Four years ago, we were confidently told “Al-Qaeda is on the run.” Seal Team Six successfully eliminated Osama Bin Laden, and President Obama was trumpeting the end of the War in Iraq and the drawdown in Afghanistan.
What a difference four years makes. Our troop presence is growing in Iraq to beat back a new terrorist threat. The Taliban is seizing land in Afghanistan and withdrawals have correctly been halted. Terror has again reached the shores of Europe, and America.
Do you feel safer today?
As President Obama marks the beginning of his last year in office with this week’s State of the Union, he is not able to point to a promising national security legacy. The state of our national security is in decline due to neglect and disinterest by the administration.
Increasingly, Americans are worried and nervous. Chaperones with school groups about to visit Washington DC or Paris contact my office worried about their safety.
Here at home, we lost 14 Americans to terrorism last month in California, at the hands of a couple that hid a bomb factory in their garage. This month, a man with declared allegiance to the Islamic State attempted to assassinate a police officer in Philadelphia.
In Texas and California, the FBI has apprehended refugees, accused of working to join ISIS terrorists. These terror suspects are accused of lying to immigration officials about their existing terror ties, and our government missed these ties in the vetting process. These are facts we cannot simply wish away.
These reasons are why the House of Representatives acted to tighten vulnerabilities in our Visa Waiver Program, and got President Obama to sign it. We also passed legislation to tighten the refugee program by a veto proof margin, and will hold the Senate to their commitment to vote on such legislation.
Looking abroad, America’s retreat leaves the state of our national security unstable and vulnerable. We cannot have a one-sided stand down from the evolving threats of the 21st Century.
Are we safer as more and more terrorists are released from Guantanamo Bay, and some are rejoining Al-Qaeda on the battlefield?
Are we safer with Iran violating treaties to test ballistic missiles?
Are we safer after Secretary of State Clinton’s Russian Reset?
Are we safer with ISIS controlling land greater than the size of Indiana?
As America retreats from leadership around the world, the invisible red lines we leave behind are breeched again and again: Russian invasions, Syrian chemical weapons, Iranian missile tests, Chinese expansionism, and North Korean nuclear tests.
The House of Representatives is voting this week for stronger sanctions on Iran and North Korea in response. We work tirelessly to protect our military from deeper cuts to their readiness, reversing President Obama’s veto of the annual defense bill – legislation that authorizes essential training and equipment to fight.
An underfunded military fails to meet the government’s Constitutional obligation to provide for our common defense. Weakness is never a way to safety. If we don’t lead and take care of our troops, the world is left to the dictators, tyrants, and terrorists. It has been said, “A nation that does not support its army, will support a foreign one.”
We cannot afford to outsource the leadership or strength required to safeguard our national security. Only America can protect and defend America. We, the United States of America, remain the best hope for global stability as well as our own security. Let’s act like it.
Congressman Brad Wenstrup represents Ohio’s 2nd District in the U.S. House of Representatives, and serves on the House Intelligence and Armed Services Committees.