U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton speaks during a televised debate at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark. on Oct. 14, 2014.
Danny Johnston/AP

Being Tom Cotton means never having to say you’re sorry

A week after  attempting to sabotage American foreign policy and doing real damage to U.S. credibility on the international stage, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) sat down with Bob Schieffer yesterday to explain himself. True to form, the right-wing freshman boasted he has “no regrets at all.”
Of course not. Being Tom Cotton means never having to say you’re sorry for undermining your own country’s attempts at international diplomacy.
At one point, towards the end of the interview, the “Face the Nation” host asked the Arkansas senator about his alternative solution if the talks collapse. Cotton didn’t offer any specifics, but he did express concern about Iranian influence in the region.
“[W]e have to stand up to Iran’s attempts to drive for regional dominance. They already control Tehran. Increasingly, they control Damascus and Beirut and Baghdad, and now Sanaa as well.”
The fact that Iran maintains influence in other countries with Shia majorities in the region is hardly a new development, but the fact that Cotton is concerned about Iranians “already controlling Tehran” seemed like an odd thing to say. Tehran, of course, is the capital of Iran. In effect, the Republican senator was lamenting Iranian dominance of Iran, concerned that Iranians “control” the capital of their own country.
Making matters slightly worse, if Cotton is troubled by Tehran’s influence in Baghdad, he should probably know that Iran’s dominance is the direct result of the U.S. invasion he supported and participated in. In other words, it was the senator’s own preferred foreign policy that created the conditions he now finds so alarming.
Which should probably raise some questions about his judgment now.
In the same interview, the CBS host asked a good question I haven’t seen elsewhere: “Well, senator, are you planning to contact any other of our adversaries around the country? For example, do you plan to check with the North Koreans to make sure that they know that any deal has to be approved by the Congress?”
Cotton largely avoided the question – though he did blame the Clinton administration for the fact that North Korea developed nuclear weapons on George W. Bush’s watch, a development the Bush/Cheney administration did nothing about –  though it struck me as a legitimate area of interest. Cotton and his 46 Senate GOP cohorts apparently seem eager to tell the world that when it comes to Iran, there are effectively two U.S. foreign policies – the official one, embraced by the White House, the State Department, and U.S. diplomats, and a rival one, pushed by American politicians who hope to undermine the White House, the State Department, and U.S. diplomats.
But Schieffer’s point is sound: why stop with Iran? Why shouldn’t Cotton start writing more condescending, legally dubious, error-ridden missives to global capitals everywhere, telling other countries that Republicans don’t want others to trust the United States, either?
Why not declare categorically that, at least for the next couple of years, international observers should no longer expect one United States position on global affairs, but rather, two – one from the President of the United States and one from American elected officials who hold him in contempt?
That’s a recipe for success for a 21st century superpower, right?