Blindside Warning: Joel C. Rosenberg & 70th U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
New York Times Bestselling Author Joel C. Rosenberg and 70th U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discuss the biggest US threats.
New York Times Bestselling Author Joel C. Rosenberg and 70th U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discuss the biggest threats to the United States and Israel. They reflect on the removal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and talk about the role of the Evangelical in the hostile marketplace of ideas. Additionally, Joel provides an inside look at his new nonfiction book, Enemies and Allies: An Unforgettable Journey inside the Fast-Moving & Immensely Turbulent Modern Middle East. The book includes exclusive, never-before-published interviews, insights, and analysis from Rosenberg’s conversations with some of the most complex and controversial leaders in the world, including Pompeo, who graces the first chapter of the book.
Other leaders include:
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS).
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
United Arab Emirates’ Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ).
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. President Donald Trump.
Vice President Mike Pence.
The Joshua Fund recorded this video in September of 2021 at an Epicenter Briefing, sponsored by The Joshua Fund, from the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.
Enemies and Allies: An Unforgettable Journey inside the Fast-Moving & Immensely Turbulent Modern Middle East
By Joel C. Rosenberg
- Good evening, what a joy to be with you all. And I'm so grateful that you came, grateful that the Lord gave us some nice weather and, and yet with nice weather, you came for dinner anyway. So I appreciate that very much. To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it. Let me say that again, to misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it, right. Americans were blindsided on December 7th, 1941 by an evil Imperial, Japan, that we just didn't understand. We didn't understand it. Therefore, we weren't prepared for it, right. We were, we were blindsided when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait on August 2nd, 1990. He had amassed hundreds of thousands of troops on the border of Kuwait. But I remember we had just gotten married. We had, I was working at the heritage foundation, a think tank here in Washington, DC. And I remember everybody, every, it seemed like every Middle East expert was saying, oh, he's not going to invade, he's just saber-rattling. That was the term of the time. He's just trying to drive up the price of oil. He's trying to intimidate his neighbors. And I remember, I would say to Lynn, I would say to people in the hallway, like, it doesn't seem like he's gonna invade. Like I don't have any letters after my name. I don't have all the expertise, all the training, but it just seems like you'd have to. Why do, why do we believe that he's not gonna invade? And you know, obviously, he did. And, and it, and it was enormous effort to repel him and drive him out of Kuwait. Obviously, we were blindsided on September 11th, 2001. We just didn't understand who Al-Qaeda was, who Osama Bin Laden was. He had declared war on us. He had already sent people to blow up the world trade center in 1993 unsuccessfully, thank God, but he'd attacked the US embassy to attack the US warship. So when you, you know, you read through the 911 commission report, right. What is the essence of that report was that it wasn't a failure of intelligence. It was a failure of imagination. We couldn't imagine that people would hijack a plane and fly it into an American city. Now, we all remember what we were doing on 911. And in the new book, Enemies and Allies, I asked a lot of people, including the secretary. What were your memories of that day? I asked crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the crown prince and future king of Saudi Arabia from where 15 of the 19 hijackers came from. Where from whence, Osama Bin Laden came, what were you doing on 911? I'll save that answer, you'll have to read the book. But the point is, I do remember what I was doing on 911. We were living here in DC at the time, we hadn't made Alia yet. And I was in our little townhouse where I was finishing my first political thriller because I was a failed political consultant. And everyone I had worked for lost. And including my last client was then former prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. I was on his comeback campaign team in the fall of 2000. It took him nine more years to come back, okay. So I played no useful role. And so now I was deciding let's make things up for a living. That's all I seem to know how to do. So I was writing my first novel, which was called The Last Jihad. And I was writing some of the final chapters that morning. I didn't have TV on, I didn't have radio on, I was just working. Lynn had taken the kids to school, but she had heard about what was happening on the radio. She burst into the house and she said, you will not believe this turn on television. And we were just about the time we were able to sadly, tragically horrified, see the second plane go into the second tower. Now you, you know, if you, you know, you're here because you have some contact connection to the Joshua and or to me. Well, if you're not familiar with that particular book, it was, you know, first pages puts you inside the cockpit of a hijacked jet plane, hijacked by a radical Islamic terrorist group, flying a kamikaze mission into an American city. This was almost nine months before 911 when I began it. And it led fictionally to a war where an American president sought to remove Saddam Hussein from power. That's how I got started. My interest in the Middle East, my interest in threats to the United States, threats to Israel threats to our Arab allies, and threats to the church had led me out of politics because I wasn't going anywhere there. And into, you know, thinking, well, maybe a novel is a way of sort of both entertaining and warning people of what's coming. What's happened over the last 20 years in our lives has, I could not have mapped out, you know, and, and yet I'm grateful that the Lord has closed certain doors for Lynn me, and our four sons, but also opened others. And, and that really led to a series of relationships. I have made such wonderful friends, I've learned so much. God has just opened doors that I, you know, I just didn't expect. I didn't know, a single person who works at the CIA much less a director until Porter Goss, who had served under President George W. Bush stepped down from being the director and invited me out to dinner and told me, he'd been reading my books. I'm like, well, why didn't you tell me this? When you were on the seventh floor, I would've liked to come over and have coffee. And, but that became a friendship. And later Jim Woolsey, who had served a CIA director under President Bill Clinton. And then in the summer of 2016, I got an email from a staffer for then congressmen, from Kansas Mike Pompeo. It was a young woman who attended the same church that we did, and we knew her parents. I didn't really know her. But she said, hey, my boss has been reading some of your books. And if you're ever up on Capitol Hill, back from Israel, come up and have a cup of coffee with him. I said I'd love to. So we had a great conversation. And by the way, this is chapter one. So I won't go into all the details, but I'm just saying we had such a, an affinity. I, I had been watching, well, I wasn't a secretary then, so I'm going to call him a Mike for right now. He had really been fighting these issues, whether, on radical Islamism, the threat from Iran, the threat from Al Qaeda, and ISIS in particular. His concern that genocide was coming. And so, long story short, we covered a lot of ground in that conversation. We had a good cup of coffee, took a picture. I gave him a copy of whatever new book I was working on. I think it was the one where ISIS is trying to kill king Abdullah. I think it was, I think it was Third Target. But anyway, I remember him saying to him, what are we gonna do that then, that administration that was in power was led, had pulled all us forces out of Iraq and a vacuum had been created. And this is where ISIS surge and an emerge and, and set into motion, a genocide. A genocide against Christians, even though Muslims were the ones dying most. And of course, Yazidi's as well. One of the things that then-Congressman Pompeo said is the only way forward I see here is we need a commander in chief who, who has experience, who knows what he's doing, who has judgment as experienced. I said, yeah, but where is that person coming from? Neither of us could have, I don't know. You can speak for yourself in a moment, but I, I didn't imagine that you were about to become the, the CIA director for a candidate that you hadn't really supported and much less the secretary of state. And this assigned that, the relationship you two built fascinating, and really one of the strongest in the administration. And then the assignments that he gave you were really quite stunning. And secretary Pompeo becomes a big part of this book, Enemies and Allies. In a moment, I'll bring them up, but I just wanna, I just wanna frame one thought about the book that the book really looks at two entirely different and contradictory trend lines that are going on in the region. On the one hand, darkness is falling and evil is on the merge, okay. The forces of radical Islamism, even though we've been fighting them for 20 years are actually ascendant. That was true. When I put the final edits on the book in the spring, there are a lot more true now we see the same mistakes from 2011. When all forces were pulled out of Iraq, we're seeing the tragedy unfold again in Afghanistan. Now that we're nonpartisan organization, that means we're nonpolitical, we're nonprofit. So we're not, I'm not here tonight to talk about the, have a critique specifically of an administration for or against either one. But I think we need to talk about the issues that I talk about when both as a novelist, as an author, but also in the Joshua Fund, because when you want to do ministry in Israel, the Palestinian Territories, and the Arab world, you can't just think about the church. You have to think about the church in its context of the geopolitical environment, in which it exists. And when people on across your border are being slaughtered for their faith in Jesus Christ, you know, it affects everything that you do. The persecution, the violence, the terrorism, when people, when the Muslim Brotherhood is taking over Egypt and burning churches down, you can't just say, well, we're just focused on the gospel, okay. So the Joshua Fund is about not just about training and equipping pastors and providing humanitarian relief and, and distributing Bibles and all the things you're gonna hear about between now and tomorrow. You're gonna hear some wonderful updates from Deere allies that work with us. But at the same time, we educate the church here in the US and around the world. What is going on in the region? And how does that affect, the church and how does it affect people who don't know Christ, whom we're supposed to love whether they believe or not. And there's nobody that I know that that can take us into that world better than my friend, the former CIA director, the former, the 70th secretary of state, Mike Pompeo. Mike, why don't you come up and let's begin the conversation. Well, let's begin. We should probably start with the fact that you're a follower of Jesus Christ and your Sunday school teacher, you were.
- [Mike] Former fifth grade, Sunday school teacher, yes.
- How did that prepare you to be a CIA Director and Secretary of State.
- Oh my gosh, best preparation ever. My wife and I did this with another couple, another couple, we taught them. I took the boy, she took the girls. She taught them Bible verses. I made sure nobody heard each other. And so reminded me much of diplomacy, yes.
- You grew, up in a, in a Christian context in the Midwest, but I think it wasn't until college that you came to faith in Christ.
- Yeah, my parents took us to Sunday school. They dropped us off as a story I've told, but I was going to be an NBA basketball player. And that's what mattered, that was my focus. But when I.
- Me too.
- Yeah, exactly, exactly. I had two goals. I wanted to be an arms dealer and an NBA basketball player. I actually sold more weapons than anybody else last year, as secretary of state. So I got to do that, I got to do the, the former but not the latter.
- That's funny.
- When I was at cadet, there were two kids, a year ahead of me. They were sophomores when I was a freshman in that first summer, they would do, they would do what, I didn't really know. They, these were Bible studies on Sunday afternoon when we had a moment. I went because there were cookies, but they brought me to Jesus Christ. These two young men, they were, they were great mentors. They taught me how to read the Bible. And it's something that has fundamentally, in more than just about anything else has changed my life and in a central way that gave me all these incredible opportunities and kept me pretty focused in, in tough times over the last years.
- We're gonna go through some of those tough times. You've had a very colorful last four or five years. And, but just before we do shift that, just how has your faith affected the day-to-day? How do you, how do you walk with Christ at the blinding speed of, of those two jobs?
- Well, you don't always get it right. My wife describes me as an authentic Christian. There's, I'm sure there they're, I'd hope they're not in your book, but there were a couple of moments I use words my mother would not have appreciated. But it was, it's always, since, since those days, that's always been a really important part of who I am. I get asked all the time how do you, you know, how do you separate your faith from your, your job and the, the answer's really simple. One doesn't, I never did. I, I wouldn't know how to begin to do that. It literally informs everything I do to your point. When we were in the summer of 16, I would not have dreamed. I would have been in these roles. You, you joked about this. I worked really hard for Marco Rubio. Yes, don't do not hire me either, but had this incredible opportunity. When the president called and said, hey, would you be my CIA director and got a chance every day to go put on the armor of God and the power of America and try and deliver good outcomes for the American people. It's, it's just, it's, it's the center of who I am. It drove the legal department, state department, nutty. Because I would talk about my faith often, but I always felt it was important that the people sitting across the table from me knew who I was. That they knew that I was going to be fearless in how I spoke about the things that I believed and that they would have an honest counterpart. And I think they truly came to appreciate that.
- They did, I've talked to many of them about you. And, and I think that one of the strange things about American diplomacy is so much of the state department has, has siphoned off any talk of, of a personal faith and to a region in this particular case of the Middle East, where faith is an enormous part, an indispensable part of what, how they think it's, it's almost inconceivable them to think that somebody could walking in and doesn't want to talk about God, doesn't want to talk about faith in any way, shape or form. So I think actually, while they don't agree with you, what theology, that's not what you were there to talk about. That's what I was there to talk about, but, but they respected you for it.
- Yeah, I think you've probably heard me tell this story. I wanted to go to Cairo. The president, Obama, had given a speech. It was his famous 2010, what I called his apology tour. Others called it that as well. I wanted to go give the counter-narrative to that. And I wanted to go to Cairo, to Al-Azhar University, the famous place where Islam is grounded and taught, which is where he'd given a speech from. And so I secretary, state, I was going to go do it. And so we planned a trip to Cairo. It ultimately concluded by my security team telling me, no, you can't go to that particular place. We're not sure we can, we can do this. And I said, why you, you provided security for President Obama there. And they said, they said, yes, Mr. Secretary, they liked him. We're a little more worried. You're throwing more punches. But the speech that I gave that day, I began with the very first sentence was that I'm America's second 70 Secretary of State. And I'm an Evangelical Christian. And that had gotten knocked out a speech a couple of times by the speech writing team. But it was really important to your point, Joel. And I must say, I have, I get comments from people all across the world, even today notes come in. No sentence that I uttered during the four years in service in the Trump administration has gotten as much of a response from the Islamic world as that sentence. Because, because to your point, they, they are faithful. Many of them are very disciplined in their faith and they admire people who are disciplined in their faith. And so, while we are all Abrahamic religions, theirs is different than mine. I think they respected someone who was as committed to his faith as they were to theirs and felt like on the other things, on the things we were working on together, that they could trust me.
- I was at that speech, and I can tell you, I was, I may have been the only person that clapped at that particular line, it was early in the speech. Oh sorry, I could just, you know.
- It was, it was quiet.
- I think that did actually make the New York times because the guy was sitting next to me, but anyway.
- Yeah, I think the New York Times headline that day was crazy Christian, as Ella goes to Cairo. Something like that.
- It was effectively that if it wasn't technically that way. So let's do it, let's do a bit of a tour. In the book, I deal with threats. I deal with opportunities and talk about the future. A month ago when we were still in the process of planning this, I don't think we were going to talk about Afghanistan, even though we were coming up on 911 in many ways, Afghanistan had been was reasonably secure, not good, but not horrible. I mean, you're getting a lot of heat and we're sitting with you. So let's, let's talk about it. The president asked you to go to Doha and sit down with the Taliban and, and negotiate a deal. And, and now it's being implemented, I think very differently than president Trump and you had intended. So, but, but talk to us, everybody's sitting here thinking, wow, when you get a chance to hear him. What was, what was the objective? And what's going on differently now that, how would you guys have handled it?
- So this audience is very different than when I was with Mullah Baradar, thank you. You know, a little background, the number two or three, it depends on how you count a person who I was negotiating with. We knew who the team was going to be. I'm highly confident, killed a very close friend of mine. And so you can imagine walking into that room, trying to prepare, not only on the things president Trump had asked me to do, and the, the situation on the ground, but knowing who was going to be sitting six, eight, 10 feet across the table from you. It was, it took as much focus and as much prayer as anything that I did. But I was on a mission, and the president had given me as a secretary of state. He, he, frankly, wasn't happy with my predecessor and how he had handled this. He, he wanted to begin. You don't have to guess president Trump's Twitter, crown from 2016, says, we're gonna get out of Afghanistan. We're gonna get every one of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines out of Afghanistan. He was determined it was a campaign promise that he had made. So we were working diligently to do that for my entire time, the two and a half years. The conversations with the Taliban were part of that. We were also speaking with the Afghan government, with president Ghani with folks in the North, with women's groups in NGOs. We were talking to all the Afghans, trying to get them all to come together. You know, who knows six, eight, 10-year process, right. When the Colombian settled with the FARC, it was a ten-year exercise. We knew this was more complex than that. So we were under no illusions about a quick resolution, but we also knew that if we were gonna draw down, we had to convince them that we would impose real costs on them if they harmed an American while we were doing that. And so we were very focused on it. The president's talked about a phone call. I think there were actually a couple of them that he had with the senior Taliban leader, making clear our expectations for how, as we drew down, how they would treat America's interests broadly understood.
- That was a colorful conversation from what I've seen, the reporting I've seen.
- Most of them we were with him.
- Okay, well, I mean, he, I don't mean just language. I mean, pretty direct.
- No, he was very determined to make clear, by the way, I had told him, it is very important. If we can't establish a deterrence model, with these folks as we draw down, if we can't convince them that we will use all American power, then we will see the run on our forces and on the Afghan forces. And so we did, there were times they moved in places that they weren't permitted to under the agreement. And I would call then general Scotty Miller, who was the commander of forces Afghanistan at the time, someone I had known for an awfully long time, from my time in the army and say, General Miller, you need to go take that down. And he would, and we established a model where the Taliban understood the boundaries that we had set out in the conditions that we laid forth. If you said, what's the central difference between how this administration approached their draw down. It was that each time we got further down, so we went from 15,000 to about 8,600 then to 4,500 over the course of 17, 18 months. We ultimately made the decision that we could keep Afghan order with about 26 or 2,700 uniformed, military personnel, and a big intelligence operation.
- And you still had NATO forces of about 7,000.
- We had about one-third the US and about two-thirds NATO at that point in time. So yes, with our 2,600, they had about six or seven.
- So eight, 9,000 plus all the folks who had worked for me in my previous role were still on the ground there as well. So we felt like we could keep a good order.
- And with part of that just keeping the confidence of the Afghan military and government itself.
- No, it was a, we were plate spinning. There's no doubt about that. We had to keep lots of groups, confident in the things that we were prepared to live up to. And we had to make sure we lived up to them at every moment with each one of them. But the Taliban knew what the conditions were as well. They wanted the last one out. We weren't about to do it till the conditions were met, during our time on, on noon, on the 20th of January, in spite of the president's deep desire to get everyone out, we never felt like we were in a place where we could do it and still get the three other secondary mission. So mission one, get our folks home, mission two, make sure that we reduce risks that were ever attacked from that place again. So that requires a certain set of conditions. Second, we wanted to get every American out, and third president Trump had a special fondness as a real estate guy. He wanted all the equipment out. And so he would say he would turn to his military leadership and says, I don't want a hammer left. And we would remind the Serb in their 20 years, there was a lot of hammers, but we were confident we could get all the high end, the important equipment out as well if we kept to the timeline and the conditions. And I think, I think president Biden made a different decision. I think he chose to pick a date certain, and once that dies cast, once you've told the bad guys we're leaving on this day, they'll run the table. And I think when they pushed on, on the administration in April and May the administration withdrew, they made the decision not to bring American power to bear, but rather to just say, well, we're leaving anyway. We'll back up. This is the beginning of endless history would, as history would tell you from the other times, we've tried to do these kinds of things.
- We could spend the whole night on Afghanistan, because it's now the central focus of the, of the tragedy of the Christians that are there. The Americans that have been left behind enemy lines, all the green card holders, all the interpreters, and allies, but I wanna shift because we're Israel and immediate focus. So part of that is I think there's a lot of Israel. And most of our American Arab allies in the region are being rattled because of the concern is if, if an American commander in chief can't handle the Taliban, how are they handled, how are they going to handle Tehran, talk about defined for this group, how you see the Iranian threat and where is it today? 'Cause it seems to have accelerated in the last year.
- No, these, these are deeply connected. You know, I laugh people show pictures of me standing next to Mullah Baradar, and I remind them, I met with Chairman Kim, okay. Every bad guy in the world got a chance to meet me. President was equal opportunity and send if you have.
- If you playing the Kevin Bacon game, you are now one, you know, one person removed from the leader of Yin Yang. And from the Taliban
- I joked that the record holder for time spent with chairman Kim used to be Dennis Rodman, now it's me. So the connectivity. So here's, here's a data point that I think is often overlooked. The leadership today of Al-Qaeda, the most senior leaders of Al-Qaeda aren't in Afghanistan. They are not in Pakistan, they're in Tehran. So the numbers one and three, we killed number two. The CIA announced that they killed number two about a year and a half ago in Tehran, the senior leaders of the global operations for Al Qaeda. So running the Al-Shabaab operations in Africa, running the AQAP operations in Yemen, running the Al Qaeda operations in Southeast Asia, all from Tehran. So when people say, hey, the Sunnis and the Shias, can't figure out a way, right. They'll always fight each other. I give you the Sunni leadership in the world's largest state sponsor of terror the Shias in Iran. When we came in, Joe, we faced the situation where America had largely made a peak. And they had decided that they could at least trust the Iranians to balance power between the Sunnis and the Shias. And so they had signed up for this nuclear deal. They had provided resources to the Iranians. They had pushed aside the MRDs and the Saudis. We, we literally, if there's one thing we went 180 degrees on, it would be China and the, and this issue in the Middle East. And that was partly my doing, I had worked on the Iran issue for a long time as a member of the house intelligence committee. And we took the Middle East in three pieces. One, it was our core belief that in the end, we had one single, certain reliable partner and friend in the state of Israel. And so we were gonna do the things that made clear that we were going to be their friends. So it began with the president's decision to move the U.S. Embassy, to Jerusalem. The announcement of the Golan Heights, that we would recognize the Golan Heights as the rightful part of Israel. It's just common sense from my perspective, the president said, what do you think? I'd say they own it, right. And so, you know, not a lot of sophistication, but this was right, we were realists. We what was on the ground was real. And we ultimately, I put out something that made clear. Israel is not an occupier. This was blasphemy inside the state department that appended 30 or 40 years of bipartisan consensus, where we kind of danced around this issue. And we just thought, you know, this is pretty straightforward. We'll, we'll make it clear. I traveled to Judea and Samaria. I was the first secretary of state to do that. These were the things that we did, and I, I mentioned them not to brag, but to say these were the linchpins of what we ultimately did. Second, we acknowledged Iran as the, the biggest problem for instability in the Middle East. I remember briefing the president of CIA director. I, it was unusual. I briefed him when I was in Washington every day, usually a senior staff person from the agency.
- He asked you to come.
- Yeah, he wanted me to be there.
- And that forged a relationship that.
- No, it was, was very important, was really helpful to me when I became secretary. Cause I, I knew how he absorbed information. I knew how he thought about the world. One day, he says, my Mike you come in here and you brief me on all this bad news every day, it's almost always Iran. Yes, sir, it's, it almost always is. And so we set about upending the agreement and then putting enormous constraints on the Iranians, much to our European friends, displeasure, much to the Russian and Chinese displeasure. We were really effective. We had taken the Iranians down to the nub. They went from about $123 billion of available funds for foreign exchange to less than four in January of 2020. Those two things enabled the Abraham Accords. You add to that, the strike on Qassem Suleimani. And you have the trifecta of the things that convince these amazing leaders in the region that said, nope, we're no longer gonna make our central foreign policy feature the destruction of Israel. It took a lot of work It certainly wasn't just the state department. Certainly, Jared Kushner, was certainly secretary ambassador, David Friedman all working seamlessly to try and deliver this outcome, right. We weren't going to permit the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, the central conflict that had stymied peace in the Middle East for decades. We work at a, let that stand in the way of us trying to create a peace framework. And we, we'd convinced MBZ and the Emirates and the crown prince in Bahrain. And I traveled to Sudan a couple of times to try and convince the Sudanese.
- From Israel, you were the first-ever direct flight from Tel Aviv to Khartoum as I recall.
- Yeah, these are hard conversations for those leaders. It wasn't easy for them to make the decision to recognize Israel. And now it looks like the right thing and everybody can say, oh yeah, why didn't this happen. In the end, these were difficult decisions, but each of them did and it was glorious. And I believe now I saw the trade figures today between these countries, they're multiples and multiples of what was going on. I think these will actually stay, but it delivered this understanding, and Afghanistan is connected to this, right. The weakness that you've seen from American leadership over these weeks is certainly being observed in Arab capitals around the world. And in frankly, in Islamic countries, in Asia as well.
- And I would say Moscow and Beijing.
- Oh, of course, we had this confluence of leaders, prime minister, Netanyahu, President Trump, MBZ, this confluence of these leaders who were for a time put in this place. But none of this happens without an America that was prepared to be the guarantor is the wrong word. But the prime motivator who facilitates these relationships from happening, they were having courts can't happen without a president Trump.
- It's interesting because again, it, as you and I were actually were sitting together when you were a Congressman, we were looking at someone, you were saying that you know, that we need a commander in chief that knows what he's doing has experienced, has done this has, you know, the, and if you wrote out a, you know, a description of the kind of person you would expect.
- Yeah, I was wrong about that.
- You would think New York businessman. What's interesting is there's a peace industry in this town. People who say they have all the degrees and they have all the shuttle diplomacy experience, the problem is they never actually deliver peace. And, and one of the things I think was fascinating. And again, I'm not saying this as a partisan cause, many of you know, I was a huge critic of his going. It was interesting to sit in the oval office with him and say, yeah, I was a never Trumper and let's talk. And I don't know how often the term never Trumper is used in his presence, much less in the oval office. But the look, as I said, not often, but we had a really good conversation about these issues. But one of the things that was clear from him, that conversation from, from our friend, vice president, Mike Pence, and obviously from you was throw out the old playbook. If the old playbook had worked, we would have peace, but the old playbook is getting stuck. I mean, it, it's a set of the same assumptions and it's becoming insane. You're doing the same thing over and over, and it's not working. And you guys were flipping the script. I think that's the term you use in the book. I think many people may maybe in this room too, although this is a higher, a much more interested group because of the last 18 months of COVID and all these issues that are internal race riots, huge, you know, a reasonably contentious political campaign. You may have noticed the Abraham Accord, I think in many ways, aren't understood. Take a few more moments to just unpack. What's the, what is the significance to you that for, you know, Arab countries in their own different ways, but have said, we want peace and we want to be a normal, we're gonna have a normal relationship with a Jewish state of Israel. 'Cause that's, game-changing in my view. And this is the first book and the only book, by the way, until Dave Friedman comes out, that that gets the inside story. But what is the significance and significance in your view?
- When I was having these discussions with these leaders, they often had reasons that they would put forth that they didn't want to do it, but I always had the sense, these leaders knew that there was just a matter of time until they got there. So I was working not against someone who was ideologically opposed or philosophic, or even religiously opposed to recognizing Israel, but someone who felt they had a practical problem. And I, my game was to try and move the timeline forward because they all knew in the end, in the end that this wasn't good for their people to have this conflict. I was second sitting in that room thinking about these three Abrahamic religions and hoping one day that you'd see exactly the ceremony we saw on the south lawn with Arabs and Jews and Christians sitting in this amazing place at the white house, right. There were foundational document was you Judeo-Christian driven from our founders. And I dreamed that we'd get this moment. I had no idea if it would just be three of us sitting there, or if there'd be a bunch of country, I didn't know what it looked like, but, but these leaders also knew that as well. They, they certainly weren't going to permit their faith to get in the way of doing what was right for their own country. So we had to make the case to them. You also saw it's a was Arab countries. There was a bit of a bizarre, right. So we, we near-simultaneously told the MRDs that we would sell them the highest and fighters that we had that joint strike fighter. So there were practical considerations, I think about before the Trump administration. Had the previous administration proffered to the Israelis that the Americans were gonna sell our highest-end jet to the Arabs, the Israelis would have, right. They would have been to no way proposition.
- We had gained the confidence that we believe we could deliver this and that the Israelis could get comfortable with the fact that these planes they're at the same planes that they would be flying would also be flying on behalf of an Arab military as well. I mean, it's truly, it's truly remarkable to think about the things we were able to do that would have been unthinkable to two and a half years before that again, great leaders coming together around a set of ideas, where there was true trust and confidence between the nations that we would share intelligence in a way that mattered that we would provide good outcomes in the way that it mattered. And I'll, I'll give one more shout out here. The, the Saudis did not join the Abraham Accord. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia did not sign the, the leadership in Saudi Arabia was enormously useful and helpful in making sure that the Abraham Accords stuck. That once we got there and we were ready to move across the line, this doesn't happen without a crown prince MBS Mohammed Bin Salman. Without his recognizing that this was the right direction for the region to go. And I hope one day we'll be able to tell that story. Maybe ambassador Friedman will tell it, but tell the story about the amazing work that Mohammed Bin Salman did to solidify this historic set of understandings, their commercial understandings, their military understandings, and they ultimately will drive peace and stability in the region. I, I pray one day probably have to wheel me in, in a wheelchair, but I pray one day the Iranians will show up in that same place and have signed a peace accord to, I promise you.
- You are an optimist.
- No, I promise you. I promise you that the Iranian people want that. And that always, that always reminds me that the Lord will ultimately get us there.
- So, all right so let's take a few more moments, just a couple more minutes, and then we're gonna open up for some questions with you all. I want to spend a little more time on the Saudis. 'Cause I spent a lot of time in the book. They are the forbidden kingdom. They are the ones that, you know, I'm not a believer that the Saudi government actively sent people to kill us on 911. But they, they had created a system that it wasn't so far fetched that people would say, we should do this. And it's a very different system today, but it's, you know, certainly of all the meetings I've had and I'm. You know, I expect you to meet the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Nobody expects me to do that. And, but he, but Mohammed Bin Salman is certainly the most controversial, but in many ways, the most consequential of our Arab allies. I mean, the level of change he is trying to move economically socially is unprecedented in the region. And it would be the mother of all peace deals to draw on Saddam's language from back in the day if the Saudis did this. You were in Northern Saudi Arabia as I recall, you sat with the prime minister of Israel, the intelligence chief of Israel and the crown prince. I get that you can't tell us much, but is there anything you can tell us? And what else is going on that you say, okay, this is what's on the record. These are the things that the Saudis have done to strengthen and support peace, as opposed to trying to blow it up, but diplomatically.
- Oh, goodness, you know, there's so much that can't be said.
- Yeah, but that's why I'm looking for a.
- You have to be so careful because it's so complicated. The crown prince has driven more modernity into Saudi Arabia than all of the previous leaders of Saudi Arabia. And you could argue that was a very low baseline. Fair enough, there's always a challenge of rate of change anywhere. How much change can one, one nation or one community absorb Saudi Arabia is also a special place because they host the holy sites. So they have another unique consideration that the leadership in Saudi Arabia and the clerical regime in Saudi Arabia has enormous amount of influence as well. So the capacity for a leader, a young leader, like Mohammed Bin Salman, I think he had his 35th birthday this past week. Wanna ask that, wanna ask to make sure and weigh this right. But if you, if you stare at all the efforts where if you see what he's doing in this city, that'll be along the Western seaboard of Saudi Arabia from Aqaba down. If you look at the efforts he has made to clean up the curriculum in the schools, not only in the mosques inside of Rabia, but around the rest of the world, you could, you could say, it's the glass three-quarters empty, or you could say that's a glass, a quarter full, right. It's an enormous change in their willingness to make sure that extremism in those madrassas is stamped out. Never, they never quite got where we'd like them to get. But boy, I remember when I was a young high school basketball player, I was always thankful there was a most improved, improved player award. There is no doubt that MBS deserves an awful lot of applause from all of us, for being the biggest improver in the way the Saudis deal with Christians inside their own country, Jews inside their own country, and how they are trying to get their country to a better place as well. I, I am prayerful that he will continue down that path, that he will build out a modern society. It will be a Muslim society, but one that delivers on religious freedom and security and ultimately recognition of Israel.
- Well, it was no small thing that he invited two Israeli citizens, Lynn, myself, much less even juggled delegation Ken Blackwell was with us, Larry Ross, several people in this room. Wow, you can see how much more we wanna talk. And we could spend several hours, but I wanna hold about 12 or 13 minutes now. It's not that much, but I also want to pray for him. And he's got a hard stop at nine. So we have a couple of questions. I know there's, some people have roving microphones and maybe Chris you've already got somebody to, to begin, great.
- [Bold Voice] Mr. Secretary, thank you for being here so much, if you were to give advice, let's say you were talking to your pastor back in Kansas, something like that. And you'd say to him, if I could just give you one piece of advice, this is how I would encourage you to exhort your congregation, to do, to consider these things that maybe to take certain actions. What might be some of the things you'd wanna say in a coffee shop there with that pastor.
- So I've told pastor Stan this, he's from East Minster Presbyterian back in Wichita, he prays for me. And we stay in close touch in spite of the fact that I was only able to watch him online for the last couple of years. You can have conversations like this and you can get pretty depressed pretty quickly. It's a pretty dark world, every morning, I got up and read the thick packet of materials there was never any good news in them to speak up every now and again, we'd get something that was good. I reminded him that don't, don't, for one minute, forget the centrality of Jesus in the world. That no matter what I did as secretary of state or a CIA director, as a member of Congress, there were powers much bigger than me who were watching over not only this exceptional nation in which we live but all of us here on earth. And I reminded him, you know, people are watching TV, they're watching whatever network choose to watch. It's conflict, it's difficult. Remind them that, there is, an objective and a mission that is far beyond these earthly concerns. Second, it's pretty easy to forget in the political to, and fro that we are all human beings created in the image of God. So I always remind him to pray for every person, whether they are leaders in the business community or school board members or people who are living in a tent under a bridge in south-central Wichita, or whether they are liberal progressive's who share a very different worldview than he and I do. Pray for those people too, that the Lord will guide them and give them the strength and courage to make good decisions for our nation. Those are, those are the places that I always think we can start. And if we do that, I can tell you, it mattered to me. We would get notes all the time from people saying, I'm praying for you. My wife, the fifth time, she'd get a text message that says praying for you from back home. She'd call what'd you get into this time, Mike. It was our little code, the fifth praying for you called check-in.
- Amen, Amen, who else we have here?
- Yes, sir, I, I guess I'm confused or surprised that after 20 years of dealing with radical Islam, there seem to be so many still in our culture, in our administration, or halls of government that just don't seem to understand radical Islam, the nature of it. Do you, do you have a sense for what that dynamic is? Why do we still not get it?
- Yeah, so it's a good question. I'd start, I'd say two things. First, it's fewer than you think. More get it than you would acknowledge. There are loud voices that don't get it, frankly, a little bit on the right and a lot on the left. So it's not just strictly a partisan issue, but most members of Congress, most of our leaders understand the threat from radical Islam. That the all, everybody then departs a little bit. Once you accept that, because there are those who want to put, they want to be very careful about calling out of faith. I'll never forget, I gave a speech on the house floor and I heard, there were two Muslim members of Congress at the time of the next day. They came up to me and demanded that I take back what I'd said. There'd been a terror action. And I, I called on clerics around the world, Muslim clerks around the world to be stronger in their condemnation of this and speak to this inside their faith. And they just, they found this. I probably wouldn't use the word blasphemy, but that's basically what they said. They, they essentially threatened me. We need to acknowledge that the vast majority of the risk that befalls humans all across the globe today from terrorism stems, from people who claim to be adherence of that faith at the very least. And I think most folks get it now, but they're still allowed vocal minority. Look, it's the stems from the same kind of absence of intellectual rigor. I think that often befalls people who are anti-Semitic. Right, they, they, they simply, aren't prepared to acknowledge that there are bad actors and evil in the world and that, we can pretty much see the black and the white. And we, we know the differences. There's always pieces at the edge. I think you see the same failures and it's often the same people who would have those same views.
- Thank you, good question.
- [Soft Voice] I was encouraged to hear about what had happened even as my husband was there with you in Saudi Arabia and all the changes that MBS is started small to provide religious freedom or just basic freedom. And as an American here at home, I feel like some of my freedoms are slowly slipping away. What would you say to us, followers of Jesus in this room as we look to the future, what's our part, what can we do?
- [Soft Voice] What is your hope?
- That's a great question, really important. You get asked all the time, what keeps you up at night? What's the biggest threat? We will figure out Vladimir Putin. We will deal with the Iranians. If we can't get it right here at home, the Republic falls. This is not an original thought, read the Federalist papers. By the way, you can also turn to pockets of the Bible. That would suggest the same as well. Nations sovereigns fall when people lose their faith. And so we saw this, by the way, we saw this during the time of the virus where bars were open and churches were closed. We saw leaders who simply allowed government to drive them to places that we couldn't have imagined they would go. And I get it, I've talked to lots of pastors. They went different ways at different times for different reasons. Many of them wanted to keep their flock healthy as well. I appreciate that. But boy, it was disheartening to watch so many Americans give up their capacity to be in fellowship with their fellow believers, not just Christians, but being in fellowship with their fellow believers, because the government said that they couldn't do it. This is, this is a dangerous place for America to go. When you see what's taking place inside our schools today, we are again, flashing a red light. And I think this is your concern. I was with a woman I was in, where was I was in New Hampshire. She was a business leader, a Christian business leader, a conservative Republican. But she said she was afraid to speak out because she was a contractor. And she was afraid that she would lose business. Because if she spoke about the things, she truly believed that her business might suffer. And she had 450 employees and she was worried about them, not just her own wealth, but her team too, right. That she was responsible for. I gave her no quarter. If we can't speak about the things we believe why we believe them and defend them in the public space. We know this, right, the Bible talks about shining the light. It's just, there's, there's no doubt about this simple principle. And so my urging to each of you is it's, it's easier to do when you're here with your friends and colleagues. It's harder to do when you're at the PTA meeting. And there's somebody who shares a fundamentally different view than you and they are there taking names. I just take, take a moment, take a pause. You don't have to. I remind my son, you don't have to fight every day. He was, he has seen this square on, right. It's Pompeo, it's not Smith everybody knows who he is. Boy, you need to fight a lot of fights on behalf of your faith and the things you believe in. And if we don't, if those of us who have this particular worldview allow ourselves to be canceled, to allow ourselves to be driven out of the public space, then I worry deeply about the next 245 years for this Republic. The good news is mostly, I've traveled to lots of states over the last six, seven months. I'm finally back in the game. I couldn't do politics for four years, I'm now back at it. People are on fire and people are speaking out. People that you wouldn't have expected, people with relatively little means and power knowing power, people who coming from walks of life, that they've been pretty quiet, their whole lives. They're watching the same things that I just described to you.
- You told me that you told us a dinner that you met a guy. I think in New Hampshire said I've never even been to a school board meeting and I'm running for the school board now.
- Yeah, it's true it was Nebraska. He said, I've never been in a school board meeting. I'm running for school board, my kids are away out of school, but I'm worried about my community. This is good stuff, right. I don't know if he'll win or not. I'll feel, even forgot how to file, right. But he was determined to do his part. And, and that's what, that's the thing that each of us can do. Whether it's going to your Wednesday night chili dinner at your church, or going to help some people who are in a bad place. Those are the things that, that no one has any excuse not to do and we each have a voice. Some of us have a bigger platform or different platform, but we each have a voice and we should, I think the Lord demands that we use it and America certainly needs each of us to use it.
- We've got time for one or two more.
- Thank you so much for being here in your service to America. I think something that's so admirable about president Trump is the way he surrounded himself with Godfrey, men like you and vice president Mike Pence. And I'm not sure if you can answer this question, but what's the faith of president Trump look like today?
- Yeah, I, I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna attempt to answer that. I try not to, I make it a practice, not to try and get in other people's space in that way. But I will say this, you, you talked about the people who were around him, right. Secretary Carson, there were a bunch of us who were faithful, God-fearing, believers. And it doesn't mean we got it right every day. That's who he picked, and that's who the Lord placed around him. And we talked about it openly in the oval office with him. You saw the people that he brought around, right. Joel, I mean, lots of folks had a chance to, to be with him. He was a real estate guy from Brooklyn. And I must say he is the first president, whoever gave remarks at the United Nations on religious freedom. So I must say if you look at the outputs, the things we did, we built out at the state department. He permitted me to do this. We built out these gatherings, the largest human rights gatherings ever held at your state department called ministerials for religious freedom. That's a fancy name for, we brought people from all over the world of every faith we had Bahais and Jews and Christians. And I'm sure we had Wiccans, right. And they came to fellowship.
- Encouraged about that.
- Yes, yes in fact, I was about to joke about the, about the employee base, but in any event, these things happened under President Trump's leadership. And for that, I think the Lord would smile upon the work that we did.
- I had never even set foot in the state department until Mike Pompeo became the secretary of state. And then, and brought in some other wonderful believers, Sam Brownback, who became the ambassador for international religious freedom. A bill, by the way, a law that he helped write when he was in the Senate. And didn't imagine himself actually serving in the role. But I even, you guys invited me to speak at that, at that ministerial. And that is in the book as well, because it's, it's an area that I wish we had more time tonight to talk about the issue of religious freedom, because secretary Pompeo or the vice president, the ambassador for international religious freedom, really at the president's encouragement, we're all in, in terms of encouraging and talking about the fundamental right of everybody to practice his or her faith. Yes or of no faith, but certainly when, when people who are followers of Jesus in the Middle East, let's just take that area alone here, you know, a call for human rights. And that religious freedom is one of those that's very empowering, encouraging, right. And I just want to commend you. I think we can have time for one more question. So you guys can line up for one, but I just want to commend you. You mentioned that speech that you gave at the American University in Cairo. And I had been meeting with president Al-Sisi of Egypt and in our second meeting, he said, we're, he was like Joel, I'm building the largest church cathedral in the history of the Middle East. And in January, I'm gonna give it to the Christians of Egypt, which is by the way, is the largest Christian community in the Arab world. I'm gonna give it to them on Christmas Eve. The Eastern Christmas Eve. First, Joel, I'd love you to bring a delegation to be there with us, absolutely. But secondly, could you get somebody as high up as you possibly could to calm and just honor it, to recognize that this is a, it's a thing. I mean, I'm, it's not exactly his language or style, but I'm just, but essentially that's what he was asking. And I, I talked to Pence, I talked to you Pence had, I think actually Pompeo was going to the region around then and you and I talk and you said, I can't make it for the celebration, but I'm there a few days later. Yes, I'll go to the church. And, and we set up a CBN interview for him to do with that was, that was a cool thing because it sent a message. This is a Muslim leader, building a church and giving it to Christians on Christmas Eve. That's not normal my friends, that's something going on that's very different in this region.
- Yeah, if you have a moment, go look up the remarks that Sisi gave at that, at that celebration on Christmas Eve. It's truly remarkable, it tells you an awful lot about the dynamics in the region and about how faith can change that dynamic. It was truly historic speech that he gave that.
- Amen, Amen, okay, one more question. Michael Liddell, who was with us for all these delegations as well.
- Thank you for being here, sir. We're honored to hear from you. One final question with the victory it's called of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the tragic departure of the United States. What that means to our global reputation. What two nations, where are you the most as you scan the horizon? Who are they, and for what reason?
- So I'll give you one that you would expect. And when that you might not, the greatest threat to the Republic is the Chinese communist party. It's not a particularly close call and my judgment. They have the power capacity and the will to become the global Hederman and the United States for 50 years. By the way, this is not remotely political. No, no president before president Trump had began to confront what we're facing from the Chinese communist party. We, we know communists, I was a young soldier. I patrol the East German border. We know precisely what that tyranny looks like. This is the Soviet Union with an economy of 1.4 billion people and technology that is world-class and rivaled only by hours and a little bit of technology in Europe, a real threat to us. And they are intent on, I had to, I had to close the Chinese consulate in Houston because they were running not only aspiring out of that constant diplomatic institution but an effective spiring. So the Chinese communist party, it's hours worth of conversation about what we need to do. And it'll be years in the work. I pray that this will become a bipartisan response and ultimately a global response to them. At least from the west. I'll give you when you wouldn't expect. I spent an awful lot of time in Mexico, more than probably any secretary of state in the last 40 or 50 years. I was often working on the issues around the border to negotiate the solution that became what we called remain in Mexico. But we should all be mindful that when we talk about ungoverned space in Afghanistan and the risk there, right, because there's no government controlling, providing law enforcement and security, the ungoverned space in the world has mostly been four or five, 6,000 miles from the United States for most of our history. We now have significant ungoverned space within 15 minutes of El Paso. What does that, what are the ramifications of that? We were beginning to grapple with the attorney general Barr and I were both working with the Mexican government to make clear to them that this was unacceptable to us. So today cartels mostly control that space, running drugs and people and bad things in and out of our country from that ungoverned space, you have a corrupt military inside the law enforcement institutions in Mexico, and those places are virtually non-existent. And we should think about the difference between a cartel leader and as jihadist leader. And as you demarcate, if you were to put together a graph that says, what do they have in common? What do they have different? There are some differences, one is religious-based the other's just trying to make money. But I promise you that the Taliban are running a sophisticated business operation as well. We should think about what the risk is to the United States, from having ungoverned space now, right on our border. And we, when we see ungoverned space at other places, we fly drones above and we watch and we need to take strikes we do. It's not how we operate today and our Southern border. And so we really need to be mindful that we now have a lot of risk separate and apart from border security, as we have thought about it for the last 25 or 30 years. We have a lot of risks that no one has yet thoughtfully addressed. There's, there's two things to keep you up tonight.
- I want to close in prayer. So if you'd bow your heads, I wanna pray for the secretary, his family, and his team. Father in heaven we thank you for this night, an opportunity to, to learn more about our enemies, but also more about our allies. We know we live in an imperfect world. We know you're a perfect God, sovereign God, holy and all-powerful. And we thank you Lord, that you put us in our, in the places that you put us in, in our businesses and in our, in our faith communities, in our churches and in government. And I thank you for putting Mike Pompeo at CIA at state. I thank you for all the good work that he did. And now I pray that you protect him, his family, his wife, Susan, his son, Nick. And I think their fiance is in there or a girlfriend. I'm not sure where we are at that point, but protect them physically Lord. He made decisions that he was part of a team that made decisions. You know, this word that, that took out bad guys. And there are people that don't forget these things. Pretty protect him, protect his family and continue to give him the stamina and the strength. And above all your divine wisdom to know what invitation he should accept, what he should say more. I think of John 12:49 is when Jesus prayed. The father commands me what to say and how to say it. And we know with many words, sin is unavoidable, but we just pray that a communicator like Secretary Pompeo is an effective voice in this world for freedom and faith, and Lord, I thank you for his friendship. Not just to me personally, but, but to the Christian community and obviously his great love for his country. We thank you for this time and pray that you would bless us as we go forward. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.
- Thank you, Secretary.
- Thank you, thank you.
- I'm grateful.
- Thanks, everybody.
- While the specific issues of the geopolitics and, and you know, and it's not hard for him not to be entirely nonpartisan. And he has a very strong point of view. That element is not part of the Josh Fund, but this idea of Lord open doors. open doors to build relationships, with believers. I don't know but maybe need encouragement. Maybe they need funding, maybe they need advice. Maybe I need advice, maybe I need encouragement. Maybe I have things to learn from my brothers and sisters in other places, people I never knew before. I opened up an email from a young woman, you know, the daughter of friends at church, and it led to a relationship with a friendship, and a dear friendship with Mike Pompeo. And I'm grateful, but the Josh Fund is entire. This is entirely what we do. We, we call it audacious prayers, crazy prayers. Six years, six, seven years ago. I said, team, I just have this burden on my heart too, I want to go meet King Abdullah of Jordan. And I, we were, we had a board meeting this week and one of the board members who, you know, couldn't be more of a dear friend. He said, honestly, when you said that, I thought you were crazy. That's my friend. He said, you're not gonna, I mean, you're not gonna meet, and this guy is a pastor. He loves the Lord filled with a spirit, you are not gonna meet king Abdullah, sure, sure. Well, we'll pray, you know, wha