‘No Quarter’: US Senator Tom Cotton Calls for Military Invasion of American Cities

US Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) has called on the US military to be deployed to American cities to suppress the weeklong riots and uprisings against police violence and anti-black racism. His comments follow US President Donald Trump declaring “antifa” is behind the protests and threatening to designate the movement as terrorists.

‘Whatever It Takes to Restore Order’

“Anarchy, rioting, and looting needs to end tonight,” Cotton, the freshman senator from Arkansas, said on Twitter Monday morning. “If local law enforcement is overwhelmed and needs backup, let's see how tough these Antifa terrorists are when they're facing off with the 101st Airborne Division. We need to have zero tolerance for this destruction.”

In a later response to a tweet criticizing his comments, Cotton added, “And, if necessary, the 10th Mountain, 82nd Airborne, 1st Cav, 3rd Infantry - whatever it takes to restore order. No quarter for insurrectionists, anarchists, rioters, and looters.”

Cotton, 43, served as an infantryman in the US Army, fighting in the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and attaining the rank of captain.

Appearing on Fox News on Monday, Cotton carried a similar message, adding that the Department of Justice and federal executive have the power to use the military to restore law and order, “from the Insurrection Act to the Explosives Act to the Riot Act.”

“If local law enforcement is overwhelmed, if local politicians will not do their most basic job to protect our citizens, let’s see how these anarchists respond to the 101st Airborne that is on the other side of the street,” Cotton told Fox.

The White House announced on Monday afternoon it was deploying additional “federal assets” in a bid to curb violence from the ongoing “Black Lives Matter” protests against police violence directed at black Americans, which have entered their seventh day. Prior to the announcement, Trump said after meeting with Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Attorney General William Barr that he wants US streets “dominated” by National Guard and police units.

​Indeed, on Monday afternoon, Trump quote-tweeted Cotton’s post, adding, “100% Correct. Thank you Tom!”

‘The Trump Whisperer’

In November 2017, when Cotton sat seemingly poised to assume leadership of the CIA, The Intercept said he “may be America’s Most Dangerous Senator,” dubbing him “the Trump whisperer” because of his closeness to the president’s ear.

Two years earlier, in March 2015, Cotton joined 45 other Republican senators in an open letter to Iran’s leaders arguing that the nuclear negotiations that eventually became the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) were “nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei.”

“The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time,” the senators wrote.

The front page of the New York Daily News branded Cotton a “traitor,” and retired Major Gen. Paul D. Eaton, who oversaw the training of the new Iraqi army after the US invasion, told the Washington Post he “would use the word mutinous” to describe Cotton’s actions. After Trump took office, he called on Cotton to make the case to him for torpedoing the JCPOA, the subsequent collapse of which has brought the US and Iran close to war several times since 2018.

Designating Antifa a ‘Terrorist Organization’

On Sunday, Trump said on Twitter he would be “designating ANTIFA as a terrorist organization,” referring to the loose network of anti-fascist protesters who have converged at various times to resist white supremacist actions, most famously the “Unite the Right” demonstration by fascists, neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 that resulted in one counter-protester being killed in a car ramming attack by one of the neo-Nazi attendees.

​However, antifa has also been equated by the president and his coterie with anarchist protesters, such as those who protested the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle in November 1999, resulting in the smashing up of many downtown office buildings and banks. With the onset of rioting and the explicitly anti-racist message of the protests after the death of black Minnesota man George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer last week, it didn’t take long before the two movements were seen as one. Although it is certainly true that many people who take part in antifa actions are also probably part of the latest Black Likes Matter protests, it remains to be demonstrated that there is any connection between them and the looting and setting of fires.

Instead, as some commentators have noted, it’s likely the White House is using the specter of “terrorism” to crack down on all variety of leftist groups in a third “Red Scare” like those in the 1920s and 1950s. Trump has previously pledged “the US will never be a socialist country” in response to calls for Medicare for All and denounced critics like Somali-born congresswoman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) as an “America-hating socialist.”

​“To identify criminal organizers and instigators, and to coordinate federal resources with our state and local partners, federal law enforcement is using our existing network of 56 regional FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTF),”  Barr said in a statement on Sunday. “The violence instigated and carried out by Antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly.”

The sticking point, however, is that there is no legal way for either Trump or Barr to make such a designation. Notably, Barr’s comments make no reference to any anti-terrorism legislation, and according to Politico, the US State Department - not Trump - is only empowered to designate foreign organizations as terrorists, not domestic ones. However, the JTTFs being brought to bear do have a nasty record of being used to spy on peaceful groups like Greenpeace, the Catholic Workers Group and the School of the Americas Watch, as the American Civil Liberties Union has documented.

‘Get Tough and Fight’

The day prior, Trump derided Jacob Frey, the mayor of Minneapolis, the epicenter of the nationwide protests, saying he “will never be mistaken for the late, great General Douglas McArthur … Get tough and fight (and arrest the bad ones). STRENGTH!”

Ironically, MacArthur is someone who played a major role in the downfall of Japanese fascism.

While he is widely known for his campaign to retake the US’ Philippine colony from Japanese Empire during World War II, MacArthur was also the military governor of occupied Japan from 1945 to 1951, when he was removed by President Harry Truman for openly criticizing Truman for rejecting his suggestion that nuclear weapons be used on China to end the Korean War stalemate.

​State National Guard units have been activated in 15 states and the city of Washington, DC, and the sight of US troops and armored vehicles in US cities revived discussion of the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the National Guard from performing domestic law enforcement functions when operating under federal authority. However, as Sputnik noted, state deployments are an exception.

By Morgan Artyukhina

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