Event Recap: 70th Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Religious Liberty, Courage, and Leadership

Author: Center for Citizenship & Constitutional Government

On October 13, 2023, Michael Pompeo, the 70th U.S. Secretary of State, delivered the second annual Jeanie Poole O’Shaughnessy Memorial Lecture at the University of Notre Dame.

Titled “Religious Liberty, Courage and the Necessity of Leadership”, Pompeo’s lecture was hosted by Notre Dame’s Center for Citizenship & Constitutional Government and co-sponsored by the Notre Dame International Security Center.

Secretary Pompeo began his talk with a discussion of the recent invasion of Israel by Hamas. He stated that he admired President Biden’s commitment to stand with Israel, noting that the world needs and demands strong American leadership to weather crises such as this.

Secretary Pompeo then transitioned to a discussion of human rights and the work that he performed as Secretary of State to advance human rights across the world. America must continue to be a nation worthy, as George Washington described it, of imitation in regard to its tolerance and its respect for human rights.

It is especially important, according to Secretary Pompeo, that the United States remains strong and remains this beacon of human rights today, as the world confronts advances by authoritarian forces that seek to tear down the principles and institutions upon which our country was founded. Countries like the People's Republic of China lack respect for the work of the individual and the Judeo-Christian values upon which the United States was founded, Secretary Pompeo argued. Such thinking threatens the freedoms that The United States has worked so hard to protect.

During the question-and-answer period, Secretary Pompeo answered questions from the audience that addressed a broad range of topics.

In regard to the evolution of warfare, Secretary Pompeo warned that hostile actors have been waging massive propaganda wars across the globe in wake of recent conflicts. “Indeed, on your very phones, the Russians and the Chinese have massive efforts to convince you of things that simply aren't true or are at least biased in the direction that they would prefer,”, he said. In response to these evolving threats, the United States and its allies must be “faster and nimbler.” Once more, Secretary Pompeo noted, we must not underestimate the importance of American leadership in this field.

When asked his opinion on the state of American military preparedness, Secretary Pompeo responded with an anecdote about his time in the armed forces. “I didn’t pick [my tank gunner] because he was a diversity hire; I picked him because he was a really good tank gunner and I wanted to stay alive!” If the United States military can maintain a system of merit, it will remain the best fighting force in the world, Secretary Pompeo said.

The Secretary was gracious in answering almost every question. Unfortunately, he could not confirm nor deny the existence of extraterrestrial life.

Secretary Pompeo concluded his remarks by urging the audience to remember that the greatness of America stems not only from the men and women who seek federal office, but from those who run for local PTA or school boards, the town halls and city councils, the mayors and superintendents, and so forth. If all Americans do their little part, Secretary Pompeo said, then the Republic will stay strong for the next 250 years.

During his visit, Secretary Pompeo also met privately with the CCCG’s Menard Family Tocqueville Fellows and NDISC’s undergraduate fellows.

Watch the lecture. 

Article contributed by CCCG Writing Fellow Luca Fanucchi.

Originally published by Center for Citizenship & Constitutional Government at constudies.nd.edu on November 03, 2023.