The best insurance against aggression is a strong national defense.
In the midst of World War II, General George Catlett Marshall -- the only United States Army General to receive the Nobel Peace Prizel -- defined this insurance for the ages: "We are determined that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle, our Flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand and of overwhelming force on the other."
General Marshall's statement should never be forgotten -- by our allies, by our foes, nor by any of us who lives under the American Flag.
We have entered an age in which enemies and threats are being redefined. Conventional warfare, waged between nations on fields of battle with troops, artillery, ships, and planes, is no longer the norm. In recent times, war has been characterized by conflicts against insurgents and terrorists in urban environments or on treacherous terrain among native populations--native populations whose cooperation is vital to the success of our armed forces. The threats against us include both organized nuclear arsenals and secretly trafficked nuclear materials and weapons harbored within rogue states and among non-state actors. We are increasingly vulnerable in cyberspace as well. Attacks on our computer networks pose a risk of paralysis and disruption of our national life that rivals the danger of a material assault.
The military power and intelligence apparatus required to overcome terrorists, insurgents, and hostile forces, and to prevent attacks before they occur, requires well-funded, well-trained armed forces and CIA, using the finest equipment and most advanced technology available.
History shows the dire consequences of reducing our intelligence capabilities or capacity to strike. The limitations placed on our intelligence apparatus in the 1970s can be directly related to the devastation that Al Qaeda wreaked on Americans abroad and at home in the 1990s and on September 11, 2001. We cannot afford ever again to put our civilian population or our fighting men and women at risk by weakening our surveillance and intelligence-gathering activities.
It's unconscionable that Speaker Pelosi has declared war on the CIA -- the CIA that foiled the plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge; that helped to reveal the plan to blow up seven airliners over the Atlantic Ocean; that stopped a terrorist attack at the U.S. Bank Tower in Los Angeles. We cannot, and I will not, countenance politically motivated hostility against one of our most potent defenses against lethal harm.
It is imperative that we have a fully functional intelligence-gathering operation in possession of all the tools needed to stop terrorist attacks on Americans, on our soil or anywhere in the world, and to assist our fighting forces in foreign lands. Using intelligence to anticipate and neutralize threats, and to understand the native populations in which those threats are harbored, can minimize the risk to our personnel and the cost of materiel.
President Obama has been asked by no fewer than seven former CIA directors to stop Attorney General Holder's unwarranted prosecution of our intelligence officers who had been given legal authorization to act during a previous Administration. The President should heed this counsel. Just as important, the provisions of the PATRIOT Act that have proved so useful to domestic intelligence gathering should be extended.
Our fighting forces have been exhausted by protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research has recommended an increase in our active-duty land forces, and this should be done to relieve personnel strained by extended commitments. Our investment in a larger standing land force can be balanced in part by substituting civilian for military personnel to perform non-combat support service whenever possible. We must also insist that our allies in Europe and Asia fund a greater share of their own defense to reduce pressure on our own forces and military budget.
I am the mother of two sons, both of whom have declared their readiness to serve our nation in war. Like you, I pray that not a single American soldier will lose his or her life in battle, and yet we know that the armed forces of our nation risk their lives every day defending American interests in theaters around the globe. We are gradually withdrawing from a war in Iraq, and we are actively engaged in what is now nearly a decade of war in Afghanistan. We are faced with the question of whether or not to escalate that war still further.
The crucial questions we must ask before putting American lives at risk are these: Are the vital interests of the United States at stake? Have we exhausted all peaceful means to resolving the problem? And in Afghanistan, we must ask: What will define victory? How long will it take, what will it cost, and when can we expect to bring our troops home? We have not yet heard President Obama answer these questions.
The men and women who have served this great nation, defended the cause of freedom, and risked their lives in combat are entitled to our lasting gratitude. To them and to all my fellow citizens, I give my unequivocal guarantee to provide for our veterans' health, educational opportunities, and job training, and for assistance to the families of those who have died in service to the United States of America.