Pompeo Upended Middle East by Pushing Trump to Kill Iranian General

January 18, 2020 in News by RBN Staff

source: www.nytimes.com
By Edward Wong and 

WASHINGTON — Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the loudest voice in the administration pushing President Trump to kill Iran’s most important general. This week, he is back in his role as the nation’s top diplomat, trying to contain the international crisis the general’s death created.

True to form, Mr. Pompeo is not backing down. “You saw, more tactically, just these last few days the president’s response when the Iranians made a bad decision to kill an American,” he told reporters at the State Department on Tuesday, referring to a deadly rocket attack in Iraq on Dec. 27 by an Iran-backed militia. “We hope they won’t make another bad decision just like that one.”

The strike against the Iranian general has affirmed Mr. Pompeo’s position as the second-most powerful official in the Trump administration, behind only the president himself. A hawk brimming with bravado and ambition, Mr. Pompeo is ostensibly the cabinet member who smooths America’s relations with the rest of the world.

But as the man at the center of the argument to launch the drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani — and who pushed Mr. Trump to withdraw from the landmark Iran nuclear deal in 2018 — he is in the unusual role of shaping national security policy that makes his diplomatic job harder.

“Pompeo’s end run got the decision he may have wanted, but the messy day after — sloppy explanations of the threat, disorganized public statements, and hasty diplomatic and military efforts — limited the effectiveness of the policy and made it far riskier for the country and president,” said John Gans, a former chief speechwriter at the Pentagon and author of a new book on the National Security Council, which includes Mr. Pompeo.