Abe Lincoln said government should do for people what they cannot do for themselves. Certainly, national defense and security qualify for that. Safety and security of people are the first responsibilities of government. It is my view that America must continue to be the strongest military force on the planet. I am not prepared to trust another power to be in that position. Maintaining this superiority is more difficult today than at any time in the past. Today, it’s more than nation states who seek to do us harm. The reality today is the “power of one” has so much potential for large-scale damage. One group or one person can cause unspeakable horror. The risk of cyber attack is real. We live in a world where we cannot afford to risk our military being inadequate. Our military must be the strongest.
Our military cannot remain the best if we have a weak economy. Experts agree on that. A vibrant economy is the most essential thing in maintaining a strong military. It is also important to remember our military is not the only measurement of our strength. Our “soft power” is also crucial to our strength and security. Soft power is our ability to influence world affairs as a result of respect we have earned in the eyes of the world. President John F. Kennedy said, “I look forward to a great future for America – a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose.”
In order for our military to remain the best, congress also needs to do its part and have the courage not to spend money that is wasteful and unnecessary for its core missions. The Pentagon has said more than 20% of our military bases will not be needed by next year. Military bases are kept open to support local economies, but we need to help those communities some other way.
Finally – and perhaps most importantly – our civilian leaders need to have a clear and compelling national purpose when they order military action. It is unconscionable to put our service men and women and the integrity of the United States at risk for missions that begin without a clear goal and can result in further destabilization of other regions of the world.