In an interview published on Thursday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) declined to say whether he would have authorized the Iraq invasion given what he knows now and instead defended former President George W. Bush’s decision.
“We should not be ashamed of the war we conducted in Iraq,” he told the Washington Examiner.
“You don’t get to live life in reverse. What a leader has to do is make a decision, at the moment of decision, based on the best information he has. George Bush did that in 2002 and 2003 and he was supported by Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden and John Kerry and every western country’s intelligence agency,” Cotton continued. “There are lessons we can learn from the early days of the Iraq war. One is that we clearly should be more critically analytical about our approach to intelligence assessments.”
Cotton then shifted his attention to President Obama and criticized his decision to withdraw troops from Iraq.
“The indictment of President Obama’s policy is much worse than the purported indictment of President Bush’s policy because everyone questions if we had known then what we know now,” Cotton told the Examiner. “It’s hard to analyze hypotheticals in history; I’m confident that the world is a better place and the world is a safer place with Saddam Hussein removed from power.”
“President Obama knew then what was going to happen, because his military commanders were advising him that they needed a small stay-behind force of 10,000 to 15,000 troops,” he continued. “President Obama, for political reasons, knowing what he knew then, still made the decision to withdraw all our troops from Iraq.”
After former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) struggled last week to answer whether he would have invaded Iraq, numerous Republicans and 2016 hopefuls were prompted to weigh in on the Iraq War. While many were quick to call the Iraq war a mistake, a few prominent Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) used the opportunity to criticize Obama’s foreign policy.