Regular readers may know I have no fondness for the policies of Senator Tom Cotton (R-Terrible), particularly where foreign policy and criminal justice reform are concerned. To quickly review, Cotton believes
- That the U.S. should pre-emptively invade Iran, topple the mullahs, and ensure “replacement with [a] pro-western regime”
- That the NSA needs to be able to collect bulk metadata on unsuspecting Americans
- That Apple and other tech companies should just cave to the government’s every anti-privacy demand
- That Iraq was a “just and noble war”
- That, concerning pre-emptive military intervention, “George Bush largely did have it right…”
- That America, home of the world’s most disproportionate prison population, has an “under-incarceration problem”
- That police should treat Americans like enemies in a “war zone“
- That it’s ok to outright lie about criminal justice reform efforts, conflating non-violent drug offenders with violent felons
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
In sum, Cotton is a young, Ivy League-educated veteran who is incessantly in favor of war and abuse of our civil liberties. He’s the Republican establishment’s shiny new darling.
He also could be Donald Trump’s running mate, if there’s any truth to this speculation in a new Politico profile on Cotton and his political future:
If Donald Trump loses in November, the veteran of two wars and Harvard Law grad is sure to be the focus of 2020 presidential chatter.
A favorite of the Republican foreign policy establishment, Cotton notably was not among the many critics of Trump within the GOP’s ruling class who dismissed the New Yorker as a faux conservative before he trampled his way to the nomination. In the interview, Cotton wouldn’t rule out serving in a Trump White House, or even as his vice president.
“I don’t have any reason to think that I would” be asked, Cotton says, before allowing that he would entertain “any request for assistance” from a Republican nominee.
Either of those possible outcomes would spell disaster for American foreign policy (as hard as it is to believe it could get any worse than it already is). Were Trump to run with Cotton and win, it’s not hard to imagine he would rely on his VP’s foreign policy judgment thanks to Cotton’s macho tone and military background.
In the meantime, if Trump is considering Cotton as his running mate, he has to stop claiming to be “anti-establishment.” Tom Cotton is as establishment as they come, especially where foreign policy is concerned.
More broadly, Trump’s willingness to question mainstream foreign policy wisdom has been understandably (but ultimately unwisely, I think) welcomed by many non-interventionists. Cotton or not, his VP pick will say a lot about what we can expect from a Trump presidency in matters of war and peace.