‘Peace Through Strength’

Defending freedom and democracy around the world is no easy task. It requires strong leadership, a commitment to investing in our military and an unbreakable alliance among our allies. 

While attending the G-20 summit with other global leaders in Germany this month, President Donald Trump is able to further promote ‘Peace Through Strength,’ a central idea to his America First foreign policy agenda. ‘Peace Through Strength’ is the notion that a strong military presence can preserve peace. It has been used successfully by leaders throughout history, most famously by President Ronald Reagan, who used this approach of deterring aggression to end the Cold War in the 1980s.

In recent years, the drawdown of the U.S. military, largely due to sequestration, has threatened our military strength and global dominance. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), I have been opposed to arbitrary constraints on our defense budget. In not spending enough on defense and neglecting the advances other nations are making, we are putting our nation’s fighting ability and security at risk and weakening global alliances. I am glad to see President Trump and Defense Secretary James Mattis understand the need to wisely invest more in our defense and rebuild our armed forces.

When budget caps and the threat of sequestration went into effect in 2011, we had more than 560,000 active duty soldiers in the U.S. Army. By the end of this year, that number will shrink to approximately 480,000. Our Navy and Air Force are also vastly underequipped. Yet today, threats to our nation continue to increase at an alarming rate. Most recently, North Korea likely was successful in launching an intercontinental ballistic missile potentially capable of reaching U.S. soil. Meanwhile, Iran continues to develop ballistic missiles and support terrorism. In Syria, the ongoing civil war continues to escalate.

Russian aggression has intensified as well. Not only does Russia continue to violate the territorial integrity of Ukraine, after annexing Crimea, they also brazenly engage in cyberattacks against their neighbors as well as the U.S., as exemplified by their efforts during our 2016 election.  As Chairman of the SASC Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, I am deeply troubled by the attempts by our adversaries to use cyber activities to delegitimize our democracy, influence our public discourse and ultimately undermine our national security.  I am pleased that this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, which recently passed SASC unanimously, takes important steps to rebuild our military and helps address the challenges our military leaders have laid out before us.

Prior to attending the G-20 summit in Germany, President Trump made a stop in Poland. During his speech in Warsaw, he declared that “Americans know that a strong alliance of free, sovereign and independent nations is the best defense for our freedoms and for our interests.” The president also renewed America’s pledge to confront and defeat the growing threats to the West through an unbreakable alliance with our allies.  These principles, coupled with rebuilding our armed forces, will allow us to promote ‘Peace Through Strength’ and keep Americans safe.