Today I was appointed chairman of the Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade Subcommittee for the next Congress by Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman-to-be Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. For one Congress, 2005-2006, I chaired this Committee, minus the "Trade" portfolio. These are three key issues. I'm ready to go.
Terrorism and proliferation should be linked. The threat of a terrorist using WMD is deadly serious. While today's terrorist attacks are mainly suicide bombings, terrorist groups are looking to get WMD. We desperately need new strategies to combat this spreading technology. I'm gravely worried about the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. Then there are the terrorist states of Iran and North Korea. Look for the Committee to turn-up the pressure on these two rogues.
In Washington, we've backtracked since the 9/11 Commission identified Islamist terrorism as the threat we face. Many don't even want to touch this, referring to the generic "violent extremism." Better know thy enemy.
I admit I was pleasantly surprised when the Obama Administration struck a new Korea trade deal with President Lee's government. I didn't think it had much of a chance, and it's done.
Soon the ball will be in Congress' court. I've followed U.S-South Korea relations for a long time. This deal makes sense, economically and strategically. Don't act, and U.S. competitiveness will suffer as Europeans with their trade deal will bag American jobs. By one estimate: 340,000. This is what I'll continue to argue, but this deal is no gimme in Congress.
Part of what's sapping support for trade in the U.S. is China. Very troubling is China's abuse of American investors, stealing technology by hook or by crook. China's rule of law is very weak. Beijing appears committed to winning economic battles by any means necessary, jeopardizing our economic well-being. But at least American executives are losing their rose-colored glasses, finally speaking out. Congress is listening.
The Foreign Affairs Committee will be doing tough oversight of the Administration. To his credit, current TNT chairman Brad Sherman didn't pull punches with the Obama Administration, especially when regarding its relaxed administration of Iran sanctions. The Administration wasted a lot of time with its toothless diplomacy. I've had Democrats tell me that foreign policy works better when Congress is aggressive, pressing the State Department and other agencies.