Tags: Russia | tom cotton | russia | vladimir putin | ukraine

Sen. Cotton: Confronting Putin Critical to US Foreign Policy

By    |   Thursday, 19 March 2015 07:22 PM

Two weeks after he began the effort that culminated in 46 of his Republican colleagues in the Senate signing the now-celebrated letter to Iran’s leaders, Sen. Tom Cotton (R.-Ark.) on Wednesday warned that "it is time to confront Vladimir Putin" over Ukraine or serious consequences will follow for the U.S.

At a standing-room-only session at Washington, D.C.'s Hudson Institute, freshman Sen. Cotton, 37, also spelled out an across-the-board agenda for the U.S. in an era many observers of world affairs have dubbed "the Second Cold War."

His agenda was spelled out in the form of discourse with Hudson non-resident scholar and Yale Prof. Walter Russell Mead, who disappointed many in the audience when he announced at the close of the session that there was no time for questions.

Among items ticked off by Cotton for this agenda include a major increase in defense spending, a renewal of American energy production, closer relations with Europe and India, and Americans leaving no question about "upholding her guarantees" to allies.

"America’s commitments have to be ironclad," declared the Razorback State lawmaker.

But what clearly caught the attention of Cotton’s audience was his warning of a "revisionist Russia driven by Vladimir Putin" and his call to action against the Russian strongman.

"Putin clearly sees the West as a paper tiger," he said, noting that Germany "is reluctant to do anything about Ukraine" and that what he called President Barack Obama’s "erasing the red line in Syria" emboldened Putin to move on Crimea a year ago and now on Eastern Ukraine.

The encouragement of and assistance to pro-Moscow separatists, noted Cotton, come at a time that the Russian Army is not what it was during the time of the Soviet Union.

Putin, in Cotton’s words, "has a much weaker hand" but "he’s playing it better."

If Russia stands firm and unchallenged by the West in Ukraine, then the world will soon see, he warned, "little green men [Russian covert operatives] in East Estonia and East Latvia. "

Predicting that the end result of Putin’s ambitions will be either "to stimulate war or [to achieve] the obsolescence of NATO," Cotton concluded that "it’s time to confront Vladimir Putin."

What this means in the short term, he explained, is all-out U.S. support for Ukraine.

"We must help Ukraine become more like Poland and less like Russia," said Cotton, adding that it is now a country with "three revolutions and no [stable] government."

Although Ukraine is "already getting help from the IMF [International Monetary Fund], using soft-power can only be effective if it is backed up by hard-power," he noted.

When Ukraine sought that hard-power, Cotton said that the Obama administration instead "pushed blankets to the front."

A graduate of Harvard Law School and U.S. Army officer and Afghanistan, Cotton was elected to the House in 2012 and, after a single term there, unseated two-term Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor last fall with 57% of the vote. Like Democrat J. William Fulbright — who also served one term in the House before moving to the Senate in 1944 and going on to chair the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Cotton has become increasingly known early in his Senate career as someone with a passion for foreign policy.

Asked by Mead if voters in Arkansas cared about foreign policy issues as much as he did, Cotton recalled that he ran for the Senate last year at a time Putin was eyeing Ukraine, ISIS was beheading Americans, and the Ebola virus was spreading.

Even when it came to Obamacare or immigration, he said, "questions about national security outnumbered all of the questions [about other issues] combined."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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Two weeks after he began the effort that culminated in 46 of his Republican colleagues in the Senate signing the now-celebrated letter to Iran’s leaders, Sen. Tom Cotton (R.-Ark.) on Wednesday warned...
tom cotton, russia, vladimir putin, ukraine
Thursday, 19 March 2015 07:22 PM
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