Pompeo is raising eyebrows for becoming the spokesperson of the Soleimani strike

Mike Pompeo.
(Image credit: Erin Scott/Reuters)

Assuming you're paying attention to the situation concerning Iran and the United States, you've probably seen a lot of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo these last few days.

He held a press conference Tuesday and did the media rounds Sunday, appearing on several news shows to discuss President Trump's decision to kill Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani in an airstrike in Iraq. But some people are wondering where Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is in all this, considering the possibility of war drums beginning to bang has grown.

Indeed, Politico reports Pompeo's role as the spokesperson for the Soleimani strike has raised some eyebrows at the Pentagon. "The worry at the Pentagon is that [Esper] defers to Pompeo," Mark Perry, author of The Pentagon's Wars: The Military's Undeclared War Against American Presidents, told Politico.

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Others in Washington's foreign policy establishment reportedly think Pompeo may even be auditioning to take over as Defense Secretary. But those in Esper's camp dismissed the concerns, noting that Esper is purposefully trying to remain behind-the-scenes and out of politics just like the Defense Department is supposed to do. Making media appearances, one Trump administration official said, is "the exact opposite" of what the Defense Department does. In turn, Pompeo, who is also closer to Trump, has become the front man.

"Isn't this more of a restoration of the way the system is supposed to work?" one former Pentagon official said, referring to Pompeo — the nation's top diplomat — remaining visible and vocal on international relations issues. Read more at Politico.

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Tim O'Donnell

Tim is a staff writer at The Week and has contributed to Bedford and Bowery and The New York Transatlantic. He is a graduate of Occidental College and NYU's journalism school. Tim enjoys writing about baseball, Europe, and extinct megafauna. He lives in New York City.