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Apr 21, 2022
Photo by Derek Redd – Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addresses the crowd Wednesday as the keynote speaker at the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce’s Lunch With Leaders.
WHEELING – America and the western world need to send a message of dominance to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and it starts by being more energy independent and assisting other countries with their energy needs, according to former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Pompeo served as keynote speaker for the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon Wednesday at Wheeling Park’s White Palace. About 400 people were in attendance, according to organizers.
“We should never forget this didn’t start just seven weeks ago,” Pompeo said of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “Vladimir Putin has been at war with Europe since Vladimir Putin has been in power. It happens in different ways. It happens economically. It happens in cyberspace.”
Not even America is immune, he continued. Putin ordered a cyberattack on the systems of a pipeline in the southeastern United States last year that shut down production for three days.
“Our president met with Vladimir Putin, and said don’t do that again,” Pompeo said. “These are the things that signal to bad guys that they can take advantage of an America that is not prepared to lead.”
Pompeo was reluctant to say whether greater military action was imminent in Eastern Europe to assist the country, or if Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would have occurred if a different administration were in the White House and made different decisions.
“I’m a guy who deals with facts, and we know this much… Vladimir Putin didn’t change,” Pompeo said. “Vladimir Putin is still the same guy… the same thug, who doesn’t value human life. He hasn’t changed in his 20 years leading Russia.
“His dream of a greater Russia has been continuous. But his willingness to conduct war has been discontinuous….”
Further action by Putin likely depends “on the response of the western world,” he said. Ukrainian officials haven’t asked the west for military interaction, but rather for America to sell them supplies to help them defend their sovereignty.
“And we have been slow. And we have been late. And the things we have provided have been too small and too few,” Pompeo said. “When people are prepared to defend their sovereignty, this matters.”
Pompeo explained the Trump Administration believed America should use its energy sources to assist countries who otherwise might be dependent on Russia and the Middle East for its oil.
The end result would maintain a more peaceful world order, and less need for military action, he indicated.
“In the Trump Administration, we knew we should achieve not only American energy independence, but American energy dominance,” Pompeo said. “As Secretary of State, I traveled the world trying to deliver markets for our energy providers. And it mattered.
“We knew if we got energy right, we wouldn’t have to send fewer of our young people to difficult places to do really, really hard things.”
Pompeo said he had hundreds of meetings with world leaders while he was secretary of state, and most often the need for American energy sources was at the top of their list.
“They wanted access to America’s energy abundance. They knew it mattered to them,” he said.
Americans often take for granted the abundance of energy sources in this country. But to most of the world having the energy to make engines run and just keep the lights on is a challenge, Pompeo continued.
“As Secretary of State working for President Trump, we had the capacity to provide them confidence, to provide them comfort, to provide what for them was an important political security matter for their country, as well,” Pompeo said.
“Sadly, 16 months ago the new administration came in and shut it all down.”
When America began shutting down opportunities for countries to obtain affordable coal and natural gas offerings, America lost standing with those same countries that needed energy resources, according to Pompeo.
“We not only destroyed thousands and thousands of jobs at home, we destroyed the capacity for America to make friends, partners and allies around the world,” he said.
“When we lose our energy independence at home, we lose the power to use America’s economic might as a force for good in the world to protect our nation, and make our nation more secure so we don’t have to put young people in difficult places.”
In lighter moments, Pompeo noted he was the nation’s 70th secretary of state, while Trump was the 45th president.
“Everyday I was reminded there was a lot more turnover in my gig than his,” he said. “You laugh, but every morning I checked my cell phone to make sure I had a place to go, and my security clearance was still alive.”
Pompeo ran a manufacturing company for 10 years in Wichita, Kansas before opting to run for Congress in 2010.
He said he was familiar with the challenges faced by businesses, their workers and the community. He was himself a chamber member in Wichita who also taught 5th grade boys Sunday School classes.
“It’s funny. When I first ran for Congress it was the tea party class of 2010,” he said. “That was the first time we had to fire (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi. Now it’s (more than a decade later) and we have to fire her again.
“I love her. I hope she’s successful. I hope she has a wonderful retirement.”
Pompeo misses Washington, D.C.
“The truth is, I wish I was still there. I wish I was in that place,” he said. “I was so blessed to have four years to do my level best to deliver positive outcomes for you .
“First as CIA director, then as Secretary of State, the first thing I did when I got up in the morning was to see that day was a little more prosperous and a little more secure than it was the day before, and to manage the risks connected to that.”
Pompeo admitted the Trump Administration was “a unique administration.”
“I’m probably the only Secretary of State who ever ran a machine shop,” he said. “I’m probably the only secretary of state who taught 5th grade Sunday School, as well.
“We came together at a unique time in history where there were many challenges facing our country. And while we did not get it right every day, I am very proud of what our administration did,” Pompeo said.
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Pompeo Discusses Putin, Energy Independence in Wheeling | News, Sports, Jobs – Wheeling Intelligencer