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Public Statements

Sen. Paul Addresses Cadets at The Citadel

Statement

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Sen. Rand Paul today spoke to cadets at The Citadel in Charleston, S.C. Below is text prepared for delivery and video of his address.

TRANSCRIPT:

It is an honor to be with you here today at the Citadel.

Gen. Rosa, thank you for this opportunity. I would also like to acknowledge Lt. Gen. Mike Steele, Chairman of The Citadel's Board of Visitors. And thanks to Cadet Colonel Colin Hicks, the Regimental Commander, for his leadership of the Corps of Cadets.

Some of you may one day be called to defend your country. If you choose to serve, it will be willingly, as a volunteer. Our military is second to none and much of that excellence stems from having professionals who serve voluntarily. Since 1842, Cadets at The Citadel have answered their nation's calling. Of last year's class, fully 40 percent accepted commissions into the Armed Forces.

They will serve bravely and with purpose. They follow in the footsteps of graduates like Col. Myron Harrington, US Marine Corps, retired, Citadel class of 1960.[1] In 1968 during the Tet Offensive, Col. Harrington led a courageous assault against a heavily fortified enemy stronghold in Hue City. [2]

Disregarding extreme personal danger, he led his Marines in overrunning the entrenched enemy position. For that action, Col. Harrington received the Navy Cross, the nation's second highest military award for valor in combat.[3] Col. Harrington is with us today. I would like to thank him for his service to our nation.[4]

Those of us in Washington who must make the decision to go to war owe you something, something that has been lacking in recent years. We owe you a full and proper consideration of the pros and cons of war.

We owe it to you to follow our Constitution and for Congress to debate and authorize all wars.

We owe it to you to clearly show our national interest before we go to war. We owe it to you to have a sound strategy, an achievable goal, and most of all, an exit plan so we aren't stuck in quagmires for decades on end.

And above all, we should demand a formal declaration of war before we risk the blood of our soldiers!

I have taken an oath to defend the Constitution against our enemies. I consider it the primary and foremost duty of the Federal Government to defend America, to defend our Bill of Rights and to defend our God-given liberties.

As a Senator, I would not hesitate to vote for war, if war were needed to defend us. Once war is declared, it is the duty of the Commander in Chief to faithfully execute victory.

America cannot shrink from its role in the world. We have been and should be a shining example of good, and at times, a superpower of last resort to maintain peace and prosperity.

America must be and will be engaged with the world, commercially, diplomatically, and when necessary, militarily. To be engaged, though, does not always mean to be engaged in war.

Reagan believed in peace through strength. Reagan's Defense Secretary, Caspar Weinberger, presented the doctrine insisting that war occur only as a last resort, only when vital national interests are at stake and only when our objective is complete victory[5].

For inspiration and guidance, I often look towards America's great military leaders. Some of the best observations of war and diplomacy come from the president who was also one of our most decorated generals, Dwight Eisenhower.

In David Nichols' book, Eisenhower 1956, he writes that Ike "believed, with good reason, that once the violence begins, everything changes and you can throw your plans in the trash." [6]

It's too bad more in Washington don't heed Ike's advice today.

In Egypt recently, we saw a military coup that this Administration tells us is not a military coup. In a highly unstable situation, our government continued to send F-16s, Abrams tanks and American-made tear gas. My guess is that the protestors on the receiving end of tear gas made in Pennsylvania don't harbor warm and fuzzy feelings for America. [7]

Before sending aid to the Generals, we sent F-16s, tanks and billions in aid to the government they just overthrew-President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.[8]

Before Morsi, we sent F-16s, tanks and over $70 billion to Hosni Mubarak, a dictator who we called our ally. [9]

Common-sense tells us that we shouldn't be sending aid to dictators or to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Common-sense tells us that that we shouldn't be delivering advanced weaponry into unstable situations, where the outcome is completely unpredictable.

And I will tell you one thing of which I am certain-we shouldn't be sending foreign aid to nations that burn our flag.

In 2012, I introduced a bill in the Senate halting the transport of weapons to Egypt, Pakistan and Libya. [10] In February of this year, I introduced an amendment that would've prevented the shipment of weapons to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. [11]

While I believe the American people are with me, the Senate defeated my proposed legislation.

This past summer, I introduced another bill to prevent the sale of weapons to Egypt, after the most recent military coup. [12]

There shouldn't be a need for my bill. U.S. law states that foreign aid must be suspended in the event of a military coup. What does this Administration do? It simply pretends there was no military coup. [13]

In Egypt, the regimes keep changing-but our system of foreign aid stays the same. After several months of ignoring the law, the Obama Administration finally agreed to stop at least part of the military aid.[14]

I say, too little, too late.

Unlike Eisenhower and earlier generations, we too often don't think before we act. I think many in Washington do things in our foreign policy to accomplish short terms goals but ultimately hurt our national interests and allies.

As we continue to aid and arm despotic regimes in Egypt, we are also now sending weapons to the rebels in Syria.

According to a recent poll from Pew Research, over 70 percent of Americans are against arming the Islamic rebels in Syria, yet the Senate continues to arm these Islamic radicals.[15] [16] This is unacceptable!

The Assad regime is no friend to freedom or the United States.

But this does not mean that the enemy of our enemy is our friend.

There are currently many different rebel groups in Syria, including extremist forces such as al-Nusra, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda.[17] [18]

Those in Washington who are eager to send these weapons, say they will not fall into the hands of our enemies.

Do you believe that? Does anyone believe that? We have trouble telling friend from foe in Afghanistan. Syria is a thousand-fold more chaotic. Even our Joint Chief of Staff Chairman, Gen. Martin Dempsey warns that it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell friend from foe in Syria.[19]

Would Eisenhower, who believed small wars could lead to big wars, buy into such nonsense?[20]

Regardless, the United States government should not, even if indirectly, be arming al-Qaeda. But this Administration is currently moving ahead with plans to do precisely that, without the specific authorization of Congress.[21]

How can we ask our brave men and women to fight against al-Qaeda in some countries, while arming al-Qaeda in other countries?

It makes no sense. I for one am not inclined to have America become the Air Force for al-Qaeda.

There is also the very real possibility that these weapons will be used against two million Christians currently living in Syria, who are generally protected by the Assad regime.

We have no legitimate national interest in Syria. It is certainly not in our interest to arm extremists who might use American weapons to kill Christians.

If our policies in Egypt and Syria weren't bad enough, look at Pakistan. When we finally caught Osama Bin Laden, it was in Pakistan and was due in part to help from a man named Dr. Shakil Afridi. Today, Dr. Afridi sits in a jail cell, as part of a 33-year sentence, for the supposed "crime" of helping us catch Bin Laden.[22]

What do we do? We continue to send Pakistan billions of dollars in aid. Last year I introduced legislation[23] that would have made aid to Pakistan contingent upon the release of Dr. Afridi.

The American public overwhelmingly supports limiting foreign aid, yet the Senate once again voted against any reductions on foreign aid.[24]

Why do we arm dictators and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt? Why do we arm affiliates of al-Qaeda and endanger Christians in Syria? Why do we reward Pakistan with our tax dollars-as they continue to imprison the man who helped us catch Bin Laden?

The first and primary function of our government is a strong national defense. But so much of what Washington does today is more like an irrational offense. How does sending foreign aid to Egypt, Syria and Pakistan help our national security? Does it make it more probable that we might get drawn into further conflicts in the future?

In Egypt and Pakistan, they riot and burn our flag. I say not one penny more to any nation that burns our flag.

In Libya, we used to oppose Dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who was responsible for the Pan Am flight bombing over Lockerbie Scotland, which killed American school kids. [25]

Then we made Gaddafi an ally, and even members of the U.S. Senate supported sending Gaddafi weapons. Not long after, Libyan rebels toppled Gaddafi and the exact same Senators supported giving weapons to those rebels.[26]

A year later, we had a tragedy in Libya where our Ambassador and other diplomats were murdered on the streets of Benghazi. Was this done by some of the "rebels" we once helped?

Why did we ever help them? Why did we ever help Gaddafi? When Hillary Clinton was asked for more security, she turned the Ambassador down.[27] Under cross-examination, she admitted that she never read the cables asking for more security.[28]

I find it inexcusable that security requests were denied. I find it a clear dereliction of duty. Failure to provide our Ambassador and his mission with adequate security should preclude her from ever holding high office again.

Amidst the chaos of the Middle East we have always had one friend that never leaves our side-Israel. As an ally, Israel has never wavered. One thing you can know for sure is you will never see an Israeli burning the American flag.

America has never backed down from a fight-but we should never be a nation that is eager to get involved in nations' conflicts that work against our own national security.

President Eisenhower said: "I have one yardstick by which I test every major problem - and that yardstick is: Is it good for America?"[29]

Is our current foreign policy good for America? Is our involvement in Egypt, Syria and Pakistan to our benefit-or our detriment?

We must have the strongest military on earth, not because we are eager to use it, but because no one would ever dare challenge us. I believe Ronald Reagan got it right when he said:

"As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it: we will not surrender for it, now or ever. Our forbearance should never be misunderstood. Our reluctance for conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will. When action is required to preserve our national security, we will act. We will maintain sufficient strength to prevail if need be, knowing that if we do so we have the best chance of never having to use that strength."[30]

For our country's sake, certainly for our soldiers' sake-for the sake of every veteran who ever donned the uniform and fought for this country-America's mission should always be to keep the peace, not police the world.

An America that did not seek to become involved in every conflict of the world could do things to make us safer at home and abroad.

We could modernize and strengthen our military.

In a few weeks, I will be announcing the formation of a task force to do just that-to bring together great minds from the world of national defense, and put forward a plan to modernize our military, and strengthen our defenses.

We will begin by an Audit of the Pentagon, to eliminate waste and non-defense items, so we can better take care of our true defense needs.

And with the savings from modernization and a more reasonable foreign policy, we will do something we are failing at right now: we will take better care of our nation's greatest resource-our service members. We will train them better, equip them better, provide for them better, and we will fix a broken Veteran Affairs system to take care of them when they return.

As a physician, when I visited Walter Reed, I was profoundly impacted by men and women-close in age to my own children-receiving care for injuries sustained in battle.

This reinforced my worldview on the need to prevent conflicts, unless they are absolutely necessary. Those injured in our most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, will require a lifetime of care.

We must work together to provide and protect those who have protected us.

We must be more prudent in our foreign policy. Eisenhower was right to observe that little wars can often lead to big wars.[31] Reagan was right that America's purpose is to promote peace through strength.[32]

Ronald Reagan once said, "Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have."[33]

We do ourselves no favors when we aid the enemies of freedom around the world. America has always stood tall as a shining beacon of hope and freedom to the world. America's guiding light is made possible by those willing to wield the sword and shield.

Unwavering. Steadfast. The American soldier, a volunteer in defense of liberty. For you we are grateful: for your strength, your service and your sacrifice.

Thank you.


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