U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers the Margaret Thatcher Lecture at the Centre for Policy Studies, with introductions from CPS Chairman Lord Saatchi and UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. The Margaret Thatcher Lecture (2019) discussed the deep and special relationship between the UK and USA.
LORD SAATCHI: Good afternoon, everyone. I’m Maurice Saatchi, and on behalf of the distinguished board of directors of the Center for Policy Studies, the outstanding teams from the CPS, the UK Foreign Office, the U.S. State Department, the U.S. embassy, and Ambassador Johnson, thank you all and welcome.
It was in this very room in Lancaster House that the inaugural CPS Margaret Thatcher Lecture was delivered by Rupert Murdoch, and next month I hope we will welcome you all again to the Guildhall for the Thatcher Conference on Britain and America. It’s my honor today to greet our illustrious Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who will then introduce our guest speaker, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Before we begin, will you join me in congratulating the latest symbol of Anglo-American cooperation, the royal baby? (Applause.) We will build on that Special Relationship today. (Laughter.)
May I give you the backstory for this event? Let’s put it like this: How do you become an icon? That is the question. U.S. President Kennedy knew. If he had left Dallas that fateful day, he would have told us in six words. Reviewing America’s place in the world, he would have said conformity and complacency will not do. He had no interest in the status quo, and neither did Mrs. Thatcher. They shared the conviction that an individual acting alone, or almost single-handed, can make what seems highly improbable in fact happen. For them, the whole point of being an icon – of being alive – is to change the world.
So it was 40 years ago that Margaret Thatcher won the first of her three historic election victories. As leader of the opposition, she had worked out that general elections are an intellectual battle and that the winner is the one with the best arguments. So she founded the CPS to do the job. In the first CPS office, Mrs. Thatcher sat on the floor, wiring the kettle, but as her official biographer explains, she wasn’t wiring the kettle. She was rewiring conservatism.
Henry Kissinger has told us how they first met. Officials in the State Department in Washington told him about her and suggested that when he was next in Britain he should meet her. As the minister for education, she was astonished that the national security advisor for the United States of America would want to see her. Dr. Kissinger describes how after a while he said to her, “So you’ll be moving to the center ground, will you?” Her reply was, “No, I’m not moving to the center ground, I’m moving the center ground to where I’m standing.”
The Iron Lady also agreed with President Kennedy that to win a war you need more than air power or financial power or even manpower. It requires brain power, the mastery of the inside of people’s minds. With President Reagan, Mrs. Thatcher understood the point of moral leadership, something good in the moral sense. They did not think this talk of morality was mumbo jumbo, philosophical claptrap, or pie in the sky. On the contrary, they agreed with our great General Slim, whose statue stands right opposite the gates of 10 Downing Street, that you cannot win a war unless your troops believe they are fighting for a noble object. That is how Mrs. Thatcher and President Reagan brought down the Berlin Wall, and as we know, consigned Soviet communism to the ash heap of history.
However, times change, and now defensive prefixes atone for free-market capitalism: inclusive capitalism, caring capitalism, compassionate capitalism, progressive capitalism, and so on. And now we all look to the Chinese version of state capitalism with bewilderment.
So, dear all, everyone knows the great line of the American Declaration of Independence: “We the people hold these truths to be self-evident.” But less quoted, I think, is the most beautiful last line: “We pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
I would say to you, all my friends, American intellectual self-confidence has been the heartbeat of Western civilization, and I’m sure today we will learn again how America deserved and won that iconic status.
Please, would you welcome the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt to introduce our guest of honor. (Applause.)
FOREIGN SECRETARY HUNT: Thank you, Maurice, and I’m delighted and honored to have this opportunity to introduce Secretary of State Mike Pompeo here in Lancaster House. Your job, Mike, was created in 1790, and you are the 70th Secretary of State. My job was created in 1782 and I am the 64th foreign secretary. (Laughter.) And the first task of the first foreign secretary, Charles James Fox, was to decide whether to recognize the independence of the United States of America. I’m delighted to say that that first foreign secretary was an ardent supporter of the American Revolution. Indeed, Fox was so keen to recognize American independence that his enthusiasm outran the government’s official position and he resigned in protest. (Laughter.) But he got his way in the end.
So there’s no one else in the world who can say this, Mike, but my job created your job. (Laughter.) Welcome to being Secretary of State. (Applause.)
And this shows that the friendship between Britain and America is woven into the very fabric of the offices that you and I hold, and in our meetings today I voiced my pride in the role that Britain and America play in the world. Whether we’re combating Daesh in the Middle East, taking military action to degrade chemical weapon use, exposing cyber attacks, we strive side by side to make the world a safer place. And Mike, you have been at the forefront of this, and I commend your leadership.
When Margaret Thatcher visited President Reagan soon after he was inaugurated in 1981, she said, “Your problems will be our problems, and when you look for friends, we shall be there.” They reshaped the world in the 1980s, accelerating the downfall of communism and helping millions to win their freedom. They had the occasional differences. The invasion of Granada was one, and there’s a famous story that when Margaret Thatcher called President Reagan to complain, during the tongue-lashing that he was getting on the phone, he put his hand on the receiver, held it away, and said to his officials, “Isn’t she wonderful?” (Laughter.)
But in that great tradition, I’m delighted that Mike will address us today on the enduring friendship between our two countries and America’s role as a force for good in the world. Ladies and gentlemen, give a big hand for Secretary Pompeo. (Applause.)
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you. Good afternoon, everyone. Serious matters at hand. I hope we find some joy and some fun as I move through my remarks today. Jeremy, you reminded me I’m the 70th Secretary of State, and I’m mindful that President Trump is number 45, so turnover in my job is a lot higher. (Laughter.) And so I hope I get it right today.
Thanks for the kind introduction. I first met Jeremy – I think it was your first day. We were in Brussels, if I recall. And it brought to mind that – I could see – I knew a little bit about you, and it brought to mind Churchill’s famous quote that Jeremy “has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices” that I so admire. (Laughter.) We are – I hope to live up to your skills and your talents.
It’s great to be back in Britain too. I’ve visited here as a private citizen many times, but it’s another thing altogether to be here representing the United States of America. Thank you to the British people and the British Government for the warm welcome you have given me today. I’m grateful, too, for the incredible privilege to speak here in this amazing room, in this historic space. Thank you so much for giving me this glorious opportunity to speak on behalf of the United States of America. And I want to thank her majesty’s government for sharing this national treasure with all of us today.
I see a handful of members of parliament here today, and others in the audience. Thank you for joining, and I would be remiss if I didn’t say congratulations. You stole my joke. But I do want to say thank you to the duke and duchess of Sussex on the new addition to their family. This was good news on both sides of the Atlantic.
To deliver the Margaret Thatcher lecture is truly humbling for me.
I didn’t invent this, but when I was in private sector in Kansas, I worked diligently on something we called the Kansas Public Policy Institute. It was a small free-market think tank in Kansas and we raised a little money and caused havoc in the capital of Kansas, Topeka, driving our government in Kansas to be smaller and more responsive to the people of Kansas. Her co-founding of this and the little bit of work I was able to do there were in the same vein, and so Lord Saatchi, thank you for your kind remarks today, to Robert Colvile, thank you too for offering me this opportunity.
It’s amazing. You talked about this. This is now the 40th anniversary of her election. I have a son who is 28 who doesn’t always remember these times and would have read about them in the history books, and I see some of you look like you were reading about them in the books too. But those of us who were around know that this Special Relationship is a direct result of some of the most remarkable leadership that Britain has ever had during her time in office.
As she remarked on the 200th anniversary of our diplomatic ties, she said, quote, “There is a union of mind and purpose between our peoples which is remarkable, and which makes our relationship truly special.” “It just is and that is that.” Indeed.
Our two nations are united by a common history and cultural heritage. But even more importantly, we share a set of common values, respect for the rule of law and for property rights, protection of basic freedoms, an unwavering belief in human dignity. These sturdy pillars of our societies form the basis of our mutual success and our independent success. And like anything of value – if you’ll allow a former Army man to say it bluntly – they must be vigilantly protected. They must be worked at.
I mentioned earlier I am from Kansas. It’s a small state, rectangular, right in the center of our country. There was another great American who came from that place: Dwight D. Eisenhower. He was from a little place called Abilene. He told an audience in this very city in June of 1945 – he said, quote, “To preserve his freedom of worship, his equality before the law, his liberty to speak and act as he sees fit…..the Londoner will fight. So will the citizen of Abilene. When we consider these things, then the valley of Thames draws closer to the farms of Kansas and the plains of Texas.” We live in the footsteps of great leaders like this. Our relationship is built upon great leaders who recognize this. How fitting it is for me to be able to recite these words as someone from Kansas on the 74th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.
I’m sure for many of you, like many back in the States, it’s easy to forget just how special the relationship is between our two countries.
We have a robust defense partnership, in truly every sense of the word. Your sailors have berths on American ships. The United Kingdom was spending 2 percent of GDP on defense well before President Trump demanded it of every NATO member. But even the vast sums of money are a pittance compared to the British blood that has been spilled fighting alongside us for decades. For this, the American people are immensely grateful.
There’s our intelligence relationship too as well as our diplomatic partnership. I saw firsthand when I was the director of the United States Central Intelligence Agency every day the incredible value of our British partners: MI-6, MI-5, GCHQ, each of them delivering to keep the American people more safe and secure. In fact, I’m sure they were listening to me on my flight in. (Laughter.) That’ll come back to haunt me. (Laughter.)
As Secretary of State, look, I see it in too – I’ve been doing this now – I’ve been a year and a couple weeks as Secretary of State. I see your diplomats, who are free to enter our headquarters in Washington, D.C. wearing the very same badges that we do. No other country has a privilege that special. Nor can I forget about the massive educational and cultural exchanges, which have blessed both of our peoples over so many years. Indeed, in her younger years, Margaret Thatcher participated in a program that’s still around today. It’s called the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership program. We try to train people around the world about American values. I am confident we learned more from her than she did from us. (Laughter.)
And not the least of all between our two countries is the incredibly important economic relationship that we have. This economic cooperation is a model for the rest of the world to emulate. We’re the world’s largest economy; yours is the fifth-largest. The volume of trade between our two nations is staggering. We collectively set the standards for innovation, for entrepreneurship, and also, importantly, for human striving. Our economies are the envy of the world, and I’ll come back to that.
As I read the history, it is absolutely unmistakable, and one cannot challenge the idea that we have accomplished so much together over these past decades. But there’s an awful lot more to do especially in a world that’s changing as rapidly as the one in which we live in today.
As the Secretary of State, I see a landscape that is far more complex than the one that we faced together in the Cold War. We faced Islamist terrorism as Londoners, and those who live in Manchester know so well. We faced the re-emergence of great power competition in the likes of China and Russia and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
We, too, face the swings and roundabouts of our politics as every democracy does.
And I want you to know, because this is so important, that it is now the actual opposite of the right time to go wobbly, and I’ll come back to that. We must stand together to address the challenges of our time.
We’ve already stood fast together in regard to Russia. After the chemical weapons attack that took place here in Salisbury, along with our other allies, we pushed back, we punished Russia with important sanctions. We wanted the world to know that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by nations like ours who value the rule of law.
You recognize, too, that Russia wants Nord Stream 2 to use energy as leverage over Europe – we shouldn’t allow it to proceed. We must continue our close cooperation in that regard.
I traveled in last night from Baghdad. In the Middle East, the Royal Air Force supported the Syrian Democratic Forces that dismantled the ISIS caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
And in Yemen, the United Kingdom has led the efforts to find a diplomatic solution to this Iranian proxy war. The 770 million pounds in aid that your country has committed to that conflict to help feed starving people in Yemen is remarkable and something you should be incredibly proud of. I made clear in remarks I gave in Cairo, Egypt, now several months back, that resolving Middle East challenges demands a strong network of allies and partners, and I appreciate that the United Kingdom is right out in front.
President Trump has led tough diplomacy towards the final, fully-verified denuclearization of North Korea. You’ve supported this. That mission is important, and the pressure campaign that the world has engaged in must continue. This is an outcome that is imperative for the security of the world. The Royal Navy, too, has deployed to the Pacific to deter illicit ship-to-ship transfers on North Korean fuel that would have undermined those sanctions. We thank you for that. This must continue.
In China, we face a new kind of challenge. It’s an authoritarian regime that’s integrated economically into the West in ways the Soviet Union never was. President Trump is in the midst of trade talks. I hope they’re resolved successfully, but it is important that we get these trade relationships right.
But separately, separately it’s important that we speak honestly about the nature of the Chinese regime. I’ve been talking to other audiences about the more than one million Chinese Muslims detained in camps in Xinjiang. That’s the same province in China that pioneered a credit system in which users trade freedom and privacy for government benefits. And it’s the same province that’s the beginning of the Belt and Road. It’s the future China wants for China and for the world.
Britain has first-hand experience with this challenge. In the cyber-realm, the A.P.T. 10 Group acted on behalf of the Chinese Ministry of State Security to steal intellectual property and sensitive commercial data from Europe and from Asia and from the United States. We appreciate the United Kingdom publicly calling out China for that cyber attack. There will be more and we must be ever vigilant.
Even more in plain sight, China steals intellectual property for military purposes. It wants to dominate AI, space technology, ballistic missiles, and many other areas. China’s growing capacity is matched by its appetite for expansion. I just gave a major speech in the Arctic Council warning against China’s incursions in the Arctic. We can’t let the High North – or any other area – go the way of the South China Sea.
Ask yourself – ask yourself this: Would the Iron Lady be silent when China violates the sovereignty of nations through corruption and coercion? Would she have welcomed the Belt and Road Initiative without demanding absolute transparency and the highest standards? Would she allow China to control the internet of the future?
Look, I know it’s a sensitive topic, but we have to talk about sensitive things as friends. As a matter of Chinese law, the Chinese Government can rightfully demand access to data flowing through Huawei and ZTE systems. Why would anyone grant such power to a regime that has already grossly violated cyberspace? What can her majesty’s government do to make sure sensitive technologies don’t become open doors for Beijing’s spymasters?
This is a discussion that extends far beyond technology and trade, although it’s often couched that way. Insufficient security will impede the United States ability to share certain information with trusted networks.
This is exactly what China wants; they want to divide Western alliances through bits and bytes, not bullets and bombs. We know that 5G is a sovereign decision – we respect every nation’s right to make its own choices – but it must be made in the broader context, the broader strategic context of China’s efforts throughout the world.
And finally, there’s the subject of the Islamic Republic of Iran. There is no daylight between our two countries on the threat emanating from the Iranian regime. We agree that they’re operating in defiance of the UN’s ballistic missile resolution. We agree they fund terror across the Middle East, and across the world. We agree that they take hostages, and repress their own people. I urge the United Kingdom to stand with us to rein in the regime’s bloodletting and lawlessness, not soothe the ayatollahs angry at our decision to pull out of a nuclear deal. If this is about something like commerce, let’s open markets together. I know that we can.
And that brings me to the next point. You are our partner, our best partner in promoting free enterprise.
The world can look at our prosperous trade relationship and see the fruits of democratic capitalism. How’s that for a hyphen before capitalism? (Laughter.) Let’s keep the West’s wellspring of innovation alive.
Again, as often, Mrs. Thatcher’s wisdom applies. She said, quote, “Government should create the right framework of sound money, low taxes, light regulation, and flexible markets – including labor markets – to allow prosperity and employment to grow,” and for nations to prosper. We encourage the United Kingdom to liberate its economy and take advantage of its untapped energy resources as well. Freedom brings wealth, and growth, and human dignity. The energy revolution is one American revolution that the British can actually welcome. Shale exploration has created waves of wealth and jobs in the United States. It could do so here too.
There’s one more big item on the table, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t address it. President Trump is eager for a new free trade agreement that will take our number-one trade relationship to unlimited new heights. And I spoke with both Foreign Secretary Hunt and Prime Minister May about this this morning. We’ve filed all the papers we can at this point, and we are ready to go.
But we can’t make progress on a new agreement until Brexit gets resolved – Godspeed and good luck. (Laughter.) How it turns out is, of course, your sovereign choice, but whatever happens you should know we will honor that decision. Look, our relationship has been amazing and strong before Brexit, and it will be strong after it. Ultimately, when all is settled, you’ll be first in line for a new trade deal, not at the end of the queue.
Finally, I’d like to address the shared values we hold so dear. I’m troubled by the anti-Semitism that’s emerging again in our society, and in yours. We must stop this cancer before it metastasizes even further.
In a free society, a yarmulke should not be a scarlet letter. And hatred of the Jewish State is just as bad. As I said in a speech now several weeks back, anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism.
As I close today, I’ll say simply this: The Special Relationship is the beating heart of the entire free world. President Trump has called it “a bond that is like no other.”
Theresa May was the first foreign leader that was welcomed to the White House. Less than a month from today, he’ll have the privilege to pay a visit here, and gather with other transatlantic allies to commemorate D-Day. We will remember the courage shown by Britons and Americans alike in that fateful hour.
But I also remind you of the diplomatic cooperation that helped win that war, as any good secretary of state would.
In 1941, the new American ambassador, John G. Winant, got off the plane in the dark of night at Bristol Airport. His first words were modest: “There is no place I would rather be at this time than in England.” Those words were conveying his solidarity with your nation right from the get-go. He chose not to live in the official ambassador’s residence – that seems unimaginable, having just left Winchester. (Laughter.) Instead, a modest flat was where he took his residence. He ate the same rations as Londoners. He joined them in the shelters during air raids. Day in and day out, he worked closely with Churchill, helping to coordinate urgent lines of effort.
We all know how that story ended: We won the war. When he and Churchill met for the last time, Churchill described him this way, quote, “He is a friend of Britain, but he is more than a friend of Britain. He’s a friend of justice, of freedom, and of truth.” Nothing has changed, literally nothing. As Secretary of State and a representative of President Trump, I tell the people of the United Kingdom that America will remain a friend to you and a friend of justice, freedom, and truth. Let our nations go forward in that same spirit. Let’s recognize how special this relationship really is. Let’s tend to it; let’s expand it. And as Mrs. Thatcher once toasted President Reagan, let us look forward with confidence to the next 200 years of Anglo-American friendship, to an enduring and confident alliance, and to peace and freedom for today’s and future generations. Thank you, and may God bless you. (Applause.)