Dear Editor:

Someone needs to take Mike Pompeo and Victoria Nuland aside and explain to them that the public isn’t interested in resurrecting the age of the “Ugly American.”

Pompeo, a potential candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, and Nuland, a current member of the Biden Administration, were in the news recently. Pompeo seems to be prepping us for an entirely avoidable war with China.

Nuland is more subversive and sinister than Pompeo. She appeared before Congress where she covered up her part in the Russia-Ukraine War.

Some of your readers may recall the 1958 novel, “The Ugly American.” The setting of the book is different than today’s political arrangement, but many of its Cold War lessons still apply. It describes the incorrigible ineptness of U.S. diplomacy in a fictional Southeast Asian country. More than a decade later, the non-fiction books, “Fire in the Lake” by Frances Fitzgerald and “The Best and the Brightest” by David Halberstam reached similar conclusions regarding our war in Vietnam: Intelligence agencies and the U.S. Diplomatic corps were intellectually unfit for the conflict.

I read “Fire in the Lake” as a student at Florence State. I still view it as one of the best popular descriptions of Vietnamese and Chinese historical cultures available. As a Vietnam War veteran, I didn’t agree with all its political points. However, I hold it as an important book on the failures of the Washington establishment of the time. 

Polls indicate today that if Washington hasn’t learned from its diplomatic failures, the public has. If the neo-conservatives and the war Democrats plunge us into wars with Russia and China, they will do so without the approval of a sizeable number of Americans.

Let’s hope Mike Pompeo redirects his thoughts away from war. Furthermore, let’s hope Victoria Nuland disappears from public life. If Washington elites lack the skill to diplomatically compete in the new multi-polar world, they should step aside.

Thomas Ponder