Pompeo fires back at 'dead wrong' Mattis criticism of 'America First' foreign policy

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo dismissed former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' criticism of the Trump administration's “America First” foreign policy approach as "dead wrong" on Tuesday.

"I have a lot of respect for Jim, but he's just dead wrong on that," Pompeo told "Special Report" host Bret Baier. "'America First' has been at its heart, a recognition that when America is secure at home, when America does good things for our own economy, for our own prosperity, that America will be a force for good.

Pompeo was responding to a Foreign Affairs magazine op-ed headlined “Defense in Depth,” and co-authored by Mattis, American Enterprise Institute Director of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies Kori Schake, Hoover Institution fellow and former Commander of U.S. Strategic Command Jim Ellis, and Hoover Institution fellow Joe Felter.

The authors said they hope Biden "will quickly revise the national security strategy to eliminate ‘America first’ from its contents, restoring in its place the commitment to cooperative security that has served the United States so well for decades."

“In practice, ‘America first’ has meant ‘America alone,’” they wrote. “That has damaged the country's ability to address problems before they reach U.S. territory and has thus compounded the danger emergent threats pose.”

Pompeo said he takes "great umbrage" at the suggestion of "America first" meaning "America alone."

"I would tell you our Japanese colleagues, our South Korean colleagues, our Indian colleagues, our Australian colleagues, all know that the [Obama administration] pivot to Asia was a joke but that the United States under President Trump actually delivered real benefits to them," he responded.

"Whether it was the work that we've done to build out an enormous coalition to go after the [Venezuelan] socialist [Nicolas] Maduro, to go after the Cubans, these are real coalitions, real things — it wasn't America alone," Pompeo reiterated.

"It was us doing it with our friends and allies based on shared interests and a reality that recognized central facts about what is and not pretending that things are we would like them to be."


Pompeo also confirmed that there has been no communication between his team and Antony Blinken, Biden’s pick for secretary of state, but that "we will do everything that's required by law. We will make this work."

When asked about his greatest foreign policy concern about the next administration, Pompeo said plainly, "I know some of these folks, they took a very different view, they lived in a bit of a fantasy world. They led from behind, they appeased. I hope they will choose a different course."

Pompeo touted the Trump administration's historic Abraham Accords that normalized relations in the Middle East, their efforts to deescalate "a very tense situation when we came into office" in North Korea, and "the central recognition of the Chinese Communist Party as a true threat to jobs all across America."

"If they'll keep those things center point and center mass," he said, "I think America's trajectory will be one that is safer and more prosperous and more secure."

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

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