(CNSNews.com) – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo disputed Tuesday that the U.S. is “isolated on the global stage,” but said others are perhaps not ready to confront problems in the way President Trump is. Besides, he added, privately he hears a lot of support around the world for what the U.S. is doing.
Speaking by video link to the World Economic Forum – Trump last week canceled the U.S. delegation’s trip to the annual event in Davos, citing the shutdown – Pompeo spoke again of the need to reform international institutions, following a provocative speech on the topic in Brussels last month.
The WEF president, Norwegian politician Børge Brende, asked Pompeo, “Is America somewhat isolated on the global stage today?”
“I don't think we’re remotely isolated,” replied Pompeo, who earlier in his talk had pointed to coalitions which the U.S. has built or is building to increase pressure on North Korea and Iran to change their malign behavior, to defeat ISIS, and to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.
“There are lots of folks who continue to see America as the beacon that we hope it is,” he added.
Pompeo argued that sometimes those who don’t want to tackle difficult problems are uneasy when others do so.
“It is the case that sometimes leadership, and asking hard questions, drives others to be a little concerned,” he said. “Perhaps they’re not quite ready to stare these problems in the face, but we are. President Trump is.”
“We know that these challenges must be confronted,” he continued. “You can’t continue to let these [multilateral] institutions not perform at a level of excellence that the people around the world demand of those institutions.”
At the same time, Pompeo suggested that some governments were grateful for what the Trump administration is doing, even if unwilling to say so publicly.
“Every place I’ve gone, everywhere I’ve carried this message, the private responses have been to me: We appreciate America taking on these challenges. We’re glad that you’re confronting these, and we want to be with you in achieving the ends that you’re trying to achieve.”
‘Fit for purpose’
In his December speech in Brussels, Pompeo rejected the notion that Trump is undermining multilateral institutions, saying he was on the contrary “rallying the noble nations of the world to build a new liberal order that prevents war and achieves greater prosperity for all.”
He questioned whether institutions like the United Nations and European Union were serving the mission for which they were created. Critics viewed the address as an attack on multilateralism in general and those institutions in particular.
On Tuesday, Bende asked him about that speech and the U.S. view that institutions need to be reformed.
“What we’re looking for in these institutions is to make sure that they are fit for purpose,” he said, and denied that the U.S. wants to take down the institutions.
“Quite the contrary. The way to preserve these institutions is to make sure that they’re performing in a way that reflects well on the goals that the people of those nations want them to achieve.”
For too long, hard questions had not been asked about whether the institutions were delivering in a way that reflects today’s world.
“If they’re not, we need to change them, we need to update them. We need to bring them into his century,” he said.
Pompeo also raised the issue of skewed burden-sharing, a situation which he said was bad both for the country being relied too heavily upon, and for those that are “freeriding.”
U.S. taxpayers will this year account for 22 percent of the U.N.’s regular budget. The next biggest contributors are China (12 percent), Japan (8.5 percent), Germany (6.09 percent), Britain (4.5 percent), and France (4.4 percent).
One hundred and thirty-seven of the U.N.’s 193 member-states will contribute less than 0.01 percent of the budget in 2019, with the 30 poorest assessed at 0.001 percent.