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Public Statements

Sportsmen's Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CORKER. Mr. President, I wish to thank the great Senator from South Carolina, the State where I was born. I do want to say the committee makes those decisions. I don't want anybody to be jumping the gun with the kind of statements made earlier about future situations.

First of all, I wish to speak to the resolution brought forward on Iran. I thank the Senator from South Carolina for that and for the tremendous work he has done to bring so many of us on as cosponsors. I think it is a strong signal to Iran, but also to people in the neighborhood, about our beliefs. So I thank the Senator from South Carolina for that.

I wish to speak mainly, though, about the Paul amendment. First of all, I wish to say to the Senator from Kentucky that I understand the sentiments that drive people to look at foreign aid the way a lot of people around this country are looking at it today. I wish to remind people that our total foreign aid budget is 1 percent of what we spend each year, but that doesn't mean we don't need to look at it in a very different way.

We haven't done an authorization bill on foreign aid since I have been here. I have been here almost 6 years now. I know the Senator from South Carolina is the ranking member on Foreign Operations, and I know they spend a lot of time looking at things in an appropriate way. But there is no question that as a body we should be looking more closely at how we generate foreign aid to other countries, and I hope we are going to be doing that in this next Congress when, hopefully, we will begin to function in a much better way.

I wish to say the purpose of foreign aid at the end of the day, in many cases, is to keep our men and women in uniform from having to be deployed in other places because of unrest that is against our national interests. So I would like to point that out.

In this particular case, regarding Libya, Egypt and Pakistan, I would just like to point out three things: No. 1, the people of Libya are very thankful for our intervention. However, people have come in and created a travesty in Benghazi around our consulate, and these are people who are trying to undermine what we are doing there.

So the way the Paul amendment is drafted, if terrorists in any country we are aiding happen to do something at one of our embassies or consulates, then we withdraw aid. So what that means is that basically, terrorists--people such as al-Qaida, the Taliban, and other groups--are deciding what we are going to do as it relates to foreign aid. That would be a real big step for the Senate to say that in the future, everything we do relating to foreign aid will be determined by terrorists. I don't think that is what we want to do as a body.

So let me set Libya aside and say this was obviously something that wasn't a popular movement. It was done by premeditated terrorists. It was terrible. We all loved Chris Stevens, and we thank him for the work he has done for our Nation. But this is not the way for us to react to a country that is trying to evolve into, hopefully, a functioning democracy and, hopefully, a country that in some way down the road will create even more stability in that part of the world.

Let's move to Egypt. I was just in Egypt and sat down with the military leaders. One of the things we continue to talk about is the Camp David Accords. The aid we send to Egypt is to reinforce, in many ways, the Camp David Accords. That is very important to Israel, which is one of our major allies, one of the biggest allies we have in the world. So I don't know why we would decide to cut off all aid, which would totally undermine the Camp David Accords, which would totally undermine the security of a country that is one of our biggest allies.

Now, do we need to take into account the response in Egypt to what happened at our embassy? I think we should, and I think it should affect the negotiations we have with them regarding our foreign aid. I mean, let's face it. We have had decades of relationships with their military, and even though there have been a lot of changes in the country, the military is still there and, candidly, they did respond exactly the way we would like for them to respond. They are a great ally.

The President was a little hesitant to respond. I understand the fine line he is walking. He had just been elected. I understand the country hasn't been through this process, and I understand he didn't respond exactly the way we would expect him to respond. He, since that time, has, but I still think it should affect our negotiations and we ought to go slowly.

It is my understanding that the Senator from South Carolina, working with his counterpart, has taken those things into account as it relates to this next year, and I thank them for that.

So in Egypt, it looks to me as if we are slowing this down a little bit. We are making sure the relationship we have with Egypt is appropriate under the circumstances, and I thank the Senator for helping to make that happen. But withdrawing all aid would basically totally undermine the Camp David Accords, which most of us in this body believe to be something that is very important.

So let me move to Pakistan. Pakistan is a place where probably most of us are most disappointed. We understand the relationship the intelligence agencies in Pakistan have with the Haqqani network, and that has been disappointing. We understand the trouble we have had trying to close down some of the ammonium nitrate plants that are there and that are actually helping to create some of the IEDs that are used to dismember and harm and kill our men and women in uniform in Afghanistan. So we are disappointed about a lot of things in Pakistan.

Obviously, one of the most disappointing things--or maybe one of the things that is most difficult for us to understand--is the treatment of this physician who aided us with Osama bin Laden. Yet there is a legal process that is underway there, and I think we sometimes forget that, and there is a court of law there and, hopefully, that will have an outcome that ends up showing that it has been handled in a judicious way.

Let me just speak to Pakistan. We are getting ready to leave Afghanistan. We are going to have all of our troops out of Afghanistan, or a big part of our troops out of Afghanistan, by 2014. I met yesterday with General Dempsey. He was telling me that in order to meet that timeline, we have to move a truckload of equipment out of Afghanistan every 7 minutes between now and the end of 2014--every 7 minutes. Well, what is the major route we use to move our equipment out of Afghanistan? Pakistan.

Now, if we want to cut our nose off to spite our face, I would say let's close off that route, let's create enmity between us, more enmity than already exists.

I think most of us realize we have a very transactional-oriented relationship with Pakistan. It is not quite the way those of us in America would like to see it be, but the fact is there are some valuable things there that have a lot to do, by the way, with the safety of our men and women in uniform. If we have to take another route out in getting all of this equipment and material out of there, we are probably going to take a route that doesn't work quite as well for our men and women in uniform.

So, again, I understand the sentiment. Our phone is ringing off the hook with people who share the same sentiment. I understand it. When we see on television people rising up in these nations against us--by the way, these countries are not monolithic. It is not unlike here. We have groups, such as Occupy Wall Street, that are able to express themselves, but they don't represent my viewpoint. These countries are in some ways like ours. I mean, they have people who protest and do things. That doesn't mean the whole country feels that way. These are countries that have had strong men leading their countries in some places and aren't used to understanding what it means to be able to express themselves, and they don't understand how to operate in a society that is more open than it has been in the past.

So that certainly doesn't quell my strong feelings about what has happened in Benghazi, nor does it for anyone else here, I am sure. But the fact is we need to look at foreign aid in a different way. I think we have taken some steps to do that. We need to continue to improve. We need to make sure there is accountability.

What I do know is the Paul amendment is not the way to do it. Again, I appreciate the energy the Senator has brought to this body and the many good points he brings forth. But I know this: We do not want an amendment to pass that says if terrorists attack an embassy or consulate anyplace around the world, aid is taken from that country. I do not want a terrorist determining what our relationship is going to be with that country, and I think all of us know that our withdrawal from the Middle East will leave us in a world that is vastly unsafe for our citizens and for people around the world.

While I know our engagement needs to continue and evolve, I know this amendment is not the way to make that happen. I strongly oppose it, and I will vote against it if we ever get a vote on this amendment.

With that, I yield the floor.

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