AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY -- (House of Representatives - March 16, 2004)
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentlewoman from Tennessee (Mrs. Blackburn) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, last week there was a quote attributed to JOHN KERRY, the Democratic nominee for President, who said "I've met foreign leaders who can't go out and say this publicly, but, boy, they look at you and say, 'You got to win this; you got to beat this guy; we need a new policy,' things like that." He has not denied the statement.
Quite frankly, whether the statement is accurate or not, and I do not believe it to be accurate, America's foreign policy decisions are not designed to win popularity contests. They are designed to protect and defend America, her citizens, and her allies.
In the days since September 11, there have been those who actually seem to believe that if we had been more understanding of extremist regimes and terrorists that perhaps they would have left us alone. There is a troubling trend in this campaign season. It has become almost formulaic, and we are hearing it from everybody, from the Democratic Presidential candidates on down. Criticize the President, criticize our foreign policy, criticize our country, criticize what we offer, and do it as loudly and as often as they can.
The alternative to President Bush's bold, tough foreign policy that puts terrorists and rogue regimes on the run is one that relies on the international community to take collective action. We have been there. We spent 12 years letting the U.N. throw paper at Saddam Hussein while Saddam's military launched missiles at our pilots, at American pilots enforcing the U.N. no-fly zones over Iraq. For 12 years the U.N. turned a blind eye while such as France allowed its citizens to profit from the Iraq Oil for Food or, as some call it, the Oil for Palaces Program.
International consensus, multilateralism? These are terms the policy wonks and the intellectual elites love to use. They are terms that sound great on paper, but an unyielding dedication to them has proven disastrous in the real world. Multilateralism and collective action are terms that we in the real world know to mean that America should stop leading and let the status quo remain. Those who profited from a status quo that allowed Saddam to remain in power, that allowed terrorists to grow and flourish in Afghanistan do not want us to act.
Nations that have neither the will nor the military capability to take on terrorism on a truly global scale should not criticize those that do.
It was 3,000 Americans, our buildings, our Pentagon that were targeted on September 11, and those responsible needed to know that we were going to do more than lob a few missiles. We have taken steps to reshape the world for the better, and whether this pleases the French is irrelevant. We alone have the capability and the responsibility to stamp out terrorism, and it is to President Bush's credit that he was not deterred by apologists for terrorists and Saddam.
Should America make a turn backward, back to the days when multilateralism and collective action were more important than promoting freedom and targeting terrorism, when we relied on the U.N. to slap dictators on the wrist and sit idly by as Afghanistan became a giant terrorist training camp? If we take that step back, then we are signifying our weakness.
The debate is very clear: Do you prefer that we act preemptively to prevent another September 11? Do you believe swift, decisive action in lands breeding terrorism is preferable to emergency response on the streets of our cities in the aftermath of an attack? Do you want American foreign policy dictated by your elected leaders or those in Europe?
I think the answer to this is clear. We all know the answer to this and, certainly, when we read polls like this one from the Iraqi people who say their life is better today than it was a year ago, we know the answer to that question.