The world is tearing at the seams. Forces of evil and instability are on the march around the globe. But in Washington, President Biden has lacked the strength and focus necessary to protect our homeland and deter our adversaries abroad.
In the Middle East, Hamas massacred more than 1,400 Israelis and 33 Americans. Iran, Hamas’ primary benefactor and the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, continues to finance, provide training for, and authorize attacks against U.S. forces across the region.
In Europe, Russia continues its brutality against Ukraine and is fomenting conflict in the Balkans and Caucasia, further threatening European peace and stability.
Meanwhile, China, the single greatest threat to U.S. national security, is rapidly expanding its military, threatening our allies and partners, and stealing billions in Americans’ intellectual property.
Our homeland is already facing a critical security situation at the southern border. Now, the global security situation is swiftly reaching a tipping point that could draw the United States directly into conflict – a situation that no American wants.
To avoid this nightmare scenario, America needs strong leadership, strategic investments, and a clearly stated set of goals and principles. President Biden has failed on each of these pillars.
The Biden administration’s original sin is its failure to recognize that for America to be a strong nation, we must first be strong at home. COVID exposed brittle supply chains, the challenge from China, and emphasized the need for a renewal of American manufacturing. Rates of violent crime are up across the country. Meanwhile, the southern border is in chaos and deadly drugs like fentanyl took over 100,000 American lives just last year. Prices for groceries, gas, and electricity are too high, our students’ test scores are plummeting, and overregulation is stifling America’s entrepreneurial spirit.
Given this dismal record at home, it’s no wonder why some Americans balk at the billions in aid sent overseas. But rebuilding America and assisting allies and partners should not be a zero-sum game. We can both exert global leadership and put America first. These responsibilities should not be in conflict. To pursue the misguided course of isolationism and end support to allies like Israel, Ukraine, and others, would be yet another sign of weakness at a time when forces of evil like China, Russia, and Iran already smell blood.
Instead, Republicans have an opportunity to right the ship in both domestic and foreign policy. That starts by rekindling the GOP mantle as the party of a strong national defense. In order to do so, we must rebuild the arsenal of democracy and make once in a generation investments in our industrial base.
The way to accomplish this goal is by engaging in a full and honest debate on each conflict before us. It is deeply troubling that this is not how the Biden White House has handled its $106 billion emergency national security funding request. The request intertwined Israel, Ukraine, the Indo-Pacific, and the southern border into one large package, robbing the American people and their representatives of the chance to vote on these issues independently.
When one does evaluate the Biden funding request, the goals are worthy, but the details are flawed.
First and foremost, we must secure our border. Although the Biden package requests funding to hire an additional 1,300 border patrol agents, it also includes dangerous provisions on “expansion of lawful pathways” and “support for eligible arrivals.” This is classic D.C. doublespeak for giving Americans’ hard-earned taxpayer dollars to sanctuary cities to house illegal aliens. This would make the current border crisis that much worse.
Moving abroad, when we provide military aid to other nations, funding should bolster American manufacturing and modernize our military first. This helps create new and higher paying jobs for American workers and allows our leaders the flexibility to maintain peace and security.
There is significant overlap when it comes to the type of weapons that are relevant to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. With the right focus and investment, we can support all three, though it will require tough conversations about tradeoffs until our industrial base can support at scale.
When it comes to Israel, we must stand with one of our closest allies in their time of need by providing immediate support including replenishment of interceptors for their Iron Dome and David’s Sling as well as access to ammunition stockpiles originally placed in Israel just for such occasions.
However, in its current form, the Biden aid for Gaza is effectively a blank check for Hamas. We must never forget that these are the very terrorists who massacred Israeli and American citizens and currently hold innocent citizens of 33 countries, including Americans, hostage. I simply do not believe that we should give a single penny of aid to Gaza until our hostages are home and safe, and Hamas is no longer their de-facto government.
Further aid to Ukraine should come with preconditions for the Biden Administration. No more hesitation or half measures. Level with the American people, articulate a clear strategy for forcing Putin to the negotiating table on terms most favorable to Ukraine, and commit to transparent accountability measures so that the American people can trust that their hard-earned tax dollars are not being wasted.
I understand the concerns of some who have argued that further aid to Ukraine comes at the expense of our ability to arm Taiwan and deter China. There is no doubt that the economic impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would be far outweighed by a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Deterring China is and should be our top priority, and the White House’s package is lacking when it comes to security in the Indo-Pacific.
At the end of the day, it is strength that deters aggression, and weakness that provokes it. China, Russia, and Iran are watching our every move. The world is safer when America leads from a place of strength, both economically as well as militarily.
Decline is a choice and now is the time for choosing. As global threats increase, I choose to support investment in America, and help our allies and partners in ways that make sense for them, but more importantly, for us. That means providing lethal aid to Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan enabled by direct investment in American manufacturing and that will simultaneously result in a more modern U.S. military. That’s the sort of strength, wisdom, and leadership that America needs – and currently lacks.
Republican Ted Budd, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, represents North Carolina in the U.S. Senate.