Mike Pompeo spoke at Hillsdale on Monday | Wikipedia

The with­drawal of the U.S. mil­itary from Afghanistan was America’s “greatest self-inflicted wound,” said former Sec­retary of State Mike Pompeo in a speech at Hillsdale College on Monday. He accused Pres­ident Joe Biden of casting aside the Trump administration’s plans for an “orderly and struc­tured with­drawal,” resulting in a humil­i­ation for the United States and tension with American allies. 

In wide-ranging com­ments that involved pro­gressive dom­i­nance of Hol­lywood and the threat of the Chinese Com­munist Party, Pompeo said America’s founding prin­ciples remain intact. He claimed he spent his time as sec­retary of state working to pre­serve them. Pompeo ref­er­enced Rome’s fall after three cen­turies of power. 

“We’re in our third century now,” Pompeo said, from a podium in Plaster Audi­torium. “And it must not signify our descent. The world is depending on us to prevail. We must pre­scribe faith to a higher power, alle­giance to Amer­ica’s founding doc­u­ments, and a com­mitment to American exceptionalism.”

Pompeo praised school choice and Hillsdale’s 1776 cur­riculum and denounced critical race theory. 

“It is neither critical nor a theory,” he said. 

Pompeo said he values faith and family as an “evan­gelical Christian.” He warned against the deifi­cation of the federal government. 

“The single biggest risk to the United States of America is in our schools and our fam­ilies,” he said.

 “Our gov­ernment should never promote policies that disrupt this idea.” 

A former Repub­lican con­gressman from Kansas, Pompeo grad­uated from West Point and served as a tank com­mander in the Army. He was director of the CIA in the Trump admin­is­tration before becoming sec­retary of state. Many pundits regard him as a pos­sible Repub­lican pres­i­dential candidate.

During a question period, Pompeo responded to an alle­gation in Yahoo News by reporter Michael Isikoff that Pompeo as CIA director had con­sidered “killing or kid­napping” Wik­iLeaks founder Julian Assange. 

“Don’t believe Michael Isikoff,” Pompeo responded. “Don’t believe every­thing you read on Yahoo News.”

He con­demned the admin­is­trative state and encouraged civilians to hold gov­ernment leaders accountable for their actions. Pompeo credited Trump for his defenses of reli­gious liberty and election integrity. 

“Pres­ident Trump was a leader who the American people wanted,” he said. “He gave me a lot of room to go work on reli­gious liberty. We pri­or­itize this in a way that no admin­is­tration has and it didn’t take 20 minutes for the Biden admin­is­tration to knock the entire edifice of reli­gious liberty down.” 

Though Pompeo did not claim that the 2020 election was stolen, he said it was the respon­si­bility of Amer­icans to make the 2022 election cycle dif­ferent from 2020. 

“We have to make one that’s better than our last one,” he said. 

Soma Prisme, a lawyer and pilot who attended the lecture, said she was inspired and encouraged by the speech. 

“He reminded me of the integrity of Amer­icans,” she said. “He strikes me as a familiar char­acter because of his back­ground in aero­space and he reminded me of the good, everyday, normal Amer­icans who get things done. You can tell this man has fought a battle or two, and he’s not afraid of the fight, and I think he effec­tively com­mu­ni­cated the message that we can win this.”

Pompeo con­cluded his talk by saying the Hillsdale sup­porters in the room were pre­pared to defend America’s founding principles. 

“We are not in decline,” he said. 

“It’s an inter­esting position,” junior Josh Barker, who attended the lecture, said. “While his explicit answer to our dilemmas is, in part, that renewed Christian faith is needed to re-invig­orate America and keep us rooted, his entire speech sug­gests to me that he believes a return to tol­erance for all is crucial.” 

A group of stu­dents met with Pompeo at Broadlawn prior to the lecture. Senior Class Pres­ident Jacob Hooper said that meeting the former sec­retary of state was one of his “most fas­ci­nating expe­ri­ences at Hillsdale.”

“He spoke to us about the lessons he learned while serving as sec­retary of state,” Hooper said. “Specif­i­cally, he said, “Per­sonnel is policy,” meaning you need the federal gov­ernment to be staffed by people who are willing to execute your agenda and not subtly work against you. Pompeo gave us little anec­dotes of such dif­fi­culties he faced while serving as sec­retary of state.”

Hillsdale College Pres­ident Larry Arnn intro­duced Pompeo to the packed auditorium.

“I’m sorry to say that the current sec­retary of state is not able to make it,” Arnn said, receiving a roar of laughter from the audience. 

“I thought Pompeo was very impressive,” Jerry Brauer, a Hillsdale res­ident who attended the lecture, said. “I hope he has a further career in politics.”