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Neocon Watch

Sen. Cotton's Shocking Ignorance


It is often incorrectly assumed that elected officials are better informed about current events than are average American citizens. "I don't have access to the kinds of information they have," is what is often heard.  In fact, this is not the case. Members of Congress are in many cases far less informed about current events than are interested Americans. When they do read the newspapers it is usually only the most establishment, superficial publications like the Washington Post or perhaps the Wall Street Journal.

More often than not they rely on their staffers, who in turn rely on the most establishment, superficial publications or word of mouth from other staffers who rely on the most establishment, superficial publications. Most of Washington is an echo chamber, where groupthink prevails uber alles

In other words, far too much weight is given to the pronouncements of Senators and House Members. Most are shockingly ill-informed.

Take the rising star of neoconservatism, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR). By now many Americans are familiar with the letter he sent to his Iranian counterparts warning them that the current US president is an unreliable partner for negotiations: any deal reached would simply be overturned by a future president. The politics of this move are not within the portfolio of this Institute, but the Senator's rationale for sending the letter most certainly is.

Today the Senator was asked what Iran must do in order for an acceptable deal to be struck with the United States, and he responded:

“They can simply disarm their nuclear weapons program and allow complete intrusive inspections.”

Where is he getting his information? Neither the entire US Intelligence Community nor even the Mossad believe that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon or that it has even made a decision to start work on a nuclear weapon. 

How can the Iranians disarm something they have never armed? It smacks of the neocon demand that Saddam Hussein give up the WMDs that we now know he never had.

Likewise, as signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has allowed its nuclear energy program to be under the eyes of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has never ruled Iran to be in violation of the treaty. 

Simply put, the Senator is embarrassingly ill-informed about some of the basic facts.

So where did he get these bizarre ideas about Iran and what drove him to write directly to a foreign government telling them that his own government was unreliable?

Veteran journalist Jim Lobe might have the answer. He writes yesterday in his blog that:
Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton ... as reported by LobeLog, received nearly $1 million in advertising support from Bill Kristol’s Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) in the closing days of last November’s campaign.
A million dollars must go a long way in an Arkansan senatorial campaign. Perhaps this answers the questions of where Sen. Cotton gets his information and why he decided to write the letter to Iran.

Belief that Washington's elites are better informed by virtue of being inside the bubble is most certainly misplaced.
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