Sen. Cotton Suggests Diplomatic Effort Best Chance At Stabilizing Syrian Situation

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 25: Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) enters a Senators Only elevator before attending the Weekly Senate Policy Luncheon on June 25, 2019 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tom Brenner/Getty Images)

(TB&P) — Editor’s note: U.S. Senator Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, serves on the Armed Services and Intelligence committees. He is a frequent and influential voice on international affairs having served stints in Iraq and Afghanistan. Talk Business & Politics editor-in-chief Roby Brock conducted an eight-minute phone interview with Cotton on Thursday (Oct. 17) morning.

Roby Brock: First and foremost, I’m waking up to find out that Rep. Elijah Cummings passed away overnight. You served in the House with him. Do you have any comments on his passing?

Sen. Tom Cotton: I was saddened to see the news about Elijah’s passing. I knew that he had been struggling with health problems. I didn’t know Elijah well because we didn’t serve on a committee together in my two years in the House, but we got to know each other a little bit on the House floor. And although our politics were different, he was always a very cheerful, jovial man who was committed to public service. So my sympathies are extended to his family during a difficult time.

Brock: Let’s talk about Syria, which has been dominating the news this week. Obviously, with your work on foreign affairs and armed forces and your military background, I expect you will have some strong opinions on this. Lindsey Graham has described the U.S. pullout as the “biggest mistake” of Trump’s presidency. The House just yesterday rebuked the President in a joint resolution on a pretty broad bipartisan vote. Do you support the President’s decision to pull out of Syria?

Cotton: Turkish President Erdogan apparently gave President Trump certain assurances two weekends ago. Now it would appear, not surprisingly given his record, that President Erdogan did not uphold those assurances. So the challenge that the President faced, that we only had a couple of dozen troops in the area that Turkey has been planning to conduct these military operations for two or three months, and he obviously did not want those troops to be in harm’s way if Turkey was going to proceed with this operation.

It’s unclear whether President Erdogan would have proceeded had those troops remained there. In retrospect, I would say, we could have maintained at least our control of the skies over Eastern Syria, which if it wouldn’t have stopped Erdogan from moving into Syria at least it would have significantly raised the cost and perhaps deterred what we’ve seen over the last five or six days without putting those American troops potentially in harm’s way.

To read more of this interview, visit our content partner Talk Business & Politics.

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