Today, right now, North Korea is the number-one threat facing the United States and our allies in the Pacific. While Russia continues to be a threat to our democracy and our security, the nuclear proliferation and escalated accuracy of the threats coming from the unhinged Kim regime have pushed this to the very top of our national security concerns.
Point blank: The threat from North Korea is very real, but the hysteria is entirely unnecessary and a disservice to our national defense. To underestimate our enemies is foolish, but to underestimate our own military strength and capability is detrimental and will cause long-term damage.
History teaches us many things. During the height of the Cold War, we saw the hysteria that came with the threat of annihilation from the Soviet Union. Rather than cower in the corner, we saw the best of American leadership under Presidents Truman, Kennedy, and Reagan, who stared down the Soviet threat. Through diplomacy and strong leadership, our successful efforts led to a new birth of freedom and opportunity across Europe, in countries that so longed for it.
The instability and chaos of the global world order during these times of war pushed our leaders to stand up with the full arsenal of our military, the likes of which the world had never seen before. When diplomacy failed, our strength and resolve spoke volumes.
Since that time, the U.S. has continued to stand as a global force, with the strongest military in the world, and we have built up our allies through our diplomatic and cooperative efforts. Yet our actions during the course of the past eight years has allowed our enemies to take advantage of the power vacuum we have created. That is what we see today with Russia running rampant over the Middle East and Eastern Europe, and the Kim regime advancing the lethality of its nuclear program.
Sadly, the failed Obama policies of "leading from behind" and "strategic patience" have led us to this frightening prospect of nuclear war. Our inability to remind our adversaries of the military capabilities we have has led to a weakened position for us internationally. I am confident this has started to change recently, but the reality is, and always will be, that the U.S. must be ready and able to thwart attacks and defend ourselves when diplomacy fails.
When it comes to North Korea, we must do everything we can to boost our defensive capabilities and advance new technology to respond to missile threats. That means beefing up our allies in Japan and South Korea to respond to nuclear, as well as artillery strikes. That also means utilizing new technologies such as boost phase intercept that can actually have an effective impact in taking down potential North Korean ballistic missiles. And it also means we need to continue to push China to take a tougher line with the patron on its borders. We can do so by implementing secondary sanctions on Chinese banks and institutions that serve as a financial lifeline to the Kim regime.
The current and growing hysteria surrounding North Korea may be all too familiar to the generations of Americans who grew up watching the global instability and chaos from our past wars.
But we must remember this: We as Americans are far from reliving the past. No matter how far the threats from the Kim regime are willing to go, we are the most powerful country in the world.
Our military, and that of our allies, are capable of unleashing enormous strength against our enemies. The moment we underestimate our own capabilities we set a new precedent of doubt into motion, taking away from the men and women who have given their lives to fight for all that we hold dear.
Let's all take a moment to remember what we stand for, what we will always stand for, and what can never be taken away.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., represents Illinois' 16th district in Congress. He is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. You can follow him on Twitter: @RepKinzinger
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