Michael Cook: Tom Cotton Playing Foreign Policy Checkers

by Michael Cook ([email protected]) 197 views 

A substantive issue our country is currently debating is the nuclear deal reached between Iran and six of the world’s superpowers. Like many deals between nations, it’s probably not perfect, but it creates a legitimate way for the world to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Senator Tom Cotton is opposed to the Iran deal, which is no surprise considering that just about any time President Barack Obama is for something Cotton must robotically oppose it, regardless of the topic.

It’s also ironic that Tom Cotton opposes the Iran deal considering the fact that Republican icon Ronald Reagan used to sell weapons to Iran.

But Cotton is more than just opposed to the Iran nuclear deal, it appears he wants to forgo diplomacy and just begin bombing Iran.

Here’s what Cotton recently said to Israeli reporters:

“You can destroy facilities. I don’t think any military expert in the United States or elsewhere would say the US military is not capable to setting Iran’s nuclear facilities back to day zero,” Cotton said. “Can we eliminate it forever? No, because any advanced industrialized country can develop nuclear weapons in four to seven years, from zero. But we can set them back to day zero.”

Cotton shared similar sentiments of arguing to bomb Iran back in April on CNN.

Tom Cotton’s instincts appear to be just to drop bombs first and only then attempt diplomacy. More to the point, Cotton believes in playing checkers instead of chess when it comes to foreign affairs.

Cotton’s checkers game-playing philosophy of bombing completely leaves out the crucial part of what are the next moves on the board?

What happens if the U.S. were to bomb a sovereign, albeit kooky, nation? Would Iran just allow the U.S. to bomb their country, or would they find ways to retaliate? Take an educated guess on the next moves on the chess board. We bomb Iran, they retaliate, we then must attack again to show strength and then eventually we’re in another land war in the Middle East.

Cotton argues that bombing Iran would be similar to the 1998 U.S. bombing of potential WMD sites in Iraq. Frankly, that is Cotton comparing apples and oranges when considering the facts of the 1991 war with Iraq, U.S. Security Council resolutions dealing with Iraq, and WMDs along with UN weapons inspectors.

Cotton was excoriated by Senator Chris Murphy from the Senate floor for Cotton’s comments on bombing Iran:

“Senator Cotton said this week that we could bomb Iran back to day zero if we took a military route to divorcing Iran from a nuclear weapon. Let’s get back to reality for a second about what a military strike would mean. You can set back Iran’s nuclear program for a series of years, but you cannot bomb Iran back to day zero unless you are also prepared to assassinate everyone in Iran who has worked on the nuclear program. Why? Because you can’t destruct knowledge. You can’t remove entirely from that country the set of facts that got them within two to three months of a nuclear weapon.”

Even the Bush-Cheney administration believed bombing Iran to strike potential nuclear facilities was a horrible idea. Bush’s former CIA Director Michael Hayden admitted in 2012 that bombing would guarantee Iran would eventually build a nuclear weapon.

When George W. Bush believes bombing a Middle Eastern country is the wrong course of action, you know it’s just gotta be a bad idea.

Republicans argue that the world superpowers should have gotten a better deal with Iraq, but when pressed for details on what their idea of a deal would look like, they only offer up platitudes of a “stronger deal.”

The last time we trusted Republicans on the issue of WMDs in a Middle Eastern country they bumbled us into a needless war with Iraq searching for weapons that didn’t exist.

If Iran reneges on the nuclear deal, then aggressive military action must be considered as the world cannot afford to allow Iran to have nuclear weapons.

However, instead of playing Cotton’s game of checkers, the world would be better off playing chess in dealing with Iran over the issue of nuclear weapons.