Trump and Pompeo Take Aim at a Multilateralism That Doesn’t Exist

Trump and Pompeo Take Aim at a Multilateralism That Doesn’t Exist
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during an event at the Concert Noble in Brussels, Dec. 4, 2018 (AP photo by Francisco Seco).

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo caused a minor rumpus last week with a speech in Brussels attacking multilateral institutions. His list of complaints about entities such as the United Nations and European Union was long and often quite vague, but his core point was that too many diplomats and international officials have come to see “multilateralism as an end unto itself.”

“The more treaties we sign, the safer we supposedly are,” Pompeo continued. “The more bureaucrats we have, the better the job gets done.”

The secretary of state is hardly the first American politician to dismiss international organizations as bloated and stodgy. He will not be the last. But he is wrong on two basic points.

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