The letter by those 47 Senators is getting scorned and abused nationwide. The hashtag #47Traitors has been trending on twitter. Huffpo speculates that it was “treason.” And no wonder, USA Today says the letter has subverted US diplomacy. Slate calls the letter stupid and idiotic. Salt Lake City Tribune says it was felonious:
Chances are that the foolish, dangerous and arguably felonious attempt by the Obama Derangement Caucus of the Senate will soon be forgotten.
The Tribune labels Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton an “uber-hawk.” The letter is sure to define his career, and not in a good way. The Kansas City Star says:
On Tuesday, Tom Cotton, the freshman senator from Arkansas who started the letter, defended it and said he wasn’t a traitor.
The liberal Zionist group J Street says that Cotton was scripted by neoconservative Bill Kristol. Street is reveling in the letter because it is sure to drag the neoconservative rightwing Israel lobby down politically, marginalize the greater-Israel lobby in the far right wing of the Republican Party. Just as the Netanyahu speech has hurt Netanyahu and the Likud wing of the lobby, the Cotton letter is turning out to be an own-goal, scored by the neoconservatives.
The neoconservatives reached out and groomed Tom Cotton when they saw him coming down the pike. The Harvard College and Harvard Law grad spent just one term in the Congress before challenging and defeating Mark Pryor last fall. And he got tons of money then from the Israel lobby.
Neoconservative Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin embraced Cotton back in 2012. She was worried then that with Joe Lieberman leaving the Senate, we were losing national security hawks.
Hawks are nervous that, with the retirement of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and the demands of a fiscal crisis, fewer lawmakers will be interested in and devoted to national security.
It was a genuine embrace. The sixth-generation Arkansan who grew up on a cattle farm read Leo Strauss the neocon icon when he was in college. And the letter to Iranian leaders is not his first outrageous letter. In 2006 he earned notoriety for a letter he wrote to the New York Times from Iraq where he was serving as an officer officer. The letter said that he hoped the Justice Department showed the courage of US soldiers and prosecuted the New York Times and its journalists for disclosing details of the government’s program on stopping the funding of terrorists.
The letter was published on Power Line. It fetishized war:
I apologize for not writing sooner. But I am a lieutenant in the United States Army and I spent the last four days patrolling one of the more dangerous areas in Iraq.
Unfortunately, as I supervised my soldiers late one night, I heard a booming explosion several miles away. I learned a few hours later that a powerful roadside bomb killed one soldier and severely injured another from my 130-man company. I deeply hope that we can find and kill or capture the terrorists responsible for that bomb….
Next time I hear that familiar explosion — or next time I feel it — I will wonder whether we could have stopped that bomb had you not instructed terrorists how to evade our financial surveillance…
I hope that my colleagues at the Department of Justice match the courage of my soldiers here and prosecute you and your newspaper to the fullest extent of the law. By the time we return home, maybe you will be in your rightful place: not at the Pulitzer announcements, but behind bars.
He later told Power Line that war had been in his dreams:
“here I was in Iraq, leading a platoon, going out every day on patrol, as I had dreamed of doing for so long.”
Of course Cotton came home to run for Congress in southwestern Arkansas. By the time he reached D.C., he seemed to love war a little too much. From Jennifer Rubin’s column:
Cotton certainly advocates a strong U.S. presence in the world. He recalled, “What I used to say in the campaign was, ‘You may be tired of war, but war is not tired of you.’ There are evil people in the world who would do evil things.” Because of questions about U.S. resolve, he pointed out, “Certain Middle East countries are hedging and edging closer to Iran.” He said, “It’s important to remind the American people why we’re still engaged, [to] still maintain force projection, stand with Israel … because it is not something they experience firsthand. They experience the economy, but they don’t experience Gaza or Libya or Afghanistan.”
Neoconservative Bret Stephens made the same comment, by the way, in February, quoting Lenin:
“You may not be interested in war but war is interested in you.”
Cotton loves to flash his military experience:
He wryly took issue with the president’s suggestion in the last debate that ships were as outmoded as bayonets and horses. “My first four hours in basic training was in bayonet training. And we’ve used horses in a number of special operations.”
Grooming a young politician is how Bill Kristol and the Israel lobby work. I saw Kristol at AIPAC many years ago talking about how important it is to cultivate rising politicians. He mentioned Dan Quayle, whom Kristol ultimately served as chief of staff when he was vice president.
Bill Kristol said that Hart Hasten, a Holocaust survivor and successful Indianapolis businessman, had been crucial to shaping Dan Quayle’s view of Israel, having “spent a lot of time” with Quayle when he was still a congressman. (Quayle’s office later told me, “The statement Bill Kristol made was not exactly accurate. Mr. Quayle said his broad knowledge of Israel came from many people and sources, not specifically from Mr. Hasten.”) Dan Senor, an analyst on CNN and former AIPAC intern, boasted that AIPAC won over Spencer Abraham when he was the head of the state Republican Party, years before he became a Michigan senator. The party was $500,000 in debt, and an AIPAC leader helped him pay that off.
As we noted yesterday, Kristol’s Emergency Committee for Israel bankrolled the Cotton campaign with $1 million as he went down to the wire against Mark Pryor last fall.
Elliott Abrams and Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam also gave Cotton money. So did rightwing Israel supporter Kenneth Bialkin. So did James Berenson, a board member of the neoconservative Hudson Institute.
Jennifer Rubin praised Cotton’s fire-and-brimstone speech about Iran in January. She was defensive about the Israel lobby allegation:
You see, this is not about simply being a friend to Israel — although a Cotton-type policy would certainly fit that description. This is about whether a leader is ready to defend the West against the jihadist threat — whether it comes from Sunni or Shiite Islamists.
Paul Blumenthal has a good piece up at Huffpo showing how a large portion of the money funding Republican Party nominees is from the same sources who are trying to defeat Obama’s negotiations with Iran– the Israel lobby in short, though Blumenthal does not use that description.
Cotton has received a great deal of support from the donors who fund these and other groups opposing an Iran deal. [Paul] Singer and [Seth] Klarman have given a combined $350,000 to the pro-Cotton super PAC Arkansas Horizon. Singer also gave $2.6 million to American Crossroads, $100,000 to B-PAC and $10,000 to John Bolton Super PAC, all of which spent money to support Cotton’s Senate campaign last year. Klarman has directed $400,000 to American Crossroads. The Emergency Committee for Israel — a nonprofit group, led by the neoconservative Bill Kristol, that opposes an Iran deal — spent nearly $1 million to support Cotton in his election campaign.
These donations are just a fraction of the total spent by these funders. Overall, the combined giving of [Sheldon] Adelson, Klarman, Marcus and Singer accounted for over 10 percent of all pro-Republican independent spending in the past two election cycles.
In some cases, contributions from these donors have been the dominant source of funds for party-linked groups.
Here is the bottom line on all these Iran capers, they have been self-defeating.
Democratic Hawk Brad Sherman: “Brouhaha last week reduced chances of Democratic support for veto override from 40 to 4 percent”
PS Here’s yet another likely-Israel-lobby group, the American Security Initiative, with a video out saying that the Iranians want to nuke an American city.