“We seem to have forgotten that our primary objective in the war on terror is to capture or kill bin Laden and his henchmen. ”
A defense policy designed to keep Americans safe should start with the idea that we must secure our borders from those who would cross them to do us harm. Currently, the United States maintains hundreds of thousands of troops in more than 100 foreign countries. In many cases, they are there to defend foreign borders. Maintaining such a global empire drains nearly one trillion dollars from the U.S. economy each year, while offering very little real security for the American people. What’s worse, our U.S. Border Guards are sent overseas to places like Iraq while our own borders remain porous and vulnerable.
According to the 9/11 Commission Report, the terrorists who attacked the U.S. on September 11, 2001, had obtained some 24 visas to enter the United States under false pretenses or with incomplete or misleading applications. All these should have been caught and refused. The fact that this did not happen is another indictment on our inadequate border security system.
I believe that as a nation, we should:
- Make securing our borders against a possible terrorist threat the top defense priority. No one who seeks to do us harm should be allowed to cross the border into U.S. territory. After all, a defense policy should benefit those who actually pay for it: the American people.
- Re-focus the efforts of our military and intelligence services on locating those individuals who planned the terrorist attacks on the U.S. and who remain at large. It must be made clear that the United States cannot be attacked with impunity. When I voted for the authorization to use force against those who attacked us in 2001, I did not imagine that we would be getting bogged down for years in a nation-building exercise in Afghanistan while the perpetrators remain at large. Efforts in that part of the world should be exclusively focused on apprehending those responsible for the attacks against the United States.
- Push for a complete overhaul of U.S. intelligence requirements and capabilities. For far too long, Congress has operated under the assumption that simply spending more on the intelligence community would make it more effective and efficient. We have unfortunately learned the hard way that this is not a wise approach. I have consulted with numerous current and former intelligence professionals about the need to re-assess our intelligence community and how it should function, and I will continue to seek to implement action and reforms.
I have introduced several pieces of legislation designed to strengthen our capability to find the 9/11 perpetrators and protect our nation against future attacks:
- H.R. 3216 would authorize the president to issue letters of marque and reprisal, naming private sources who can capture or kill our enemies. This method works in conjunction with our military efforts, creating an incentive for people on the ground close to bin Laden to kill or capture him and his associates. Letters of marque are especially suited to fight against individuals who can melt into the civilian population or hide in remote areas.
- H.R. 3305 would allow pilots and specially assigned law enforcement personnel to carry firearms in order to protect airline passengers. Pilots must have the choice to carry weapons as a last line of defense against future hijacking attempts.
- H.R. 3217 would prohibit the issuance of student, training, vocational, and diversity visas without presidential review to anyone from a country that repeatedly supports terrorism or does not cooperate fully with U.S. antiterrorism efforts.
Keeping America safe and secure is about more than the size of the defense budget or the number of U.S. military personnel. An America-first defense policy understands the need to rationally assess the threats that do exist to the United States and then figure out what we can do to minimize those threats. We must be willing to ask and answer the hard questions. Has our foreign policy of interventionism overseas increased or decreased the threats to our security? When we interfere in a foreign election or foment unrest abroad, are the people more or less likely to harbor ill-feelings toward the United States and the American people?
We must move beyond the assertions of some that ”they hate us because we are prosperous and free” and earnestly attempt to understand what it is that motivates others to wish us harm and then to act upon those wishes. We must understand that many of the threats to the United States from overseas come from non-state actors rather than states. I have consulted and will continue to consult defense experts who are well-versed in such important topics as fourth generation warfare and how the U.S. can respond to emerging trends and threats.
A defense policy for the United States should first seek to make Americans safer. A foreign policy of non-interventionism overseas will be the first step in reducing threats to the U.S. My policy will enable us to focus our resources where they belong: in defense of the United States and the American people. An America-first defense policy will not go abroad seeking monsters to slay, but will deter through strength and lead by example.