by Max Brantley
Fred Boenig, whose son died in Afghanistan in 2010, was seated next to Cotton at a foreign policy discussion at Johns Hopkins’ campus in Washington. As Cotton, a veteran of military conflicts in the Middle East, went through his brawny foreign policy views and bashed President Barack Obama’s “dangerous” vision in Iran and other global hotspots, he turned to ask Boenig about the four pins he was wearing.
The Pennsylvania man explained they signify the service of four of his children in the military, then said when Cotton speaks all he hears is “somebody knocking at my door again” with bad news, challenging the senator to identify when the last U.S. military casualty overseas occurred, the same challenge he gave self-proclaimed hawk Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) in February.
Cotton said Americans have died in Afghanistan but couldn’t give the precise answer, which Boenig said was 58 days. He then asked when Americans can truly say war is over in the Middle East.
“There’s 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. But in the end the best way to honor our veterans … ” Cotton responded.
“Is to have more killed?” interrupted Boenig.
“ … Is to win the wars in which they’ve fought,” Cotton finished.
The anti-war Boenig, a radio host in Pennsylvania, was unimpressed and went on to criticize Cotton for attending a defense contractor’s meeting after sending an open letter to Iran’s senior leadership.
“He handled it the way I expected him to handle it. He’s a hawk. I’m a tree-hugging, peace-loving, gay wedding, you know, whatever,” Boenig explained. “I was a conservative my whole life, but it all changed.”