LITTLE ROCK U.S. Rep.-elect Tom Cotton of Arkansas' 4th District is urging President Barack Obama not to nominate Chuck Hagel for U.S. defense secretary.
In a column that appeared Friday in the Wall Street Journal, Cotton slammed the former Republican senator from Nebraska for a "dismal record on Iraq" that included writing a column in 2006 claiming the United States could neither win nor lose the war and suggesting no more troops should be deployed there.
"Imagine my surprise at the senator’s assertions, having just returned that week from combat in Baghdad as an infantry platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division," Cotton wrote. "My soldiers had fought bravely to stabilize that city, protect innocent civilians and defeat al Qaeda. Those soldiers were proud of their accomplishments.
"No one had told us during our time in Baghdad that we would achieve 'no victory.' Readers might have shared my surprise at Mr. Hagel's words if he had mentioned his earlier vote supporting the war."
Cotton went on to criticize Hagel's proposal to withdraw from Iraq and noted the troop surge he did not support was ultimately a successful operation.
Cotton also slammed Hagel for helping delay emergency funding for the war in 2007, voting to force withdrawal and voting against designating Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization. And he said Hagel seems to be in favor of cutting military spending and withdrawing from Afghanistan sooner than planned.
"This is not the record of a leader who can be counted on to stand by our armed forces," Cotton wrote. "While Mr. Obama has every right to choose his secretary of defense, I urge him not to nominate Mr. Hagel. If he is nominated, I urge the Senate not to confirm him. Our fighting men and women deserve so much better."
Cotton, a Republican, was elected to a first term in November. He succeeds U.S. Rep Mike Ross, who opted not to seek reelection.