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Public Statements

IndyStar.com - Playing Nice Won't Protect Us

Op-Ed

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By Dan Coats

Our Constitution mandates the federal government protect its citizens from threats both foreign and domestic, in times of war and peace.

Along with jobs and the economy, national security is one of the two transcending issue sets that Indiana's next U.S. senator must immediately address as the list of looming threats grows longer.

With Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and North Korea, as well as the potential spread of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction technology, there is no shortage of national security and diplomatic challenges facing our nation today.

Our engagement in Afghanistan and Iraq provides an ongoing array of serious matters that leaders must address. Iraq is now on firmer footing thanks to the valor and perseverance U.S. troops demonstrated during the surge -- the very strategy that President Obama had opposed strongly during the presidential primary campaign.

But in Afghanistan, our past gains may now be in jeopardy because of the president's decision to set a date certain for withdrawal from the country, thus encouraging our enemies to hunker down, wait us out and plot a return to power.

In the Middle East, we face the threat of a nuclear-capable Iran, which has reached crisis level and may now be the most urgent national security issue confronting us today -- one that the administration was dangerously slow to address.

These threats extend to our ally Israel, a beacon of democracy in a sea of hostile neighbors. Our relationship with Israel is based on fundamental shared values. The United States cannot afford to take such true international friendships for granted. Strategic partnerships are global assets. A threat to Israel can be a genuine threat to America.

As the leader on the world stage, the United States should set the example for relations with other countries. We must stand on principle and not force our allies into strategic concessions for the tactical sake of a fleeting international public relations win.

he fact is that using soft diplomacy alone with rogue regimes such as Iran and North Korea does nothing but encourage them; all talk and no action emboldens bullies to be even more aggressive toward neighbors and the world community. These nations must be stopped from gaining this unacceptably dangerous capability.

As Americans, we must never lose sight of the fact that there are many out there who want to kill us, destroy our economy and end our way of life.

Protecting our nation is a solemn duty, and one I have taken seriously during my time in public life -- from serving in the U.S. Army to serving on the Intelligence and Senate Armed Services committees, to serving as U.S. ambassador to Germany in the first years of the war on terrorism. In that post, I will never forget visiting soldiers in our military hospital who had been wounded on the battlefield. We owe them, and their brethren who made the ultimate sacrifice, an eternal debt of gratitude.

President Ronald Reagan's belief in peace through strength is as relevant and right today as it was then. Because when it comes to protecting our nation, every reasonable option should be considered and every available measure exhausted.

This is a very different approach from that of President Obama, whom my opponent supports. This president appears to think that playing nice with bad actors around the world can convince them to change their ways. Hoosiers know better.


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