While “Mad Dog” Mattis was by no means a “hero,” it is almost a given that his replacement will be far more pro-war and pro-intervention than the outgoing secretary of defense.
by Whitney Webb
Part 2 - The lesser of two very evil evils?
Tom Cotton, in his relatively short time as a senator, has gained a reputation for being extraordinarily hawkish, particularly regarding Iran. A long-time critic of the Iran nuclear deal, Cotton was one of the authors of a controversial letter to Iran during negotiations that was described by the Baltimore Sun as telling Tehran “to prepare for war” because the agreement could be nullified by the subsequent president. Since then, Cotton has repeatedly called for the unilateral bombing of Iran, which he insisted would only take “several days” and would not lead to a wider war.
Cotton is also markedly pro-Israel and received over $700,000 from the Emergency Committee for Israel in 2014 and nearly $1 million from that same group a year later. That same year, during the Israeli invasion of Gaza, Cotton called the Israeli military “the most moral, humanitarian fighting force in the world” despite the numerous war crimes it was committing at the time. A year later, Cotton called on Congress to supply Israel with B-52s and “bunker-buster” bombs to use against Iran.
Regarding the Syrian conflict, Cotton has been a vocal proponent of escalation for years and praised Trump’s decision in April 2017 to bomb Syria as restoring “our credibility in the world.” After Trump again bombed Syria this past April, Cotton released an official statement praising the attack, which read as follows: “The Butcher of Damascus [ostensibly referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad] learned two lessons tonight the hard way: weapons of mass destruction won’t create a military advantage once the United States is done with you and Russia cannot protect its clients from the United States. President Trump ought to sustain the attacks if Assad doesn’t learn these lessons, and Iran’s ayatollahs and Kim Jong Un might want to learn the easy way. We thank our old British and French friends for once again joining us in defending the civilized world.”
Furthermore, Cotton is also hawkish on Russia. Though a vocal critic of “Russiagate,” Cotton has called Russian President Vladimir Putin “a committed adversary of the United States.” He has accused Russia of having: “Meddled in our presidential campaign, violated arms-control treaties with the United States, invaded Ukraine, assassinated political opponents in the United Kingdom, made common cause with Iran in propping up Bashar al-Assad’s outlaw regime in Syria, and cheated not only in the Olympics, but even in the Paralympics.”
In July, Cotton summed up his Russia policy as follows: “The United States should stay on the strategic offensive against Russia by maintaining sanctions, rebuilding our military, modernizing our nuclear forces, expanding missile defenses, sending more weapons to our allies, and producing more oil and gas.”
Cotton also called for the U.S. to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty last April. The Trump administration eventually followed Cotton’s advice and announced it would withdraw from the treaty this past October. However, in December, the administration gave Russia 60 days to return to “compliance” with the treaty, even though Russia is unlikely to make concessions in this area. Many analysts and foreign governments have warned that the U.S.’ unilateral withdrawal from this treaty would result in a revived nuclear arms race between Russia and the United States.
In addition, Cotton has invited controversy in the past for stating that the U.S. should be “proud” of how it treats the “savages” detained in Guantanamo Bay as well as for his claim that “bombing makes us safer.” He also called for the jailing of two New York Times journalists in 2006 for “espionage” for reporting on a classified government program and supports the war in Afghanistan.
Yet, while the possibility of Cotton as a future Secretary of Defense is alarming, perhaps even more alarming is the other name making the rounds as a Mattis replacement, John Keane.