U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today spoke on the Senate floor about the importance of American leadership on the global stage. Thune noted that America must maintain and use its strength and influence to contain evil actors like Iran, Russia, and China in order to advance peace and freedom around the globe.
“Mr. President, we have had no shortage of reminders in the last couple of years that we continue to live in a dangerous world.
“Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression in Ukraine, increased Chinese belligerence, and Hamas’ October 7 attack, enabled by Iran, are all powerful reminders of the fact that there will always be malign actors in this world who must be confronted.
“These events are also a powerful reminder of something else – the need for American leadership on the global stage.
“Nature abhors a vacuum, and if the United States and other free countries don’t lead, other countries will fill the void.
“Countries like Iran.
“I don’t need to tell anyone that all three of these countries have been flexing their power in recent years and seeking to expand their footprint.
“Iran, as Hamas’ recent attack so pointedly reminded us, is supporting terrorist organizations throughout the Middle East:
“Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
“The Houthis in Yemen.
“Shia militias that are attacking U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.
“The list goes on.
“Nor is Iran confining its sphere of activities to Middle Eastern countries.
“Iran has provided Russia with weapons to use in its war on Ukraine, and it is helping Russia to build its own drone manufacturing facility to dramatically increase Russia’s drone supply.
“Russia, of course, is currently providing the world with a clear illustration of its imperial aspirations in its war of aggression in Ukraine.
“And Putin has made it clear that his ambitions don’t end there.
“He is also occupying territory in Georgia and seemingly working on asserting Russian influence in Moldova and the Balkans.
“And as for China … whether it’s increasingly aggressive threats against Taiwan, efforts to expand its military and economic hold over the Indo-Pacific, menacing U.S military aircraft, or sending a spy balloon across the United States in an attempt to gather information on sensitive military sites, China has made it very clear that it is set on expanding its power – and woe to anyone who gets in its way.
“And it is backing up its determination with an aggressive military buildup that has seen the Chinese military outpace the U.S. military in modern capabilities like hypersonic missiles.
“So, Mr. President, it’s abundantly clear that bad actors are flexing their power.
“And, as I said, our response to that must be a renewed commitment to American leadership internationally.
“Now American leadership doesn’t mean attempting to fix every country’s problems or get militarily involved in every conflict around the globe.
“We neither can nor should attempt to become the world’s policeman.
“But that doesn’t mean that we should retreat from the global stage or confine our focus to one or two areas.
“There is a lot we can do while not attempting to play global policeman or solve every conflict.
“In the first place we can and should project the kind of strength that makes bad actors unwilling to tangle with us – or our allies.
“That means first and foremost having a strong military prepared to meet and defeat any threat, backed up by resilient supply chains.
“But it also means things like a strong economy and developing our energy resources so that we don’t have to depend on hostile countries or hostile areas of the world for oil.
“Military and economic strength is a powerful deterrent.
“But it’s not enough.
“We also have to engage on the global stage.
“We need to build and maintain relationships with allies, support free nations, and stand against hostile actions by hostile countries.
“The stronger the bonds of free nations and the more united our response to belligerent countries, the less scope these countries will have for their aggression.
“The world stage is going to be dominated by someone, Mr. President.
“And when free countries abdicate a leadership role, malign actors are likely to end up controlling the playing field.
“Mr. President, some might suggest that the United States should only engage globally when events directly and immediately affect us.
“But unfortunately that thinking often involves underestimating just how much we are affected by world events – even those that are not a direct and immediate attack on U.S. interests.
“Some, for example, would question our continued support for Ukraine.
“Well, Mr. President, I question what will happen if we don’t support Ukraine.
“Withdrawing American support for Ukraine could very well end up with a victorious and newly emboldened Putin on the doorstep of four former Soviet satellite states – now NATO members whom we are bound by treaty to protect.
“If Putin wins in Ukraine, it’s not hard to imagine him viewing incursions into one or more of those former Soviet states as a good idea.
“And given our treaty obligations – and the imperative to prevent a Soviet Union 2.0 – it’s not hard to imagine American troops being drawn into the resulting conflict.
“Supporting Ukrainians’ efforts to defend themselves against Putin’s war of aggression is a way of preventing a conflict that would require a far greater commitment from the United States.
“Not to mention warding off a likely catastrophic economic fallout in Europe from a wider war, which would take a heavy toll on American businesses and consumers.
“Furthermore, there’s little question that a Russian victory in Ukraine would embolden not just Putin but other malign actors – notably China.
“If Russia is successful at taking over part or all of Ukraine, why shouldn’t China think it can successfully take over Taiwan?
“We should be supporting Ukraine – not just because peoples fighting for freedom against tyranny are worthy of support, but because supporting Ukraine, like supporting Taiwan and Israel and other free countries, is in our national interest.
“But, Mr. President, we should support Ukraine with an endgame in mind.
“Saying we’ll back Ukraine “for as long as it takes,” as the president likes to say, is noble.
“But not being intentional about the resources we send risks prolonging this war without advancing toward that end state.
“We can’t expect Ukraine to tread water indefinitely, and I am hopeful that the arrival of M1 Abrams tanks, longer-reaching ATACMS missiles, and (soon) F-16s, while too late to meaningfully contribute to Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive, will enable Ukraine to make new battlefield gains.
“Mr. President, the Senate may soon take up a supplemental spending bill to address defense issues.
“And any such bill should promote security abroad by providing support for our allies – specifically right now Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.
“And after three successive years of record-breaking illegal migration at our southern border, we should make sure that any supplemental also focuses on building up our security here at home by tightening security at our borders, in addition to addressing military priorities like ramping up munitions production.
“Senators Graham, Lankford, and Cotton have produced a substantive plan to help secure the border and stem the historic level of illegal migration under this president’s watch.
“And we should take up their proposal to address this essential aspect of our national security.
“Mr. President, we can’t solve every problem or bring peace to every conflict around the world.
“But the United States can be a powerful force for good, if we’re willing to lead.
“And we should use our strength and influence to contain evil actors and advance peace and freedom around the globe.
“Failing to do so may have consequences for our national security now and long into the future.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”
Source : Jhone Stune