A father whose son was killed in Afghanistan confronted Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas over his hawkish views on war and military conflicts.
During a speech on Friday that addressed foreign policy, Cotton sought out Fred Boenig and inquired about the four lapel pins on his jacket. Koenig explained that his son died during combat in Afghanistan in 2010, and added that he had three other children who were currently serving.
“I have three more kids currently serving and I would consider you probably the biggest hawk in Washington,” Boenig said. “You’d admit that, right?”
“I believe in strength and confidence,” Cotton replied.
“When I hear that term and when I hear you speak, all I hear is somebody knocking at my door again, and I only have one question to ask,” Boenig said. “Can you tell me how long it’s been since the last U.S. military combat zone death? Because that’s really what it’s all about. Can you tell me how long it’s been?”
While Cotton acknowledged that Americans have died this year in Afghanistan, he wasn’t able to be specific in his answer.
“I can’t tell you the exact time frame,” he said.
“It was 58 days ago, and before that it was the longest period and it was 116 days,” Boenig replied. “When do I get to get my kids to come home safe again?"
When Boenig began to press further about combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, Cotton told him that there was “no definite answer because our enemies get a vote in this process.”
“I’m deeply sorrowful for your loss and I greatly honor the service that all of your children have rendered like all of our veterans do,” Cotton continued, “but in the end I think the best way to honor our veterans …"
“Is to have more killed?" Boenig asked.
“Is to win the wars they fought,” Cotton replied quickly.
“It’s very clear what your views are,” Boenig said. “My views are keeping our kids safe, which include my children. Now that you have a child you will understand the difference between going yourself and sending your child is a much greater thing, sir. I just think when you speak of sending our kids again, let's make it worth it, not just to send them to politically help some Halliburton or somebody else to make money.”
Boeing spoke to Politico after the event, saying that he expected the answers he got from Cotton.
“I was a conservative my whole life, but it all changed,” he said.
Watch the full exchange below.
Photo Credit: flickr.com, thinkprogress.org