The world today is far more dangerous than most of us have ever seen in our lifetimes. We have no choice, despite our budget problems, but to invest in a defense force of unmatched capability. We must ensure that our troops are equipped with the finest technology and capable of rapid deployment against a variety of threats. Our position of strength cannot be lost.
We should limit on-the-ground troop deployments and avoid nation-building and involvement in disputes we cannot hope to resolve, many of which are growing in the Middle East. We need to aggressively respond against ISIS but without significant numbers of American troops on the ground in Syria, Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East. Destroying ISIS as a nation state does require infantry in large numbers, but they must be supplied by neighboring Arab states – Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and others. It is essential that we obtain their full commitment to this effort because air strikes and other support by the U.S. and its allies will have little effect otherwise. With poor execution, we are at risk of merely dispersing ISIS fighters, not destroying them. For far too long, the United States has paid an unfairly large portion of our allies’ defense budget.
We must be mindful that the United States, together with our allies, face a three-front war against terrorism emanating from the Middle East. In addition to the war against ISIS, Europe faces an existential threat from mass migration of refugees, and we all face home-grown acts of terrorism sponsored or inspired by ISIS and other terrorist groups. A genuine coalition must be maintained – the U.S. cannot dictate policy alone while Europe has so much at stake in its refugee crisis.
Finally, and most importantly, Israel remains the only reliable democracy and friend in the Middle East. Our relationship with it has primacy. Boycotting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s appearance before Congress by some members of Congress, including Jan Schakowsky, was profoundly wrong.
While I believe in comprehensive immigration reform including a path to normalization for those already here, our border must be made absolutely secure. We can secure the border through a host of actions, including the use of unmanned aerial patrols, construction of a physical and virtual fences, and enhanced conventional patrolling.