National Security

Cotton: Democratic Amendment ‘Would Only Embolden’ Iran

Sen. Tom Cotton (D., Ark.) called out Senate Democrats in a Thursday floor speech for proposing an amendment that would withhold funds allowing executive powers to rapidly respond to Iranian aggression without Congressional approval.

Cotton called the amendment "simple-minded," saying it is an "act of appeasement against the ayatollahs who are currently conducting attacks against the United States and our interests."

Cotton continued to say that the amendment previously did not include a provision that would allow deployed Americans to "defend against an attack." But even this exception, Cotton argued, was not clear enough.

"What does it mean to ‘defend against an attack?' I'm not sure. If an F-15 pilot is shot upon in international airspace, I guess he can deploy countermeasures—chaff—to disrupt the missile. Can he shoot back? Can he shoot back at the Iranian missile battery that shot at him?" he said. "Let's say our troops that are garrisoned in places like Iraq and Syria have incoming mortar fire from an Iranian proxy militia. I guess they can duck and cover in a concrete bunker. I guess that’s a defense. Can they use counter-battery fire to shoot back at that mortar position? I don’t know. Can they? Can they? Beats me."

Cotton added that American troops "need to know when they’re fired upon they can shoot back without any politician in Washington or any lawyer in the Department of Defense looking over their shoulder and second-guessing them."

Cotton warned that the amendment would "embolden" Iranian leadership rather than deescalate the situation.

"This amendment would be a loud and clear message to the ayatollahs that we will not strike back," Cotton said. "That they can escalate even further and there will not be swift reprisal. If there is, it'll generate intense controversy in our country. It will only embolden them further to march up that escalatory ladder and threaten American lives. It’s a hall pass for Iranian escalation, really."