Steve Benen writes again about Sen. Tom Cotton’s unilateral assumption of foreign affairs duties for the United States, particularly his recent meeting with Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu.
Much less than this used to send Republicans into conniption fits, Benen notes. But Cotton’s undermining of U.S. foreign policy efforts is now the new normal.
Last year, for example, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) traveled to Guatemala and worked against U.S. foreign policy during the migrant-children crisis. Before that, other GOP lawmakers have traveled to Israel with the intention of undermining U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Cotton himself organized 46 of his Senate Republican colleagues to write a letter to Iranian officials, urging them not to trust the United States during sensitive negotiations.
By this measure, the Arkansas senator’s meeting with Netanyahu seems like par for the course. But therein lies the point: the routinization of these incidents is itself dangerous.
Put aside the debate over the Iran deal and consider this story in more abstract terms. An elected U.S. senator traveled abroad as part of his partnership with a foreign official. Together, they hope to undermine American foreign policy.
In the not-too-distant past, this would have been considered a pretty extraordinary breach of U.S. protocol. Now it’s simply considered Monday.
Towards the end of the Bush/Cheney era, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) traveled to Syria and met with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. She did not, however, go to sabotage American foreign policy – she coordinated with Bush administration officials, and State Department personnel literally joined the meeting.
The difference is that the president is currently a Democrat, not to mention a black Muslim Kenyan.
PS: Bill Kristol, who has a mancrush on Cotton that has him promoting him for higher office as he did Sarah Palin eight years ago, posted a laughable item about how Cotton and Netanyahu are being “discreet” about your meeting. If discretion means plastering it all over the Internet.