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Mike Rogers: 'A Strong America is a Source of Pride and a Force for Good in the World'

2:33 PM, Sep 16, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Unlike China, we have less clarity on Iran’s nuclear capabilities.  But we already face Iran’s malign influence.   They arm Iraqi insurgents who are targeting and killing American troops in Iraq.  They support terror groups, like Hezbollah.  Iran is the leading state sponsor of terror in the world and is a patron of the autocratic regime in Syria.  It contributes to the instability of countries across the region.

Iran’s leaders have clearly expressed their desires to annihilate Israel.  We should take their leaders’ public statements and intents seriously.  They speak volumes about their desires and how they maintain power and position in their own country.  

We must therefore recognize the strategic threat and position that Iran poses.  We must not be resigned to a nuclear Iran.  The debates about how a nuclear Iran would behave would then become real.  Whether it would supply terrorist groups; bomb Israel; become more aggressive in the region. We don’t know and we must not become resigned to a nuclear Iran.

Staying power

America’s strength comes from many sources:  our ideals of freedom and liberty, our economic success, our advanced technology and innovative prowess, and the bravery and training of our armed forces and intelligence professionals.

But maintaining a secure America requires more.  America must be trusted by the rest of the world -- trusted to pursue victory without pause or retreat; trusted to have the stamina to fulfill our commitments; trusted to understand that with unique power comes unique responsibilities.  In Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Libya, and in the rest of the world, our allies and our enemies must know that when America intervenes, we will not cut and run.  We will not leave our allies to face the world’s threats alone.

If we cannot be trusted to have staying power, if our enemies and our friends don’t trust America’s commitment to stay until victory is achieved, our strength is diminished and our defense becomes even harder.

Our enemies must know, without doubt, that when America commits itself, we do NOT commit ourselves to artificial timelines of withdrawal or limits on troop levels.  America commits itself to one thing: achieving lasting victory.  Without that certainty, our enemies have little incentive to avoid provoking a conflict in the first instance.  By making this commitment, we send a clear message—that confronting us will be costly and difficult.  And in the end, we are safer – and the world is safer – if our enemies know that we will not retreat. 

This is why we must maintain our presence in Afghanistan and Iraq until stability is achieved.  And it hasn’t always popular to say, but it’s why we had to sustain our effort in Libya.  People may disagree on whether engaging in Libya was the right option; but once we committed to the mission, America had to get the job done. 

Let me reiterate now: we cannot walk away from Afghanistan.  When the Afghans are ready, we can hand over security responsibilities.  That will allow us to drawdown our forces in a strategic, coordinated fashion.  I fear that President Obama is drawing down our surge forces much too quickly and endangering the progress we have made.  And I fear too few are saying what the future will require: which is even after our troops leave Afghanistan, we must stay involved.  We cannot leave Afghanistan to its own fate again -- we must support their security; it is both a moral responsibility and a necessity to America’s security.

We need leaders who not only understand this reality, but can express it and convince the American public of the rightness of the cause. 

Budget Fights

So this discussion gets us to, of course, our defense and intelligence budgets.  We are experiencing a difficult time in American history.  The economy continues to struggle to recover, and Americans are rightfully demanding that the government get control of the national debt.  But our nation’s defense is only as good as the resources we put forward to the effort.  We must not only equip our men and women on the front lines today, but we must also invest in the technologies and capabilities of tomorrow.  Our nation has invested heavily in our intelligence capabilities since 9/11.  There is no doubt in my mind that we got an outstanding return on that investment. 

Let me be clear -- while budget growth is unlikely in this difficult fiscal environment, we must hold the line against cuts that endanger key capabilities.  Our national defense is not a luxury – and we must avoid the mistakes of the 1990’s when we cut too deep into intelligence and defense budgets.  I will do all I can to ensure that our intelligence community has the resources it needs to perform its necessary mission. 

Conclusion

America remains the best hope for international peace and security in the world.  And it is incumbent upon our country’s leaders to consistently make the case for a strong defense. 

We must also have a sober understanding of what this role requires of us.  September 11th taught us that we cannot expect to pull back from our leadership role every 10 or 20 years – not if we hope to remain safe; not if we hope to remain the most influential country in the world.  We cannot lose sight of the threats the world brings, we must have the will to remain in the fight until victory is achieved.  And we must continue to fund our national security at the levels that match our strategic needs. 

Americans may have lost confidence in some of their leaders.  But they have NOT lost confidence in America.  It is time for those who lead this great country to stand up and ensure our continued economic and military strength.  It is up to us to make the case for what most Americans know:  A strong America is a source of pride and a force for good in the world. 

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