Sunday, April 9, 2017

Senator Tom Cotton: Consider a Jackass

"Reader, suppose you were an idiot. Then suppose you were a member of Congress. But then I repeat myself."
--Mark Twain

The New York Times today carried a column by Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, which is instructive.  It encapsulates the sort of thinking (if you can use that word to describe what he does) which got President Trump elected, which fuels Rush Limbaugh/Brett O'Keefe and all those who sail with them.

Bear with me...

"After President Bashar al-Assad of Syria once again attacked his own citizens with poison gas, the civilized world recoiled in horror at images of children writhing in pain and suffocating to death. President Trump voiced this justified outrage at a news conference on Wednesday, and the next day he took swift, decisive action against the outlaw Assad regime. But these strikes did more than simply punish Mr. Assad and deter future attacks; they have gone a long way to restoring our badly damaged credibility in the world."

Ain't no Syrian gonna take my wife

+ Wow, there's a lot in here:
1. "Decisive action": We took out 6 crippled MIG fighters which could not be moved because they were damaged and in the shop, after we warned the Syrians of the oncoming attack so they could move the rest of their war planes.  The next day, Assad launched a variety of other air attacks.
2. "Outlaw regime": Well, hardly in Mr. Putin's view
3. "Deter future attacks": See above. One could argue just the opposite. Oh, if that's all you are going to do, I can live with that.
4. "Restoring our badly damaged credibility": Credibility is such a dandy word. Credibility with whom? With the Assad regime? With the Russians? With the Syrians who got barrel bombed the next day? This is one of those I-want-to-believe-so-it-must-be-true things.

5. "In the world": What particular world is Mr. Cotton living in?
I'm so well hung
"It’s hard to overstate just how low the standing of the United States had fallen because of President Barack Obama’s failure to enforce his own “red line” against Mr. Assad’s use of chemical weapons in 2013."

+ Oh, really? Our "standing?" With whom? Translation: I don't like Obama. He was Black and he was born in Kenya.
Of course, when President Obama went to Congress in 2013 to ask for permission to do more, Congress dithered and said NO.

 "I was one of the few Republican members of Congress who supported strikes against Syria then. Because of that, I’ve heard from dozens of world leaders expressing their doubts about the security commitments of the United States."

+ Oh? You are such a hero. You wanted to get us involved in a gun fight in Syria. And because you were such a tough guy, "dozens of world leaders" flocked to your banner, no doubt wishing you were President instead of Mr. Obama, and worried about whether they could trust us to stand up for NATO against Russia because we didn't stand with Syria.

I got credibility

"These doubts originated from surprising places. Of course our longtime Arab allies expressed their misgivings. Yet European and even Asian leaders have privately wondered to me whether the red-line fiasco called into question America’s security alliances in their regions. While far removed from the Middle East, they still depend on the United States and the threat of force to defend our mutual interests."

+ Oh, this is the special, secret, privileged knowledge ploy--what "people" are telling me, which I will now reveal to you about how very shaken our allies like France, Britain and Germany were by our decision to not get sucked into another Middle East quagmire after George W., the gunslinger, was stupid enough to make that mistake once.

"It wasn’t only Mr. Obama’s refusal to act in the moment that undermined our credibility. The fig leaf to justify inaction was an agreement with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to remove Syria’s chemical weapons, which Russia and Syria plainly violated from the outset. Yet Obama administration officials continued to celebrate it as a triumph."

Middle East Tar Baby

+ Ah! We are back to the "it's-Obama's-fault" argument. Mr. Trump launches a transparently cosmetic missile assault on a mostly abandoned air field (having warned the occupants to flee) and now we criticize Mr. Obama for taking ineffectual action?
+ Mr. Cotton, I'll say one thing for you--you've got chutzpah. That's a phrase they might not use in Arkansas: It means you've got the courage of your hypocrisy.

"It’s also worth remembering that Mr. Obama backed down partly because he so badly wanted a nuclear deal with Mr. Assad’s patron, Iran. But his weakness in Syria only emboldened Iran, ultimately producing a worse deal while encouraging Iran’s campaign of imperial aggression in the region, support for terrorism and human rights abuses."

+ What is it about these Southern gunslingers? Now we are into a connection between tolerating gassing and signing a deal with Iran? Well, just look at those dominoes.

After Trump, Moi!

"The world now sees that President Trump does not share his predecessor’s reluctance to use force. And that’s why nations across the world have rallied to our side, while Russia and Iran are among the few to have condemned the attack."

+ Wait, are we really hearing this "fear the turtle" stuff again? Have we not heard this all before? ( Oh, we have to draw that line at Vietnam, or nobody will fear us and the Communists will be emboldened and just run all over us.)
  And what "world" is he talking about?  I've heard people from France to Syria to Israel to China saying they thought the Trump attack was bogus, all show and no consequence and just plain stupid.

"The threat of the use of force — and its actual use when necessary — is an essential foundation for effective diplomacy. Mr. Obama’s lack of credibility is one reason the United States watched in isolation as Russia and Iran took the lead at recent Syrian peace conferences. It’s also why Iran got the better of us in the nuclear negotiations and North Korea has defied us for years."

+ Oh, so now we are off to the "mad man" theory of diplomacy. Well, President Trump might just be crazy enough to launch our nuclear arsenal against Syria and Russia and North Korea all at once, unless you guys roll over.  The Senator is now in the minds of the Russians, the Iranians and the Syrians. 
Tell me, Mr. Cotton, on what planet do you spend the majority of your time?

"With our credibility restored, the United States can get back on offense around the world. In Syria, Mr. Assad knows that we have many more Tomahawk missiles than he has airfields. So do his supporters in Moscow and Tehran."

+ Uh, actually, I'm not sure Mr. Assad, or even Mr. Trump knows that. In fact, those Tomahawk missiles are pretty expensive ($1 million each) and taking out 6 damaged MIGs is hardly cost effective, ($10 million per crippled MIG) not to mention not a credible threat. On the contrary, it may well reassure Mr. Assad how un-serious we are. On the other hand, using up these Tomahawk missiles is good business for Raytheon, which manufactures them and think of all the Raytheon workers who will be back on the assembly lines.  Maybe we can ship in some coal workers to build more missiles.

"Further, leaders in Iran must now question the risks of being put “on notice” earlier this year by President Trump. After all, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and C.I.A. Director Mike Pompeo are noted Iran hawks. If they recommended decisive action in Syria, the ayatollahs have to wonder if they may be next."
Oh, please doan throw me in dat Briar Patch, Mr. Trump! We are jeez quaking in our boots here in Damacus, Tehran, Moscow and everywhere else!

+ Oh, Please, Mr. Trump, Don't throw me in that Briar Patch!

"It’s also telling that the strikes in Syria occurred while President Trump dined with President Xi Jinping of China. The president has repeatedly expressed his concerns about North Korea and stressed that he expects China to restrain Pyongyang. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has stated that the threat of North Korea is “imminent” and “the policy of strategic patience has ended.” Whatever Kim Jong-un may think, it’s safe to say that Mr. Xi finally takes seriously American concerns."

+ Yaasssirreee! Dem Asians got to know we talk tough. And tough talk to Asians, that's just 'bout da same as launching a nuclear strike. We got 'em back on their heels. Dey fears us now, doan you know!

"Finally, Russia’s geopolitical standing has taken a severe blow. Mr. Putin was powerless to protect his client in Damascus. Moscow now faces a Hobson’s choice of empty words of condemnation or escalation on behalf of a global pariah, which risks further American action. After years of Russian aggression being met by empty American words, the roles are reversed: Russia is wrong-footed and Mr. Putin finds his credibility at stake."

Oh, brother Putin is just so damaged! President Trump was so steamed, he gave the Russians advanced notice of the attack and I'm sure that scared the be Jesus out of Mr. Putin. What kind of mad man would do that?  I've heard from so many people, including that lady in the parking lot, how shook Vladimir was by the loss of those 6 broke down MIGs!

"In every theater, President Trump now has the opportunity to press our advantage and protect our interests with strong diplomacy backed by America’s restored credibility. It’s been a long time coming, but friend and foe alike have been reminded that the United States not only possesses unmatched power, but also once again will employ our power to protect our interests, aspirations and allies."

+ Yes, indeed we got a gunslinger now!  You remember that guy in "Dr. Strangelove" who put on his cowboy hat and rode that nuclear bomb out of the bomb-bay doors? That's my hero.

We done showed them Ruskies and we got the whole world taking notice.  I'm just so proud to be an American now, the buttons are popping off my shirt!

I gotta ask:  
1. Is this the best Akansas can do?  I mean, the state of Orval  Faubus was also the state of Bill Clinton and William Fulbright, but has the state IQ sunk so low that this guy really represents what is Arkansas?
2. This warrior was such a leader that after five years in the Army, he advanced all the way from lieutenant to the rank of Captain.  While deployed in Afghanistan he wrote a letter to the New York Times demanding that their reporters be tried for espionage for reporting on an operation in country. He was reminded by his superior officers about something called, "chain of command," but was not rebuked and was awarded a Bronze star for something, maybe for attacking The New York Times. Of note is the fact he went from Arkansas to Harvard and then Harvard Law, which just goes to show that applying to Harvard from Arkansas is like applying to Harvard from Kosovo--they're going to accept you just to see what people from that part of the world are like.

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