Tom Cotton’s strength fetish

Ask Trump-supporting Republicans why they stand behind Donald Trump and many reply that they want to end endless wars — in Afghanistan especially, but also throughout the Greater Middle East. That Trump has failed to end any of our wars in his nearly four years in the White House isn’t a problem. Just wait for the second term, they say. That’s when he’ll make good.

Tell it to Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who delivered a cartoonishly hawkish speech at the RNC Thursday night, just a few minutes before President Trump delivered his acceptance speech, positioning him as a White House favorite in the contest to succeed the current president in 2024. Far from advocating ending wars, Cotton delivered a sermon in praise of bellicosity, denouncing every foreign policy achievement of the Obama administration as a dangerous expression of weakness and attributing all of it to Joe Biden, who supposedly slashed defense spending, coddled dictators, and encouraged ISIS to rampage through the Middle East. Most of all, Cotton accused Biden of aiding and abetting China’s rise for 50 years, a policy that has culminated in it “unleash[ing] this plague on the world.”

The speech concluded with a peroration about the dangers of weakness and the necessity of achieving and maintaining peace through raw military power.

A party that fetishizes displays of military strength will not be ending any wars anytime soon, no matter how endless they may be, and no matter how many times that party’s mendacious leader says otherwise. Damon Linker


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