Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic recently interviewed Tom Cotton, the junior senator from Arkansas, who he describes as “the future Republican candidate for president.”
And at least when it comes to Israel, Cotton really seems to get it.
Cotton: Ultimately, that would be a question for Israelis and Palestinians, if the Palestinians can get non-terror supporting leaders. The United States over the last eight years has made that harder. For instance, in 2009, demanding a freeze on construction in Judea and Samaria, something that Mahmoud Abbas had never even demanded. As soon as Barack Obama demanded it, Abbas had to demand it because if you’re the Palestinian leader you can’t allow the American President to be more Palestinian than you are.
Goldberg: Do you always refer to them as a Judea and Samaria?
Cotton: I do.
Cotton: That’s why the Jews are called Jews, because they’re from Judea.
Goldberg: I’m not unaware of this fact. I’m asking because the nomenclature signals a political intent.
Cotton: These are the traditional names going back to biblical times. I think this is a reminder that it’s not just some kind of abstract administrative division there. It is a homeland to which the Jews have been attached for many millennia.
Goldberg: You objected strenuously to the decision to abstain in the Security Council vote about settlements.
Cotton: When was the last time a president, after the election, made a major shift in foreign policy, contrary to the wishes of the incoming president?
Goldberg: The opposition to settlement growth has been a bipartisan concern of presidents for a long time.
Cotton: Why did Obama veto a resolution in 2011 that was milder than this resolution?
Goldberg: They suggested, in so many words, that they did this because they feel that their friend Israel is driving drunk and they wanted to take the keys away.
Cotton: If you were to compare the foreign policy record of the last eight years of President Obama, on the one hand, and Prime Minister Netanyahu, on the other, I think I would strongly favor Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has gone from one success to the next, not only in his own neighborhood but in Africa and South Asia, East Asia. It’s hard to think of a time in which Israel was in a stronger position relative to its neighbors in the world than it is after Netanyahu’s tenure. It’s hard to think of a place where the U.S. is in in a better position than we were eight years ago.