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Mr. CHAMBLISS. I thank my friend from South Carolina, as well as my friend from Arizona, with respect to the debate they have been engaged in, for bringing this issue to the forefront, and being willing to stand up and say: Hey, if you talk about foreign aid in a coffee shop in Seneca, SC, or Phoenix, AZ, or Moultrie, GA, it is not the most popular topic. Most people back home think we can balance the budget if we eliminate foreign aid. But the fact is, as Senator Graham said, it is a fairly minuscule amount in the overall context.
Right now we are at a critical juncture in our country with respect to our fiscal house and with respect to any number of domestic and foreign policies. As we go into the election, the American people are going to have a choice to make, but we are also at a crossroads with our foreign policy in this country.
All people have to do is pick up this morning's paper or turn on the TV and they will see what is happening in countries that are the subject of this particular amendment. There are tens of thousands of people protesting in Pakistan today. There are folks in Egypt who are still protesting. There are folks in Libya who are still protesting. We are 10 days away from the Ambassador to Libya from the United States of America having been killed.
We know that part of the world is in turmoil. We know that part of the world also has been very critical to our fight in the war on terror. When the President of the United States is asked if Egypt is an ally, and he can't answer that question affirmatively, that tells us what kind of foreign policy this particular President has. He doesn't know what his foreign policy is if he can't tell us whether Egypt is an ally.
Well, in spite of all that has happened in the last 10 days--and all of us still grieve for the loss of four very brave Americans who put their lives in harm's way as civilians to advocate what is in the best interests of our country. But I will assure you, if Ambassador Stevens were here today, he would say, absolutely, the direction in which the Paul amendment takes us is the wrong direction to go.
I know what the intelligence community thinks about this particular direction. I know the intelligence community thinks in spite of all of our problems with Pakistan--and we have had our very open and overt problems with Pakistan over the last several months and couple of years. But the fact is we have American soldiers in harm's way today in Afghanistan who are fighting to protect the freedoms of this country and who are fighting to make sure we remain the safest, most secure country in the world. We cannot decouple Afghanistan and Pakistan.
It is very important that we maintain a strong relationship with Pakistan. Even though it is difficult and even though it is fractured, it is of critical importance that we maintain that relationship. It is important because of what is happening in Afghanistan, but it is also very important for another reason.
We had a debate in this body about a year ago on what is called the START treaty, which is a treaty that we have with Russia for the elimination of certain nuclear weapons over a period of time.
During the course of that debate, we talked about the elimination of Russian nuclear weapons versus weapons in the United States. And that is good to a certain extent. But none of us in this body who have any idea about intelligence around the world have a great fear of any country getting hold of an ICBM, a major intercontinental ballistic missile, sticking it into a sleeve somewhere, and shooting it toward the United States. What we do have a fear of is somebody getting hold of what we call tactical nuclear weapons, sticking them into a suitcase and bringing them to the United States or putting them in a position to kill and harm Americans.
Pakistan has tactical nuclear weapons. As long as we maintain a strong relationship with them and as long as they are our ally--however you characterize that--then we have the ability to at least dialogue with the Pakistanis with respect to their nuclear program.
Even today, with all that has happened over the last 10 days and all the condemnation around the world from democratic countries, and particularly within the United States the condemnation of what has happened and the consternation and appall at what is taking place from the standpoint of demonstrations in Pakistan and in Libya, the Libyan Government and the Pakistani Government have given us all the help they can possibly give us, particularly in Libya. That is a government in transition. It is a temporary government, and we need to make sure the people of Libya have the opportunity to, hopefully, have a democratic form of government one day.
If we sever ties with them today, folks, that is over. We can just make certain of the fact that we have one more territory, one more country where terrorists have the opportunity to be trained to kill and harm Americans.
With respect to Pakistan, the PAC government has sent the Palace Guard to guard the Embassy of the United States. That is their most elite troops. Again, our relationship is frayed and it is fractured, but they are doing their level best to try to make sure the Americans who remain in Pakistan are protected. If we all of a sudden decide that we are going to cut them off from financial aid, is that going to improve the situation? Is it going to give us some sort of satisfaction? It may from the standpoint of folks who don't like the idea of foreign aid period. But from a national security standpoint, it is simply the wrong thing to do.
There will be one country that will gain from this. The country that will gain from this is the most notorious terrorist-sponsoring nation in the world, and that is Iran. Iran has a very powerful presence in Pakistan today. They want to have a powerful presence in Libya. I assure you if we cut off the minimal amount of aid that is being talked about with this amendment, then we are simply fostering the ability of Iran to have a larger voice and a larger presence in countries that are very fractious and very vulnerable today.
So while in spirit I agree with my good friend Senator Paul, this is not
the right time in the history of our country and not the right time in the history of the world to take action that is simply not in the best interest of the United States.
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