The Corner

Tom Cotton: U.S. Fighting ‘Against Radical Islamic Jihad’

Freshman Arkansas congressman Tom Cotton, a rising GOP star and an Iraq War veteran, criticized today the idea that the U.S. is fighting a “war against terror.”

“We’re fighting one war and it’s a war against radical Islamic jihad,” Cotton said at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “It’s not a war against terror alone. Terror is a technique or a tactic . . . It’s a war against specific people, radical Islamic jihadists, who are trying to using terror to defeat the United States.

“Iraq and Afghanistan, as much as we might see those as distinct, are just two battle fronts in that war,” added Cotton, a former Army officer.

The congressman said he was sometimes concerned that Obama thought the United States was involved in a “law-enforcement campaign,” not a war.

Talking about Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s recently captured son-in-law, Cotton fretted, “Did we send him to Guantanamo Bay for interrogation, and ultimately, for a military trial? No. We read him his Miranda rights, and we sent him to federal district courts in New York City. “

“The president, I worry,” Cotton said gravely, “is returning us a law-enforcement construct, the kind that prevailed in the 1990s before the 9/11 attacks.”

While cuts to defense spending have recently gained traction in the GOP, Cotton argued that it was vital to spend on the military.  “We must afford it,” Cotton said of the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. “We certainly have staggering national debt. Our military’s not responsible for that.”

“It’s little surprising,” Cotton remarked,  “that the American people are war-weary when their commander-in-chief is the weariest of them all.”

Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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