10 Things to Know About the GOP’s ‘Iran Letter’ Sponsor

How much do you know about the political vision of Senator Tom Cotton, who joined 46 of his Republican colleagues by signing an “informative” letter to Iran, saying that a nuclear deal would not last because the next president could reverse it? Here are ten facts about his political beliefs.

Posted on 03/13/15
By Medea Benjamin and Nalini Ramachandran, | Via FPIF
U.S. Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo by  Gage Skidmore, CC license)
U.S. Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Photo by Gage Skidmore, CC license)

Hailing from Arkansas, 37-year-old Senator Cotton boasts the title of being the youngest member of the Senate, but he spouts the same old warmongering rhetoric of 78-year-old Senator John McCain.

 

From Guantanamo to Iran, food stamps to women’s rights, here are 10 reasons why Tom Cotton is a dangerous dude.

 

1. He penned an underhanded letter to the leaders of Iran that sparked the trending hashtag #47Traitors. On March 9th, Cotton and 46 of his Republican colleagues went behind President Obama’s back by signing an “informative” letter to Iran, saying that a nuclear deal would not last because the next president could reverse it.

 

Secretary of State John Kerry, one of the lead negotiators in the talks, called the letter “utterly disgusting” and “irresponsible.” Two dozen editorial boards slammed the letter and over 200,000 people signed a petition asking the senators to be charged for violating the Logan Act, a law which forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments.

 

2. He said the only problem with Guantanamo is that “there are too many empty beds.” Ignoring waterboarding, indefinite detention, forced feeding, and other torturous acts, Tom Cotton insists that the United States should be “proud” of how it treats the “savages” detained in Gitmo. As far as Cotton is concerned, the prisoners “can rot in hell. But as long as they don’t do that, then they can rot in Guantanamo Bay.”

 

This is counter to the position of many other senators and President Obama, who has promised time and time again to close the prison. There are still dozens of men held at Gitmo who have been cleared for release, but that doesn’t seem to bother Senator They-Can-Rot-in-Hell.

 

3. He’s compared international negotiations with Iran to the “appeasement of Nazi Germany.” This accusation is ridiculous. Hassan Rouhani’s Iran is not Adolf Hitler’s Germany. Despite Cotton’s claims that “there are nothing but hardliners in Tehran,” Rouhani is a reformist, someone we need to work with to defeat the Islamic State. And the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran are a far better –– and safer –– approach than pushing Iran to the brink of war with the United States (and Israel). For once, there is actually hope for a peaceful solution, something that certainly was not an option with Nazi Germany.

 

4. He thinks the use of killer drones should be expanded. Killer drones have resulted in thousands of civilian deaths in countries we’re not even at war with, like Pakistan and Yemen, and have led to an expansion of extremist groups. Senator Cotton makes the argument of many other pro-droners: that drone pilots are safer than air pilots, and casualties are reduced.

 

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Drone pilots still suffer the psychological trauma associated with attacks, and the “collateral damage” of drone strikes means that families and children lose their lives along with the targeted terrorists. (Note: only 2 percent of all people killed by drone strikes have been confirmed “high-value” targets.) The last thing we need is the expansion of drone warfare, Tom.

 

5. He claims that “bombing makes us safer.” While in some masochistic, twisted logic that might make sense in the short term, historically speaking U.S. military intervention has led to more extremism –– as with the formation of the Islamic State after the invasion of Iraq –– and turned local populations against the United States. Ultimately, bombing other countries just fosters more hate and anti-American sentiment.

 

Bombing might not make us safer, but it certainly makes Tom Cotton’s friends in the defense industry a whole lot richer. Just 24 hours after his notorious letter to Iran became public, Cotton was the guest of honor at an event hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association, a lobbying and professional group for military contractors.

 

Click here to read the complete article at FPIF.

Medea Benjamin is the co-founder of the peace group CODEPINK and the human rights organization Global Exchange. Nalini Ramachandran is a student at Northeastern University studying International Affairs and Middle East Studies. She’s currently working in the CODEPINK Washington, DC office.

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