For those who believe Donald Trump will put an end to decades of war and interventionism, consider his possible selection as secretary of defense.
Senator Tom Cotton is a senator from Arkansas. He sits on the Armed Services Committee and is a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations. Cotton is considered a “hawk,” in other words, a neocon.
Speaking at the Defense One Summit in Washington Thursday, Cotton said Trump will confront Russia.
“I believe Donald Trump will be viewed, not just by Putin but by other world leaders, as taking a tougher line” against Russia, he said. Russia “has to have a new set of boundaries. They have to recognize that we are going to stand by our alliance structures,” according to the senator.
Although during the campaign Trump said he wants to reduce tension between Russia, the United States, and its allies, Cotton is pushing the hardline against Putin and Russia initiated by Obama and the Democrats (who also accused Russia of meddling in the election and helping to get Trump elected).
“The best way to deter [Russian aggression] is to be ironclad in our support of our allies,” he told The New York Times.
Cotton said Trump would change his mind about Russia after receiving classified briefings. He said the GOP candidate would “have a different perspective on Vladimir Putin and what Russia is doing to America’s interests.” During the campaign, Trump continued the olive branch approach.
If Cotton is selected to run the Pentagon, it will be a victory for the neocons. The senator befriended Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard. Kristol tried without success to run a third party candidate (a former CIA operative) to oppose Trump after the convention and his nomination.
“Kristol saw a kindred spirit in Cotton’s aggressive national-security hawkishness, and the men developed what Kristol describes as ‘a bond beyond pure policy,’” writes Molly Ball of The Atlantic.
Kristol’s Emergency Committee for Israel supported Cotton’s Senate run with a million-dollar contribution in 2014. His Senate bid was also supported by casino magnate and ardent zionist Sheldon Adelson, hedge-fund billionaire Paul Singer, and former Romney foreign policy adviser Dan Senor, a former intern at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Cotton and Kristol were tutored under Leo Strauss scholar Harvey Mansfield, a professor of government at Harvard. Mansfield is an advocate of a “strong executive,” that is to say one out of balance with the separation of powers and the Constitution. Leo Strauss is a neocon demigod.
Both Cotton and Senator Jeff Sessions, who is also being considered for the post, do not support reducing the size of the military or decreasing the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sessions is a “deficit hawk” and, unlike his colleague, does not support increasing the Pentagon budget. Trump called for increased military spending during the campaign.
According to fellow Alabama senator and friend Mo Brooks, Sessions will consider compensating for any increase in the military budget by slashing other federal programs. “We have to offset all reallocation of priorities based on spending cuts from other parts of the federal government that are a lesser priority,” Brooks told The Washington Post.
Donald Trump will select Tom Cotton or Jeff Sessions as secretary of defense and this will allow the neocons to take up their old haunts at the Pentagon.