Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday that under President Donald Trump, American foreign policy would not mimic former President Barack Obama’s infamous “lead from behind” strategy, but America would now be leading “from the front.”
“I want our diplomats – those diplomats who are tasked with representing you all around the world – I want them to comfortably, unapologetically and respectfully advance American ideals and interests in every corner of the world,” Pompeo said at the 2018 Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC. “And you should know – you should know that because we believe these principles are worth living by, we proudly raise our banner of self-government, freedom, and human dignity all across the world.”
“We will never accept a diminished role for America on the global stage,” Pompeo said. “We’re going to lead from the front.”
The “lead from behind” quote came from an Obama adviser to explain that administration’s approach to diplomacy during the Arab Spring in 2011:
“Leading from behind” is how one White House adviser describes the balance Obama is trying to strike between the goals of spreading American ideals avoiding insurgency quagmires. “That’s not a slogan designed for signs at the 2012 Democratic Convention,” Lizza writes, and, in a bit of an understatement, the adviser explains, “It’s so at odds with the John Wayne expectation for what America is in the world.” But, the adviser says, “it’s necessary for shepherding us through this phase.”
Obama defended it in an interview with Jay Leno where he said it was “leading from the front” to make sure the United States did not act on its own internationally.
“There was never this sense that somehow we were unilaterally making the decision to take out somebody; rather it was the world community,” Obama said.
Pompeo noted during his remarks the pushback he got from some for speaking at the largest annual gathering of conservatives in the country.
“There were some folks who didn’t want me to come here today,” Pompeo said. “I don’t know if any of you read about that.”
“But it seems to me only natural that an American secretary of state would come to talk to you about America’s values and interests,” Pompeo said. “And I know that religious freedom is important to each of you, and it’s important for me to be here to talk to you.”
“This State Department under President Trump is fighting to make sure that American citizens and American interests come first in our foreign policy,” Pompeo said. “At the very heart of our mission is the preservation of human dignity.”
“And this administration understands an eternal truth – that each person has an essential worth simply because he or she is human and having been created by God,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo also announced that the first convening of an international ministerial on religious freedom held this year at the U.S. State Department would be hosted again there in 2019.
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