Tolbert: Pryor Ducks Debating Foreign Policy

by Jason Tolbert ([email protected]) 123 views 

Finally, we have a Senate debate scheduled between Sen. Mark Pryor and Rep. Tom Cotton.  The debate will be October 14th in Fayetteville. Although Cotton wants more debates and to cover more issues, he tells me that he looks forward to the upcoming event.

“I’m looking forward to discussing as many issues as possible. That’s why I proposed a series of five debates across Arkansas – so that we have ample time to address all the issues of importance to Arkansans. Unfortunately, Senator Pryor is insisting on only allowing the voters one opportunity to see the two candidates for Senate face-to-face. That’s because, for the last six years, Senator Pryor has rubber-stamped President Obama’s agenda, and he is apparently not eager to be accountable to voters for that record. On issues like Obamacare, immigration, taxes, a balanced budget, and bailouts, Senator Pryor is simply out-of-touch with Arkansas,” said Cotton.

One topic that is amazingly off the table for the debate is foreign policy. Steve Clark with the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce, sponsor of the debate, described setting the terms for the forum like trying to negotiate a peace summit on KARN’s morning drive show today. But despite the recent developments in the Middle East, Pryor refused to allow foreign policy to be a topic, according to Cotton’s campaign.

“It’s a fact that Senator Pryor specifically refused to include foreign policy as a topic in this debate, which is an insult to the 6,000 active duty military personnel in Arkansas, not to mention the 250,000 veterans who call Arkansas home,” said David Ray, spokesman for the Cotton campaign. “As has long been his habit Senator Pryor has simply stood by and watched as President Obama’s failed leadership has made the world more dangerous and chaotic. Senators are required to cast important votes related to foreign policy, and considering everything that is happening with ISIS, Al-Qaida, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Russia, Ukraine, and Israel, Arkansans deserve to know where their Senators stand. Unfortunately, Senator Pryor doesn’t think voters deserve that information.”

While Pryor is shying away from discussing foreign policy, Cotton was glad to share some insight into his views. Cotton – who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee – was critical of what he perceives as President Obama’s “lead from behind strategy.”

“I learned in the Army that weakness is provocative. If you look like an easy target, you are inviting an attack, but if you are prepared for the fight, you can usually avoid the fight. When the world thinks that we won’t fight back or protect our interests, we make ourselves more susceptible to an attack. Unfortunately, President Obama has employed a ‘lead from behind’ strategy when it comes to America’s foreign policy. The world is already a dangerous place to begin with, but the President only makes it worse by not having a clear strategy to lead. Also, the Army teaches you lessons about leadership and responsibility, especially when the lives of your countrymen are dependent on your decisions. That kind of experience gives you an important perspective, not just on foreign policy, but on a wide range of issues,” said Cotton.

I  also asked Cotton specifically about the situation developing with ISIS and the President’s strategy.

“The Islamic State is a mortal threat to America and Arkansas. President Obama finally acknowledged this threat after months of dismissing them as ‘the JV team.’ Yet President Obama still hasn’t laid out a real strategy to defeat the Islamic State, nor is he committed to victory if he thinks terrorist havens like Yemen and Somalia are models of success. Time will tell if the president appreciates the gravity of the threat and if he finally commits to victory. Meantime, I will continue to advocate for actions to fight and destroy the Islamic State, just as I did when I fought their precursor, al Qaeda in Iraq, as a soldier in Baghdad,” said Cotton.

As most know, Cotton joined the Army in 2005 after finishing Harvard Law School. He was a platoon leader in the 101st Airborne Division in Baghdad. He later returned to combat in Afghanistan as Captain where he earned the Bronze Star Medal.

Perhaps this is why Pryor does not want foreign policy to come up on the stage one-on-one with Cotton.