BBG – USAGM Watch Commentary
It appears from multiple online searches of U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) news websites [formerly Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)] that most likely all but one media service ignored Secretary Mike Pompeo’s important speech on U.S. foreign policy delivered at the Claremont Institute 40th Anniversary event in Beverly Hills, California on May 11, 2019. BBG – USAGM Watch volunteers did not check every USAGM news site and in some cases had to rely on Google Translate, but those USAGM sites that were checked showed no coverage of Secretary Pompeo’s “A Foreign Policy From the Founding” keynote address. Pompeo’s speech was analyzed in a Wall Street Journal op-ed “What ‘America First’ Means to Pompeo” by Walter Russell Mead, a senior expert at the Hudson Institute, and The Wall Street Journal‘s Global View columnist.
The Voice of America (VOA) Chinese Service, which may have been the only VOA and possibly the only USAGM service that did report on Secretary Pompeo’s speech, appears to have censored out his most critical human rights message relating to China.
Pompeo’s remark “…the Chinese Communist Party has detained more than one million Chinese Muslims in labor camps, and it uses coercion and corruption as its primary tools of statecraft” was not included in the VOA Chinese Service report posted on its website the day after the speech was delivered and checked by BBG – USAGM Watch late evening on May 14.
We do not know why this material and significant sentence in Secretary Pompeo’s speech relating to China was not included in the VOA Chinese Service report. The news report on the VOA Chinese website appears under the “VOA” byline.
What Secretary Pompeo said about human rights in China would no doubt upset the Communist government in Beijing, but most honest journalists, members of the U.S. Congress, key administration officials and most U.S. taxpayers who pay the approximately $800 million annual price tag of USAGM U.S. government-sponsored media operations would definitely agree that this part of the speech should have been shared with VOA’s Chinese audience.
Why have Voice of America programs to China if such a pertinent observation about China by the U.S. Secretary of State is omitted from a VOA news report in Chinese and the whole speech is completely ignored by the VOA English newsroom and other VOA services?
For a country without press freedom, references to China using coercion and corruption as its state policy and to the detentions in forced labor camps of over a million of Chinese Muslims were the most important part of Secretary Pompeo’s speech. What the VOA Chinese Service did in ignoring this part of Secretary Pompeo’s speech would be equivalent to VOA censoring out “Mr. Gorbachev, take down this wall” line from President Reagan’s Cold War Berlin speech in 1987. VOA did not censor such remarks by high-level U.S. government officials during the Cold War. Such censorship would have been unthinkable even a few years ago but has become common in the last several years under Obama administration era holdover appointees in senior USAGM and VOA positions. We reported earlier that both VOA and RFE/RL ignored Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) excellent speech last week at the USAGM World Press Freedom Day event. In another example of the dysfunctional state of the agency and its senior leadership, Sen. Cruz’s speech got only about 5 LIVE views on the USAGM Facebook while it was being delivered.
The VOA Chinese Branch staff has been reported to be demoralized after holdover VOA Director Amanda Bennett had ordered the shortening of the VOA Mandarin Service live interview with whistleblower businessman Guo Wengui in April 2017. She later placed five VOA Chinese journalists on forced leave with pay. At least one of the so-called “VOA Mandarin Five” was later fired and another journalist is believed to be still under suspension. One of the suspended editors who was allowed to return to work was given largely non-editorial duties. The journalists strongly deny that they did anything wrong in trying to convince the senior management that the decision to shorten the live interview was misguided.
VOA China Branch journalists who disagreed with the senior management’s decision to cut short the 2017 interview may have seen that being tough on the Chinese Communist Party can be detrimental to their careers under the current leadership of Obama administration era USAGM CEO John Lansing, VOA Director Amanda Bennett and their deputies. After the 2017 Guo Wengui interview incident, Bennett appointed as VOA China Branch chief a journalist who did not speak Chinese and had no prior significant experience in covering China news. Bennett defended her decisions as being necessary to protect high journalistic standards at VOA. She reportedly instructed VOA Chinese Branch journalists that they cannot air serious allegations of corruption against Chinese Communist Party officials without first getting their response, but high-level Chinese officials are not known to ever respond to media inquiries about specific allegations. Chinese Americans have been giving money to defend the suspended and punished VOA Mandarin Service journalists.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appears to be aware of problems with the management of U.S. international media outreach. Earlier this year, he called for a leadership change at the U.S. Agency for Global Media. In his congressional testimony on March 27, 2019, Pompeo said:
SECRETARY POMPEO: “And I would urge to get a CEO of that organization in place so that the BBG will have the right leadership so they can do the traditional mission – perhaps in a different information environment than we did back in the Cold War, but can perform its function in a way that is important and noble, and reflects the enormous resources that are – that American taxpayers have put towards that,” Secretary Pompeo told members of Congress.
“I’m very concerned about it,” Secretary Pompeo added.
Michael Pack, an award-winning film documentarian and former official in the United States Information Agency (USIA), who for many months have been awaiting his Senate confirmation vote to replace John Lansing as USAGM CEO, is a former head of the Claremont Institute where Secretary Pompeo delivered his foreign policy address. Pack reportedly could not attend the event because of personal reasons.
While we did not check every USAGM website and in some cases had to rely on Google Translate (for Farsi), we found no evidence that VOA English News, RFE/RL English News, VOA Russian Service, RFE/RL Russian Service, RFE/RL-VOA “Current Time TV” Russian news website, RFE/RL Radio Farda English website and others had anything on Secretary Pompeo’s speech at the Claremont Institute on May 11.
BBG – USAGM Watch did further checking by contacting an Iranian American journalist who attended the Claremont Institute event at which Secretary Pompeo spoke about U.S. foreign policy, including relations with China, Iran and Russia. We have asked the Farsi-speaking journalist to check VOA and RFE/RL Persian websites.
The Iranian American journalist reported that she had checked VOA and RFE/RL Farsi websites and I couldn’t find anything on Secretary Pompeo’s Claremont speech remarks on Iran neither in Radio Farda nor in VOA Farsi.
The Iranian American journalist told us that she knew that neither VOA nor RFE/RL sent a reporter because she herself attended the Claremont Institute event. She observed that during the Obama administration and Iran nuclear deal, the same VOA/RFE/RL/BBG and now USAGM management used to send 6-8 people to Europe all the time but no one to Los Angeles last week for Secretary Pompeo’s speech.
Secretary Pompeo said in Los Angeles that that Obama administration “struck a terrible agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran that put the regime’s campaigns of terrorism and proxy wars on steroids.”
In the searches we have conducted, the VOA Chinese Service appears to be the only USAGM outlet that has reported on Pompeo’s speech at the Claremont Institute, but it resorted to censorship of the U.S. Secretary of State’s remarks.
As we compared the original transcript of the speech on the State Department website with the VOA Chinese Service report, a key human rights segment of Secretary Pompeo’s adress relating to China was not included in the VOA Chinese Service text.
Here is a longer segment from Secretary Pompeo’s speech which strangely was not reported on by the VOA Chinese Service:
SECRETARY POMPEO: “But we can see now 30 years on, after the end of the Cold War, that the Putin regime slays dissidents in cold blood and invades its neighbors; that the Chinese Communist Party has detained more than one million Chinese Muslims in labor camps, and it uses coercion and corruption as its primary tools of statecraft. And as I’ll talk about here in just a little bit, both countries have foreign policies intent on eroding American power. We can’t blame our leaders for their optimism, but we can blame them for having misjudged those regimes.”
VOA Chinese Report with Unofficial Google Translation
中国时间 2:37 2019年5月15日 星期三
蓬佩奥表示，特朗普政府的自由、开放的印度洋-太平洋战略才是真正的“转向亚洲”(Pivot to Asia)。他说，美国要与志趣相投的国家交往合作，包括澳大利亚、印度、日本和韩国，确保印度洋-太平洋国家能够保护自己的主权不被侵蚀。
UNOFFICIAL GOOGLE TRANSLATION
China time 2:37 Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Pompeo: “US priority” makes American companies no longer forced to hand over technology to China
May 12, 2019
Washington — US Secretary of State Pompeo said in a public speech at the Claremont Institute in California on May 11 that the Trump administration’s actions against China have forced US companies to trade technology for the market. The behavior no longer occurs.
Pompeo made the remarks during a keynote speech at the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Claremont Institute. He said that the Trump administration’s foreign policy reflects Trump’s “America First” principle. Pompeo said: “President Trump believes that it is right for the United States to implement policies that are in our interest and reflect our ideals.”
In the specific elaboration, Pompeo highlighted China. He said that the action taken by President Trump stopped China from stealing US intellectual property rights. “American companies are no longer forced to surrender their technological wealth as a price to do business in China,” he said. One day ago, the United States had just raised the tariff level on Chinese goods worth 200 billion U.S. dollars from 10% to 25%. The United States is engaged in an unprecedented trade war with China. One of the core demands of the United States is to change China’s compulsory technology transfer policy.
Pompeo also said that the Trump administration has strengthened the US military presence in the South China Sea. Over the past two years since Trump took office, the number of “free navigation” by the United States in the South China Sea has far exceeded that of the former President Barack Obama.
Pompeo said that another focus of the US policy toward China is to ensure that the CCP cannot obtain information on billions of Internet users through companies such as Huawei and ZTE. He said: “The Internet must not belong to China tomorrow.” The United States is carrying out a huge public relations campaign, lobbying allies not to use Huawei’s 5G technology.
Pompeo said that the United States also warned countries that selling key infrastructure projects and technology companies to China poses a threat to their national security. The Trump administration has always held a negative stance on the “Belt and Road” initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, accusing China of its large-scale infrastructure projects that have put the country in a “debt trap”.
Pompeo said that the Trump administration’s free and open Indian Ocean-Pacific strategy is the real “Pivot to Asia”. He said that the United States should cooperate with like-minded countries, including Australia, India, Japan and South Korea, to ensure that the Indian Ocean-Pacific countries can protect their sovereignty from erosion.
END OF UNOFFICIAL GOOGLE TRANSLATION
VOA English News shows no coverage of Secretary Pompeo’s May 11, 2019 speech at the Claremont Institute.
RFE/RL English News shows no coverage of Secretary Pompeo’s speech at the Claremont Institute.
RFE/RL Russian Service news site shows no coverage of Secretary Pompeo’s speech at the Claremont Institute.
RFE/RL-VOA “Current Time” Russian TV program news site shows no coverage of Secretary Pompeo’s speech at the Claremont Institute.
VOA Russian Service news website shows no coverage of Secretary Pompeo’s speech at the Claremont Institute.
VOA Chinese shows a report on Secretary Pompeo’s speech but a key China-related human rights segment is not included.
May 11, 2019: Secretary Pompeo delivers keynote remarks at the Claremont Institute’s 40th Anniversary Gala in Beverly Hills, California.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you. Thank you all. People talk about my job being nerve-wracking. There is nothing as nerve-wracking as that much applause before you speak. (Laughter.) And you should know – Ryan, thank you for the kind introduction too – I was on this trip when I heard about this little dustup about the advertisement for this dinner, and it said they wouldn’t let him post because of the offensive material. I’m like, is that me? (Laughter.) But I also know a point – with no advertisement and this crowd, you’d have needed a much bigger room.
So it is wonderful. It is great to be out with a group of people who care about America so deeply. Thank you for having me. (Applause.) I want to thank the Claremont Institute as well. As you said, I just got back on a trip where I had gone to Finland to talk about America’s interests in the Arctic. I made a little detour to Iraq – (laughter) – and then back to London. Makes Southern California weather feel pretty good. (Laughter.)
First of all, I was – you talked about this is home. I grew up at basically Harbor and McFadden. My father still lives in that house. I was there today. (Applause.) Yeah, it was really something. He’s lived in that house since 1961, and today they had the whole little street blocked off with California Highway Patrol and the security team, and the neighbors were all coming out like, “I know that kid.” (Laughter.)
The Bible describes John the Baptist as “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” And I sometimes think about the Claremont Institute that way.
I call Kansas home. It’s where I spent the bulk of my adult life outside of the military. But I had spent my childhood here, of course, when Ronald Reagan was the governor. And I have to tell you, California has changed a little bit since I left. (Laughter.) I’m going to have to come back and help you all get it right. (Cheers and applause.)
It’s so important that you all know, all the people who make Claremont tick, Ryan and the team and all of those who contribute, your work goes way past California. And as Ryan said, there’s been a lot written in the Claremont Review of Books that clarify the aims and undertakings of what we’re trying to do in this administration, and the hundreds of fellows that you’ve educated over the years who are defending the first principles on the front lines. In fact, Ryan mentioned I have a senior advisor, Mary Kissel, and a speechwriter, who is sitting over here to my left. The two of them wrote this tonight, so if you don’t like it, it is on you. (Laughter.)
It also looks like my Leo Strauss quote, Leos Strauss quote, so you’re the only ones that might laugh at that joke, so thank you. (Laughter.)
Look, all kidding aside, your work to preserve the ideals of the American Founding is absolutely what America needs. There is literally, as I travel the world, there is nothing more distinctive about the United States than our politics, and wonderfully so. We are the truly greatest experiment in human freedom that the world has ever seen, and I, as America’s senior diplomat, benefit from that every day. (Applause.)
I want to do a little bit of the history, because the foreign policy of the early republic reflected the attitude of a free nation which has thrown off an imperial power, which, frankly, I just left. (Laughter.) And look, I think there’s three words that characterize that. They would be realism, restraint, and respect, and I’ll talk about each of them just for a moment.
First, realism. The Founders were keen students of human nature and history. They saw that conflict is the normative experience for nations. Hamilton put this Federalist 34. He said, “To judge from the history of mankind, we shall be compelled to conclude that the fiery and destructive passions of war reign in the human breast with much more powerful sway than the mild and [beneficial] sentiments of peace.”
I’ll simplify: The Founders knew peace wasn’t the norm. And in response to this reality, the Founders knew the first duty of the federal government was to provide for the safety of its citizens. Madison said, “[Security] is an avowed and essential object of the American Union.” You all know that.
How about restraint? The Founders sought to protect our interests but avoid adventurism. The Barbary War, fought so soon after independence, was an effort of last resort to protect our vital commercial interests. The Monroe Doctrine – relevant even today – was a message of deterrence, not a license to grab land. “Peace and friendship,” said Jefferson, “with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it. But the temper and folly of our enemies may not leave this in our choice.”
And finally, respect. The Founders had recently cast off the tyranny of an empire. They were not eager to subjugate others. In 1821, John Quincy Adams wrote that America “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” But indeed, quite the opposite: “She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.” And as the first nation of its kind, the world would see America as a model for self-government and liberty. And a special bond would link America to any nation that loved those things.
Let’s contrast the Founders’ ideas to the foreign policy of the late 20th and early 21st century. American leaders had drifted from realism. At the dawn of the post-Cold war era, hopes were high that enfolding the likes of China and Russia into a so-called rules-based international order would hasten their domestic evolution towards democracy. We hoped this order – comprised of institutions and agreed upon by codes of conduct – would temper their actions towards neighbors and to our country.
But we can see now 30 years on, after the end of the Cold War, that the Putin regime slays dissidents in cold blood and invades its neighbors; that the Chinese Communist Party has detained more than one million Chinese Muslims in labor camps, and it uses coercion and corruption as its primary tools of statecraft. And as I’ll talk about here in just a little bit, both countries have foreign policies intent on eroding American power. We can’t blame our leaders for their optimism, but we can blame them for having misjudged those regimes.
America too had become unrestrained, untethered from common sense. The institutions, the institutions we built to defend the free world against the Soviet menace, had drifted from their original mission set. Indeed, some of them had become directly antagonistic to our interests, while we kept silent. We bought into trade agreements that helped hollow out our own middle class. We sacrificed American competitiveness for accolades from the UN and climate activists. And we engaged in conflicts without a clear sense of mission. No more. (Applause.)
And to round out this trio, we had lost sight of respect – not for other nations, but for our own people and for our ideals. We cozied up to Cuba. We struck a terrible agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran that put the regime’s campaigns of terrorism and proxy wars on steroids. And many of our leaders were more eager to delight the Davos crowd than champion the principles that have made us the greatest nation that civilization has ever known. (Applause.)
By the way, the Claremont Institute sadly knows, I could also name a certain tech company that we spoke about earlier that’s forgotten our first principles too. (Applause.)
I am very confident. I am very confident that the Founders would have been perplexed by those moves. We had too much confidence in the international system and not enough confidence in our own nation. And we had too little courage to confront regimes squarely opposed to our interests and to our values. (Applause.)
But I bring you good news. One man said, “Enough.” And in 2016, you all sent him to the White House. (Cheers and applause.) President Trump’s prescription for foreign policy was very simple, right? “America First.” Now, that’s been mocked a bit. The media has spun this phrase as a dog-whistle for racists and xenophobes. But I’ve spent a fair amount of time with President Trump, in fact, virtually every single day these past two years. (Laughter.) Yeah, sometimes so good, sometimes more challenging for all of us, yes. (Laughter.)
But here’s what this really means. It means that like millions and millions of Americans, President Trump loves this country and wants to see it do well in the world – not at the expense of others, but to the benefit of our people, and by extension, the nations that share our values and our strategic goals. It’s really that simple. If there is a natural law of foreign policy, this is it.
And while he wishes every country enjoyed the freedoms we enjoy here, he has no aspiration to use force to spread the American model. You can see it in the administration’s record of its using force. I can prove it to you.
And so – and so importantly − he believes America is exceptional – a place and history apart from normal human experience, the ones that our Founders spoke about. President Trump believes it is right – indeed more than right – for America to unashamedly advance policy that serves our interests and reflects American ideals. (Applause.)
Certainly, our course of action in this administration reflects a gut-level – a gut-level – for love of country. But taking the pursuit of America’s interests up a notch is not just honorable; it’s urgent in this new era of great power competition. (Applause.)
On China, the President has taken action to stop China from stealing our stuff. No longer will American companies be forced to hand over their technological crown jewels as the price of doing business in China. (Applause.) When a deal doesn’t work for the United States, no deal shall be done. (Applause.)
We have bolstered our military presence in the South China Sea, and we’ve put nations on notice around the world that the sale of key infrastructure and technology companies to China threatens their national security. And we’ve strengthened the group, the entity, that screens Chinese and other foreign investments here in the United States. We are also fighting the battle to make sure that the Chinese Communist Party cannot burrow into the data of billions of internet users through companies like Huawei and ZTE. (Applause.) The internet of tomorrow must have buried within it Western values and must not belong to China. (Applause.)
This has been a real pivot to Asia. (Laughter.)
So look, how else are we putting America First? As I – I gave a speech in Brussels. I didn’t get any of this applause. (Laughter.) (Cheers and applause.) I talked – I spoke that day in Brussels about international agreements and institutions in which the United States enters, and I said that for us to continue to participate it must be with our consent and has to serve our interests and ideals. It seemed pretty straightforward. (Laughter.)
Look, consider our stated intent to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty with Russia. I don’t watch much TV, but I have seen the media mandarins swear up and down that America was putting the world closer to nuclear war. But as the 28 NATO Allies unanimously concurred, Russia is in violation of the treaty, putting Vladimir Putin closer to an asymmetric advantage of his nuclear forces. Why would one party honor a deal when the other wouldn’t? It made no sense. (Applause.) We chose to abrogate the treaty but not abrogate defending the American people. (Applause.) I’ll put it another way: Our decision on missiles wasn’t rocket science. (Laughter.) Yeah, that was one of your own wrote that one. (Laughter.)
Look, we’re also working to ensure that the future of international agreements unambiguously advances American interest. Past efforts, agreements that we entered into with North Korea, only produced more North Korean nukes and American diplomatic failure. Our diplomacy with the DPRK is laser-focused on making sure that we never again have to reopen the North Korean nuclear file.
I just this past trip to Hanoi came across a major threshold. I had spent more time with Chairman Kim than even Dennis Rodman. (Laughter and applause.)
But I want you all to know this is serious business. We want to make sure that Americans are safe, and we are determined to get our policy with North Korea and to get our allies, Japan and South Korea, and to convince the Russians and the Chinese that this is in the world’s best interest. And our diplomatic efforts to get the entire world to engage, to see the risk for what it is, and to help us get North Korea to a brighter future, is something that our administration is profoundly proud of. (Applause.)
And finally, putting America First means proudly associating with nations that share our principles and are willing to defend them. It’s true; we had some earlier comments from Washington’s Farewell Address. He warned against permanent alliances, but that same speech praised connections with nations based on “policy, humanity, and interest.”
We have reaffirmed America’s historic alliance with the only free nation in the Middle East: Israel. (Cheers and applause.)
We are banding together with the likeminded nations like Australia, India, Japan, and South Korea to make sure that each Indo-Pacific nation can protect its sovereignty from coercion. It’s part of a greater commitment to a free and open order. You all know this: The distinctive mark of Western Civilization is the belief in the inherent worth of human beings, with the attendant respect for God-authored rights and liberties. Indeed, the Declaration says that “all men are created equal.” And we ought to help nations protect these first things – and human rights as well.
This new pride in taking America’s interests seriously is not just an American phenomenon. Countries all over the world are rediscovering their national identities, and we are supporting them. We’re asking them to do what’s best for their people as well. The wave of electoral surprises has swept from Britain to the United States and all the way to Brazil.
You’ve all heard the famous line, “What’s good for General Motors is good for the United States.” (Laughter.) I actually think the last administration would have said, “What’s good for the world is good for the United States.” Our focus is that, “What’s good for the United States – a foreign policy animated by love of our unique way of life – is good for the world.” (Applause.)
And as I wrap out, I want to talk about why that is.
First, countries who share our same principles find new avenues for collaboration with us. I mentioned before I returned from an Arctic Council Ministerial, a bunch of foreign ministers from eight countries whose nations touch the Arctic’s. I made it clear America is now sharpening its focus in an area of increasing strategic importance. We want to cooperate with likeminded democracies who share our vision of the Arctic, and guard against those who don’t – nations like China and Russia. My task as America’s most senior diplomat of building alliances is hard work, but they are essential for securing the rights the Founders sought to protect.
Second, love of one’s country forces leaders to better honor the will of their own people. President Trump does that every day. (Applause.)
Hamilton had it right. Hamilton had the right idea. He said, “Under every form of government, rulers are only trustees for the happiness and interest of their nation.” If democratic leaders are not responsive to the jolts of patriotism which are sweeping the world, they won’t be leaders for long. Those who understand that nations are the best vehicle for securing the rights of their citizens will have a much longer shelf life. (Applause.)
Third – the third reason why is that I’ve always been a big believer in competition. I didn’t like it when I ran a small business. I wanted my own little monopoly. (Laughter.) But the truth of the matter is we all know that America can compete and win against our adversaries on security and any economic issue. But even more importantly, competition forces the best ideas to rise. And among political ideas, there is none better than the American idea. (Cheers and applause.)
I have the enormous privilege to serve as America’s most senior diplomat, and what I want the world to see – the unsurpassed attractiveness of the American experiment – is something I market every day. I want other nations to take this same path. Our first president desired the same thing. He used words like this. He said, “The applause, the affection, and the adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.”
Look, what I’ve just outlined here is a foreign policy that returns America to old truths. We talk about this inside the State Department all the time. Let’s speak about real facts and real truth. It’s something I know that this institute, the Claremont Institute, has a deep appreciation for. President Trump has helped put the world back on track to a nation-first trajectory, and I am confident that this reawakening will last well beyond this, his presidency. As just one example you should see, look at how both parties now are on guard against the threat that China presents to America – maybe except Joe Biden. (Laughter and applause.) God love him. (Laughter.)
Winston Churchill – a name very near to this, dear to this organization – said, “America is like a giant boiler. Light a fire under it, and there’s no limit to the amount of heat it can generate.” A fire was truly lit back in 2016. Bathed in its light, we have embarked on a foreign policy that takes seriously the Founders’ ideas of individual liberty and constitutional government. And because of it, American exceptionalism – and the American Founding – will remain alive and well in the 21st century.
Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless these United States of America. (Applause.)