Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., accused one of President Biden’s top Pentagon picks of having a “long record of volatile outbursts” and said he will oppose the nomination during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Thursday.
Colin Kahl, a former Obama adviser, is Biden’s pick for undersecretary of defense for policy.
Cotton accused Kahl of being wrong about Middle East policy for the last four years before questioning some of his social media posts about former President Donald Trump and Republicans.
“When Mideast policy was your job at the Pentagon, you failed to foresee the rise of ISIS, which launched an actual war involving 30,000 Islamic insurgents conquering a quarter of Iraq,” Cotton said. “Dr. Kahl, it seems to me that your judgments about matters of war and peace are almost always wrong.”
Cotton also took issue with some of Kahl’s social media posts, claiming they showed he was not fit to serve in the administration.
“In 2019, in response to a story about Syria, you wrote that the Republican Party has debased itself at the altar of Trump and now is the party of ethnic cleansing,” Cotton said. “The job you seek demands a judicious, even-tempered demeanor. You’ll face disagreements every day in the Pentagon, across the executive branch, with Congress. But your long record of volatile outbursts will have a toxic and detrimental impact on your relationship with Congress.”
Kahl acknowledged he used language that was “sometimes disrespectful” and apologized.
Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for the Middle East Colin Kahl participates in a panel discussion about Iran’s nuclear program on Capitol Hill, February 21, 2012 (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
“There were a number of positions that President Trump took that I strongly opposed. I think the language that I used in opposing those was sometimes disrespectful, and for that, I apologize,” Kahl said. “I understand that the position of the undersecretary of defense for policy, while it’s a political appointment, is not a political job.”
Cotton was not appeased.
“If this is the way you respond to mere policy disagreements when you’re sitting at home reading the news, I do not think that you’re fit to sit in the Pentagon and make decisions about life and death. That’s one reason why I’ll oppose your nomination,” he said.