U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), who was inspired on 9/11 to join the U.S. Army and serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, tells Breitbart News that he does not think we are safer today than we were in 2001 — thanks to relentless terrorists, and to the Obama administration’s policies.
“I don’t think America is safer today than we were in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks,” Cotton says. “It’s hard to hear the Obama administration account for the dangers that are posed by groups like the Islamic State, or the ongoing efforts by Al Qaeda, given [Obama’s] decision to make a nuclear deal with Iran that gave them billions of dollars to fund their reign of terror.
“Just looking at the evidence, it’s hard to conclude that we are safer.”
Despite the fact that both parties’ presidential nominees say the Iraq war was a mistake, Cotton disagrees.
“I believe the Iraq war was a necessary, just and noble war. I don’t think any president would have made any decision other than what George W. Bush had made,” he says.
“It’s perfectly understandable that some Americans disagree, and there were setbacks in the first three years that I wish had not occurred, because without them we would not have seen the war become unpopular to the point where Barack Obama could be elected on an anti-war platform,” he argues.
Cotton adds that he believes the U.S. was safer in “the late days of the Bush administration,” after the Iraq “surge” had worked, and the U.S. was in a position of strength.
At that time, he says, “radical Islam was a discredited and a losing ideology. Today, unfortunately, it looks like the ‘strong horse’ once again, as Osama bin Laden described it in the 1990s. And the United States, and constitutional democracy, look like the ‘weak horse.'”
The new danger, he says, began with decisions taken by the Obama administration in 2009 and actions taken in 2010, not with the war in 2003.
“I think that we can certainly turn it around,” Cotton adds, “but it involves turning around America’s policies.”
At the time of the September 11 attacks, Cotton was a student at Harvard Law School. He was in class when the hijacked planes struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and it was “an era before wifi and text messaging.” He only learned what had happened after he emerged from class to find “dozens of students standing around and crying.”
He decided to join the military after finishing school and fulfilling his commitment to a law firm. In addition to serving with combat forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, Cotton also served with the Old Guard at Arlington National Cemetery.
After completing his service, he was encouraged to run for the House of Representatives, winning a seat in 2012, then running for Senate in 2014. In both cases, he dislodged Democratic incumbents. He has since been discussed as a possible candidate for even higher office, and was mentioned as a possible vice presidential pick this year.
It was a journey that began with his determined response to 9/11.
Cotton says he will spend the 15th anniversary of that fateful day “reflecting on those killed, their families and loved ones — and the days after 9/11, when the country was unified and shared a sense of fellow feeling, and pride, and patriotism, and the belief that while we had taken a tough blow, we would be stronger than ever.”
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.