My friend Chris Preble, the vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, and author of The Power Problem, has written that Senator Tom Cotton’s foreign policy doctrine includes more of the war that has defined the twenty-first century for America. Implementing such a policy though, says Chris, would mean less security for America, and an exodus of young, war-weary, voters from the ranks of the GOP. Chris writes in The National Interest (abridged):
Last month, the Wall Street Journal’s Jason Willick suggested that Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) might be poised to rewrite the Republican Party’s foreign policy agenda. Given that he was once described as “his party’s most aggressive next-generation advocate for military action overseas,” he will likely drive war-weary voters—especially young voters—away from the party. Perhaps for good. In the meantime, rumors swirl that Cotton is in line to become the next CIA director, should Mike Pompeo move to the State Department, so it is important to understand his views.
Put simply, although the average American is skeptical of war, Cotton thrills hawks by arguing for the threat of force—or the use of force if threats fail. He advocates a tougher line toward Russia and China. And he seems generally dismissive of diplomacy and negotiations, especially with respect to Iran.
Tens of millions of Americans who once supported the Iraq War now believe that it was a horrible mistake, and not, as Cotton suggests, because the United States didn’t prosecute it aggressively enough. For Cotton, however, Iraq remains a “necessary, just and noble war.”
Nothing, it appears, can shake Senator Cotton’s confidence in the efficacy of military solutions for all of the world’s problems. The Cotton Doctrine will likely give us more wars, but less security.
Read more from Chris here. For more on The Power Problem and Chris Preble, read my series, The Most Important Person You May Have Never Heard Of here.