company that might have a 20 percent shareholder, the
IRGC, is you should check your work.
Question: Howdy, Mr. Secretary. My question for you is: Given your
experience as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, can you
elaborate on the intersection between U.S. intelligence operations and
U.S. diplomatic operations, as well as how the two cooperate or clash?
Secretary Pompeo: Yes, maíam, I can.
Howdy to you. So itís amazing -- Iím the only person ever in American
history to hold both of those jobs consecutively. Weíll find out if
thatís a good idea or a bad idea. The history books will get to write
It was fascinating. It was great preparation, because I had a couple of
advantages coming into this job. I had had a chance to work on almost
every one of these same problem sets from a different optic in this
administration, so it gave me a good jumpstart when I came to be
Secretary of State.
The two institutions have very different mission sets. The CIAís mission
set is clean and simple: deliver the best data set to the most important
leader in the world and deliver it in a timely fashion and a consumable
fashion. So as CIA director, you spend every moment worried that you
didnít get the president of the United States or the secretary of state
or the secretary of defense the information they needed to make a really
world-class decision in a tough space. So thatís the CIA mission.
It doesnít come into conflict with the Department of State all that
often. Indeed, I spoke with
Director [Gina] Haspel just this morning. I had a
handful of questions about a particular problem set I was working on. I
asked her to go make sure that tomorrow when I have the opportunity, I
get a chance to see their latest and best information set. So they will
be providing a tool for us. Done well, the Intelligence Community --
more broadly than just the CIA, there are many other elements, we have
folks that do lots of other pieces of intelligence collection -- the
Intelligence Community will provide that fundamental underpinning.
I talked about the Syria chemical strike. The first in the barrel to
respond to that was the CIA. The President wanted to know immediately
were they really chemical weapons that were fired or was this -- right?
Weíve all seen YouTube videos that turned out not to be true. Were the
chemical weapons actually fired by the regime? Did they actually hit
civilians? What was the magnitude, what was the scope, what was the
nature of those chemical weapon systems? Before he could make a decision
or even consider a recommendation by his secretary of state about how to
respond, he needed to have best-in-class data.
And we were under the gun. The CIA, the Intelligence Community doesnít
get things right every time. It has a history; itís made mistakes; itís
imperfect like the rest of us. So we were under the gun. The President
gave us just a handful of hours, and we deployed an amazing team -- a
team of chemists and physicists and engineers and battlefield experts
and explosive device experts and folks who spend their whole life
looking at potholes in the road to decide what it was that actually
created that crater. Itís a great life.
It took us a few more hours than I wished, but in a matter of hours I
was able to deliver a very clear response to the President, identify
places that were risks, what we knew, what we didnít know, but it gave
him sufficient information that he could then move on to look for the
then-secretary of state to give him a recommendation about the foreign
policy that we ought to pursue there, and then in this case he turned to
the Department of Defense to consider potential responses as well. It
was a place where you see a perfect example of Americaís military and
diplomacy and intelligence all working together to deliver to the
President of the United States a clean set of options based on real
Question: Thank you, sir.
Secretary Pompeo: Thank you, maíam.
Question: Howdy, Mr. Secretary.
Secretary Pompeo: Howdy.
Question: My name is Sanjay Letchuman [ph], and I was wondering, in the
light of recent diplomatic efforts abroad with nations such as North
Korea and Syria, which you talked about a little bit, do you see
sanctions being lifted off these nations in the foreseeable future?
Secretary Pompeo: Sanjay [ph], I hope so. I would love nothing more than
to lift the sanctions on North Korea, I truly would, because it would
mean we were successful. It would mean that North Korea no longer had a
nuclear weapons program or a weapons of mass destruction program. It
would mean weíd had the opportunity to verify that that was the case, so
we knew we werenít taking anyoneís word for that. It would be a glorious
thing. President Trump talks frequently and tweets almost as often about a brighter future for North Korea, right?
We desperately want that. Steve Biegun -- I mean, the work that heís
done and our team has done -- we have -- itís remarkable. We have the
toughest sanctions in history on North Korea today. And frankly, the
work thatís been done at the United Nations -- theyíre not American
sanctions. These are UN Security Council resolutions. These are the
worldís sanctions on North Korea. Theyíre the toughest in history, and
yet we have also made more progress on negotiating the leader of North
Korea to make a strategic shift, to make this decision that says, no,
itís the -- these -- the history which said that a nuclear weapon system
is the only defense, itís our only lever for security, to make the shift
to say no, thatís actually what threatens our nation the most.
We havenít gotten there. Chairman Kim signed a document in Singapore in
June. Heís told me no fewer than half a dozen times that he is prepared
to denuclearize. Iíve now spent more time with Chairman Kim than Dennis
Rodman. Iím very proud of that. Weíre not home yet, but I
pray that one day that President Trump gets to announce that weíre
removing the sanctions regime from North Korea.
Syria -- I put Syria in the same bucket. There are those who think that
Assad has prevailed. I donít know that thereís a need to declare winners
and losers, but the facts on the ground are that today Assad rules over
a very broken country with 6 million displaced persons. He controls,
depending on how you count it, a third to 40 percent of the real estate
of Syria. Much of the oil wealth, the thing that has driven Syriaís
economy for an awfully long time, is not in the control of the Assad
regime, and he faces a determined coalition put together in part by the
institution that I am so privileged to run, whether they are European
countries or Gulf state nations or countries even in Africa who
recognize that we canít begin to rebuild Syria until there is a
political resolution there.
And so before those sanctions go away, before not only the UN sanctions
but the American sanctions, the sanctions that the European Union has
put in place go away,
UN Security Council Resolution 2254 will have to
have been fulfilled, which means a political resolution to the outcome,
so the migrants who have left Syria for Turkey and for Lebanon and for
Jordan can return home and a political process can begin to move
forward. These sanctions are never something we do with glee, and we do
them only as a means to try and achieve an outcome thatís good for the
United States and good for the world.
Question: Thank you so much.
Secretary Pompeo: Thank you, Sanjay
Question: Mr. Secretary.
Secretary Pompeo: Yes, sir.
Question: My name is Oren Shed [ph] and I am a freshman at A&M, and itís
an honor to have you here. My question is: What are some important parts
of the State Departmentís work that many people are unaware of?
Secretary Pompeo: I talked about the economic work we do. You cannot
have an effective national security policy without an economy that is
growing. We should all be mindful that America remains $22 trillion in
debt. That is a challenge. For those of you who -- my son is 28 years
old. I figure weíll pay the bills while Iím here. I wonder if we will
for his whole life. You have to have an economy that is thriving and
flourishing, and the State Department takes this mission on.
There is no other American institution that has officers in the field at
nearly every American embassy -- 180-plus American embassies -- where we
have economic officers who, for those of you who go decide to start your
own business or run a company or become part of a global operation,
touch base with our team. We are unabashed in the Trump administration
about making sure that American businesses get every opportunity to go
I talked about the aid distribution that we do. I donít think people
often connect up the State Department with the humanitarian assistance
work that we do, not only the money but the work that we do to
coordinate. It is almost always the case that when you see a catastrophe
like you saw in Mozambique now a few weeks ago, it is almost always the
case it is a State Department officer from the United States that among
-- that are among the first people that the government of that country
turns to to begin to coordinate and develop effective responses. Weíre
incredibly proud of that work.
The last thing that I didnít get a chance to talk about that we do is we
run big programs that are cultural exchange programs. You would have
students here at Texas A&M who came in from other parts of the world to
come and study and be part of America. We also work to make sure that
students here in America get a chance to go study in other nations. It
is remarkable how often Iíll be meeting with a foreign leader and I find
that his English is better than mine. That is often because of a State
Department program that gave them the opportunity to come visit,
understand the United States of America, and the dividends that that
pays to our nation from having invested those resources are really
So thereís a couple, three thoughts about things the State Department
does that donít make the front page of the local paper.
Question: Thank you very much.
Secretary Pompeo: Thank you, sir.
Question: Howdy, Mr. Secretary. Could you please share more with us
about how you see the relationship between the United States and Latin
America developing in the areas of trade and immigration?
Secretary Pompeo: So our administration is an enormous beneficiary of
the changes that have taken place in South America. For those of you who
know the history of South America, democracies have been too few and
free-market economies have been far too scarce. Today, South America is
turning back in the right direction. You see that in Peru, you see that
in Chile, you see that in Brazil, you see it in Ecuador, you see it in
many, many South American countries where people have recognized that
the old model -- call it -- I donít want to use a pejorative, but these
werenít free-market economies -- but that the old model had failed them
and that they need to rejoin the global world and compete and produce
product and add value.
So on trade I think thereís an enormous opportunity for American
businesses to go to these places, to go to South American countries and
sell our products. Thereís growing middle classes in these countries as
well. And they will also continue to deliver product into our country,
so they will continue to move up the value chain and deliver goods for
American consumers at prices that are affordable. I think that trade
opportunity down there is enormous.
When those countries become successful, the migration issues become
mitigated, right? People want to stay in their own countries. When I was
on the -- itís been -- 36 hours now. I was on the bridge between
Colombia and Venezuela. I watched hundreds of people streaming into
Colombia. This was on Palm Sunday afternoon. Hundreds of people steaming
in there. And I had a chance to talk with a couple of dozen of them.
With one exception, they all wanted to return home to their own country.
They had family there, they had deep roots there. But they had nothing.
There was no economic opportunity for them. Indeed, many of them said
that they had stayed in Venezuela longer than they probably shouldíve. I
met two mothers who had begun to feed their children every other day.
Thatís breathtaking. Absolutely breathtaking.
So as -- so the solution to that, thereís now a million-five migrants in
Colombia, there are three-quarters of a million migrants in Peru from
Venezuela, hundreds of thousands strewn in other countries in South
America. The solution to that is creating democracy and opportunity
inside of Venezuela. Thatís -- the answer to the migration problem which
is burdening Peru and Colombia and Chile, and now Ecuador, the solution
to that is creating economic opportunity at home so these people can
stay in the first instance.
Now, some 3 million of a population of roughly 30 million -- 10 percent
of the people of Venezuela -- have been forced to flee their country. We
need to do two things. First, we need to fix that, allow the Venezuelan
people to fix that so that the next 10 percent donít leave. Thatís the
estimate for 2019; somewhere between another 2 and 3 million people will
have to flee Venezuela because of economic hardship. And then if we do
it well and are good enough to do it quickly and begin to rebuild
Venezuela, we can get some of the 3 million who have left back home --
back home to their families, back home to their homes, back home to what
they know and love so that they can be part of the rebuilding of
Venezuela. I see those same opportunities with respect to migration
issues all throughout South America and Mexico too.
Mr. Petroff: All right, I think we have time for one last question.
Question: Hi, Mr. Secretary. My name is Ben Allen [ph], and Iím a civil
engineering student. My question for you is: How do you balance
condemnations with concessions in diplomacy with a controversial
government such as Saudi Arabia? Thank you.
Secretary Pompeo: So I always begin with a deep understanding that no
secretary of state gets through their first day without recognizing itís
a tough world out there. We donít appreciate how glorious it is to be
here in the United States of America on a consistent enough basis and
with enough fervor. Maybe you do here at Texas A&M, but I think too many
Americans donít understand how blessed we are. These are -- are many,
many tough places out there.
Having said that, not all tough places are the same. They each present a
different set of challenges. I -- it reminds me, you would know this as
-- itís a bit of an aside. But in terms of how you think about problem
sets, I -- when I was a cadet, whatís the first -- whatís the cadet
motto at West Point? You will not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate
those who do. I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole.
Itís -- it was like -- we had entire training courses.
It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment.
And so when you deal with these countries, you have to just recognize
theyíre not all the same. Some of these difficult, nasty places want to
partner with the United States and just havenít gotten to the right
place yet, just havenít been able to move their own institutions. And
some of them may only be trying half as much as they ought to be trying,
but theyíre trying to move in the right direction. That presents a very
different way of thinking about how the United States ought to address
them. In those cases, we ought to assist them.
We should never shy away from calling them out. We have to be
consistent. The State Department puts out every year a Human Rights
Report. Itís just a compendium of bad acts around the world during the
last 12 months. Itís way too long a book. But you should look at it. We
call out friends, we call out adversaries, we call out everyone in
between. But we have to find places where some of these countries that
arenít living up to our human rights standards -- we address it, we work
to fix it, we hold them accountable as best we can, and then we work to
make sure those things donít happen again.
There are another set of bad actors whoíd just as soon see you all
perish from this planet. That calls out for a different American
response. And so sorting those through, figuring out exactly the right
mix of American tools -- diplomatic tools, economic tools, political
tools, military tools, figuring out precisely what the right mix is the
task that we engage in at the State Department, but we do it with all of
our partners in the national security apparatus as well. So the
leadership in the White House, the Department of Defense, the
Intelligence Community, the Department of Treasury -- we were talking
about sanctions -- all of those have an important piece of figuring out
what exactly the right mix is.
And so just two things. One, we need to constantly evaluate if we have
that right with respect to every one of those actors. Have we got the
right balance? Are they still in the same place? Are they still making
progress? Are they still serious about addressing the shortcomings that
we identify? And then second, we have to be relentless, whether they are
friends or adversaries, in making sure when a nation falls short that
America will never shy away from calling them out for that behavior that
didnít rise to the level that we hope every nation can achieve.
Mr. Petroff: All right. Well, I think thatís all the time we have today.
Thank you so much for taking our questions.
Secretary Pompeo: Thank you all very
Mr. Petroff: It was a pleasure to meet you, sir.
Secretary Pompeo: Thank you. I appreciate it. Thank you all.