In the absence of American leadership, dangers gather in far-away lands and terrorist threats against our homeland grow. This became explicitly clear as the Obama administration wrapped up its second term, leaving behind a foreign policy legacy that included the establishment and explosion of the Islamic State, a reckless nuclear deal that enriched a terror-sponsoring regime in Iran, and an emboldened tyrant in North Korea committed to bullying, blackmailing, and possibly attacking the United States with nuclear weapons.
Our allies didn’t trust us and our enemies did not fear us.
However, because of efforts by the current administration and actions taken in the House of Representatives, we are no longer pushing the most pressing problems to the next generation. Instead, we are confronting them head-on.
Earlier this year our military began implementing a new strategy that has empowered our battlefield commanders to hunt terrorists more aggressively. This is in stark contrast to the Obama era, which saw American planes drop leaflets ahead of an attack, warning our enemies to flee. This approach has allowed American-backed forces to liberate key ISIS strongholds that include Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. We are finally on the verge of destroying the so-called caliphate.
After two years of implementation, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has turned out to be exactly what critics predicted — an extremely flawed accord that left key components of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in place. The JCPOA has not only strengthened the oppressive government in Tehran with planeloads of cash and sanctions relief, it has also failed to alter Iran’s destabilizing and anti-American behavior.
Around the entire Middle East, Iran has been fomenting chaos through the formation of a “Shia Crescent” by supporting Houthi rebels in Yemen, Shi’ite militias in Iraq, Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Last month, after careful evaluation, the president rightly chose not to recertify the disastrous nuclear deal and sanctioned the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Last week, while standing before the National Assembly in Seoul with three of the world’s largest aircraft carriers in the waters off the coast of the Korean Peninsula, President Trump recalled Ronald Reagan’s principle of “peace through strength.” This was a clear warning to Kim Jong Un not to underestimate our resolve, and a reaffirmation of our commitment to the security of our allies.
For any foreign policy to be successful, however, the legislative branch must play a vital role, and the House has been leading the way.
In October, the House passed legislation to sanction Iran’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile program and its foremost terror proxy, Hezbollah. Earlier this year, I introduced a bill requiring the president to make a final determination as to whether or not the IRGC should be designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization – an action I consider to be long overdue. Combined, these measures demonstrate that we will not sit idly by while Iran destabilizes the Middle East.
The House also recently passed the Otto Warmbier North Korea Nuclear Sanctions Act. Named in honor of a young American who was detained, tortured, and killed by the government in Pyongyang, this legislation imposes secondary sanctions to limit any further financing of North Korea’s weapons programs. The actions of a nation-state that include the capture and unjust harm of American citizens will not go unpunished.
And just this week, the National Defense Authorization Act was approved with overwhelming bipartisan support. This bill provides topline spending of nearly $700 billion to increase the size of our Army, Navy, and Air Force, bolster missile defense, and better-equip our ground and naval forces. Simply put, this keeps our national defense capabilities at a level unmatched by any other country so we are more prepared to fight and win wars or prevent them from being fought in the first place.
There is still a lot of work to be done. Our enemies construct new plots and plans every day. As our national security challenges grow, so, too, do our opportunities to build alliances and work with other nations. With a new direction set by a White House that embraces our super-power status, coupled with decisive action taken in the House of Representatives, we are finally pursuing policies that directly confront the threats we face to foster a future that knows peace and prosperity.
Today, the United States is finally reclaiming the mantle of leadership on the world stage.
Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican, represents Texas' 10th congressional district in the House of Representatives. He serves as chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security and is a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.