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The strange revisionism of Pompeo’s Cairo speech

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s much-marketed speech in Cairo was rich in straw man fallacies while short on substantive specifics, a speech bursting with contradictions that reminded me just how hard it must be to speak for a president who has, at best, an incoherent foreign policy. Pompeo’s speech appeared to have three intended audiences, none of which was actually present in the American University in Cairo auditorium: the Oval Office; the Saudi royal court; and President Trump’s political base, which hungers for ABO (“Anything but Obama”), however inaccurate.

The strange revisionism of Pompeo’s Cairo speech was hard to miss. He began by excoriating Barack Obama for words the former president never spoke. Referring to Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech, Pompeo said that Obama had told Egypt that “radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from an ideology” and that “9/11 led my country to abandon its ideals.” Pompeo argued that Obama was guilty of seeing the United States “as a force for what ails the Middle East,” and that “the results of these misjudgments have been dire.”

Of course, Obama never said any of that. As his presidency began, in a Middle East still roiled by the American invasion of Iraq – a blunder opposed by most of the Arab world – Obama defended the United States: “America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known.” He did make it clear that “I have........

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