Monday, May 18, 2015

Christie On Strong Alliances, Defense, Intelligence

Today, New Jersey Governor Christie will make a speech on the importance of national defense, including a strong intelligence community as well as the need to rebuild our alliances and confront our adversaries.
  • Governor Christie will lay out specifics on how a strong U.S defense allows for strong diplomacy.
  • He also will make the case for strong and accurate intelligence.
  • Governor Christie will highlight the critical need for rebuilding our alliances across the globe.
  • This speech is the third in a series of substantive policy speeches Governor Christie has given over the last month. The previous two speeches outlined a comprehensive plan to address the entitlement reform crisis and a five point plan to encourage economic growth.
Here’s what you need to know (along with excerpted remarks):

Governor Christie takes on politicians penchant for throwing around the term American exceptionalism.

“Now, American exceptionalism is something that politicians love to talk about. It’s a punchline in a speech that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy.  But American exceptionalism isn’t a punchline – it’s a set of principles.

“When the world faces its darkest moments, we use our strength and resolve to light a fire. When our allies stand up to fight the darkness, we find a way to stand with them. When a threat appears from over the horizon, our country gets ready – not when that threat arrives on our doorstep or when it’s popular.

“America has never been a member of the league of ordinary nations. We have never ignored the crises in the world around us.  Because throughout history, leaders in both parties have based our foreign policy on these principles - strength, leadership and partnership with the people and nations who share our values. And it’s served the world and us pretty well. That’s what saved the world 70 years ago. That’s what defeated Soviet tyranny. That’s what kept the peace.”

Governor Christie lays out specifics on how a strong U.S defense allows for strong diplomacy.

“We need ground forces that can respond to crises on multiple fronts, without compromising our capacity for deterrence. The Army and Marines should not be reduced below their pre-9/11 strength, and our active duty forces should be at 500,000 Army soldiers and 185,000 Marines.

“Our Navy should have more ships. In this century, to secure our global interests our Navy will be called upon to assume even greater challenges and responsibilities. But even as our maritime needs grow, we’re cutting back and right now are on a budgetary path to 260 ships or less. That’s just wrong. Our Navy bears the greatest burden of our forward-presence missions, and shouldn’t be equipped to do the bare minimum. We should have at least 350 ships – and our Navy should be an armada without equal.

“And we need a larger Air Force. Our Air Force now has the oldest and smallest combat force in its history, and we’re on track to reduce our inventory of bomber, fighter and surveillance forces by 50% over the next 4 years. Well, when it comes to maintaining our air supremacy, winging it won’t do. 

We should modernize the Air Force and build up to 2,500 combat coded aircraft as part of a total force of 6,000 aircraft capable of carrying out all the missions we know our pilots will face in the years ahead. Americans were the first to conquer the skies - let’s not concede them.

“So we need to give our men and women in uniform the resources they need to get the job done – and we owe it to them. That’s why Congress and the President should repeal the 2011 Budget Control Act as soon as humanly possible, get back to regular order in budgeting and restore funding levels to what Secretary Gates proposed in his fiscal 2012 budget – modest increases in defense spending through the end of the decade that will make a massive difference to our troops. It’s the right thing to do – and we should do it now.

“But that’s just the start. We also need to innovate to fight the battles of the future.”

Governor Christie draws on his experience as U.S. Attorney to make the case for strong and accurate intelligence.

“Too often, the loudest voices in the debate about how to keep our country safe are driven by some purist, theoretical vision of how we should manage our intelligence efforts.

“When Edward Snowden revealed our intelligence secrets to the world in 2013, civil liberties extremists seized that moment to advance their own narrow agenda. They want you to think that there’s a government spook listening in every time you pick up the phone or Skype with your grandkids. They want you to think of our intelligence community as the bad guys, straight out of the Bourne Identity or a Hollywood thriller. And they want you to think that if we weakened our capabilities, the rest of the world would love us more.

“Let me be clear - all these fears are baloney. When it comes to fighting terrorism, our government is not the enemy.  And we shouldn’t listen to people like Edward Snowden, a criminal who hurt our country and now enjoys the hospitality of President Putin – while sending us messages about the dangers of authoritarian government. And, frankly, we don’t need advice from Hollywood, the guys who made our intelligence agencies the villains in practically every movie from the last twenty-five years.”

Governor Christie emphasizes the importance of building stronger alliances across the globe.

“We have a lot of work to do.

“With Iran, the President’s eagerness for a deal on their nuclear program has him ready to accept a bad deal. The framework we’ve negotiated here seems pretty flimsy, and I have grave concerns over how we’re going to make the Iranians live up to their end of the bargain and how we can ensure proper, verifiable compliance. So until we get that, we should have the strength to keep our guard up and keep our sanctions up.  The deal as structured will lead to a nuclear Iran and, then, a nuclearized Middle East.  That not only threatens Israel.  It threatens the United States and turns 70 years of nuclear policy on its head.

“Iran has also been pretty busy across the region, and almost everywhere Iran opposes US goals. In Yemen, they’ve launched a proxy war that has devastated our ally and represents a clear and present danger to world. And while Iran has supported Iraq in fighting back against ISIS, their motives are hardly benign, and we know they have a long-term interest in building a power base in Iraq.

“Iran might not have the bomb right now - but their influence is absolutely radioactive to the world. So we need to contain it with our moderate Sunni Arab allies, while at the same time rolling back the shadow of ISIS. We need to do more to organize our allies into a strong coalition on the ground in Yemen, and to train and equip the moderate opposition to Assad in Syria and the tribal elements in Iraq that are a threat to peace. We should develop new tools to blunt Iran’s regional influence, including ways to fight the flow of cash to their puppets: Hezbollah, the Houthis, Syria and Iraqi militants. We should link our sanctions regime to the threat Iran poses to the region, and treat all these threats as connected, which the Obama Administration doesn’t - and come up with a real coherent strategy with our Sunni partners.

“The price of inaction is steadily rising. Just last week we saw the embarrassment of almost all the Gulf leaders, including the Saudi King, pulling out of President Obama’s summit at Camp David. 

Our allies want policies, not photo ops, and we’re not listening to them. And as we fail to confront Iran’s shadowy nuclear program and undisguised quest for regional power, we raise the likelihood of states taking unilateral actions or seeking extreme solutions. If we’re not going to stop Iran getting a nuclear capability, then why would the Saudis or Egyptians or Emiratis choose not to follow? If we don’t have a plan to stop Bashar al-Assad in Syria, or Iraq in Yemen, what’s to stop governments lending support to proxy forces like Al Qaeda and ISIS?

“In August the President announced a campaign to degrade and destroy ISIS. But right now they seem to be getting stronger every day, and we’ve just witnessed “ISIS taking full control of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s largest province. So right now our piecemeal strategy to deal with ISIS doesn’t inspire confidence.

“When allies lose confidence in us, they take matters into their own hands. I think it’s better for America to extend a helping hand – and help manage events.”

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