Pompeo Takes Freedom & Democracy Tour To Central Asia—Targets Countries ‘Too Close’ To China, Russia

Pompeo’s tour of Central Asia was dedicated to what he described as nations that want to be “sovereign and independent,” but need Washington’s help in order to achieve that status…

Ahead of his trip to Central Asia, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed his goal was to speak to nations that want to be “sovereign and independent,” but which he believes need Washington’s help in order to achieve that status.

The list included Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan—all of which are located near China and Russia. Pompeo’s talks with leaders included warnings about the influence of China and Russia, and it appeared to be his pitch for why they should invest with the US instead.

When he was in Kazakhstan, Pompeo specifically focused on the claim that Chinese investments may appear attractive now, but would hurt their sovereignty in the long-run.

I’ve also talked about the Trump administration’s forthcoming Central Asia strategy, which puts your independence and prosperity at the core of our approach,” Pompeo said. “We fully support Kazakhstan’s freedom to choose to do business with whatever country, whichever country it wants. But I’m confident that countries get the best outcome when they partner with American companies.”

The timing of this trip is notable, as the US appears to be moving forward in its trade deal with China. But with China pushing its trillion-dollar Belt and Road initiative, there could be backlash if the US hinders its progress.

Pompeo made a big promise during his visit to Belarus, which is that the US can supply the country with 100 percent of its oil and gas.

Up until this point, Belarus has relied on Russia for more than 80 percent of its energy. But a recent breakdown in talks and an ongoing conflict between the two countries resulted in Russia cutting off oil supplies last month.   So Pompeo claims the US is more than ready to play a bigger role in the region.

I want to emphasize that we fully support Belarus desire to make its own choices, pursue its own partnerships and play a constructive role in the region. Your nation should not be forced to be dependent on any one partner for your prosperity or for your security,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo claimed Belarus should not be forced to rely on any one nation to succeed—but by offering to supply all of its energy, he is setting up an unprecedented reliance on the US.

During an interview Pompeo discussed the importance of maintaining freedom of the press, and how it shapes societies. However, when he was questioned about a recent feud he had with one NPR host, and whether it led to a reporter from the organization being banned from this trip, he insisted that he only travels with reporters who are honest and truthful.

Beyond that, there are still global concerns about how the US is treating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who remains in prison in London with the threat of extradition to the US. He faces life in prison here on charges related to his publication of files that show the horrific killing of civilians by members of the US Military. Many have raised concerns about the implications such a sentence could carry for the future of publishers and journalists.

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Rachel Blevins is a journalist who aspires to break the left/right paradigm in media and politics by pursuing truth and questioning existing narratives.

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