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Pompeo Trolls Critics in Long Goodbye as He Looks to His Future

  • A 10-day swing angers Turkey’s leaders, befuddles the French
  • Secretary of state is seen as harboring presidential ambitions
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo walks into a meeting with the Taliban's peace negotiation team in Doha, Qatar, Nov. 21.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo walks into a meeting with the Taliban's peace negotiation team in Doha, Qatar, Nov. 21.

Photographer: Patrick Semansky/AP Images

By the time Secretary of State Michael Pompeo was wrapping up a 10-day swing through Europe and the Middle East, he had angered Turkey’s leaders, infuriated the Palestinians and befuddled the French.

It’s a trip that seemed almost calculated to offend -- and to burnish Pompeo’s conservative credentials for a possible 2024 presidential campaign. Never one for niceties of etiquette or protocol, Pompeo’s last big tour as America’s 70th secretary of state offered provocations of those who have questioned Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy and Pompeo’s role as its No. 1 promoter.

Like President Trump, Pompeo refuses to publicly acknowledge Joe Biden’s victory in the Nov. 3 election. Nonetheless, the seven-nation journey, one of the longest he’s taken as secretary, offered evidence that Pompeo is already looking past the Trump era, chockablock as the trip was with pronouncements likely to make Biden’s life difficult and setting out a platform for his own political future.

“He’s spending his last two months in office trolling the world,” said Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “It’s an odd role for the nation’s top diplomat to be playing at a rather sensitive time.”