“We weren’t there, and that’s exactly why the Russians moved in.”

McCaul, Thornberry Talk About the Cost of Retreat & the Importance of American Leadership Abroad

WASHINGTON, DC — In remarks last Thursday before a breakfast meeting of The Ripon Society, U.S. Reps. Michael McCaul (TX-10) and Mac Thornberry (TX-13) talked about the cost of retreating from an increasingly dangerous world, and why American leadership – and America’s alliances – are so critical to peace and security around the globe.

“One of the first speeches I saw the Vice President give was at the Munich Security Conference,” McCaul stated in response to a question about the importance of NATO. “He gave a very strong speech about the importance of NATO, reassuring our allies that we stand with NATO.  NATO is very important to the United States. It was formed to contain the Soviet Union.  In the Congress, there’s strong support for NATO. And I would argue within the Administration, they understand the importance of NATO, as well.”

McCaul serves as the Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and is considered one of the GOP’s top authorities when it comes to foreign policy and the challenges facing America around the world.  One of these challenges, he said, involves a country that is also a member of NATO.

“We let Turkey into the alliance to protect them against the Soviet Union,” the Texas lawmaker observed.  “Now, Turkey under Erdogan – who I would describe as a sort of an Ottoman Empire-style dictator – is going forward with the purchase of a S-400 Russian weapon system in complete defiance of the NATO accords and, I would argue, in violation of Russian sanctions.  We’ve told them repeatedly, ‘You can’t do that and buy our F-35, because they’re used to track our F-35.  You can’t have it both ways. We will sell you our Patriot systems, but you can’t buy the S-400. You are a NATO country.  You can’t buy from Russia.’”

“We met with the foreign minister, and what they’ll tell you is, ‘Well, you know what? You weren’t there and the Russians now are there in Syria.  They’re our next door neighbor. We have to deal with them because you were not there.’  And that is one point where I agreed with them.  We weren’t there, and that’s exactly why the Russians moved in.”

Thornberry concurred.

“We cannot allow Turkey to have the F-35 and the Soviet anti-air system, the S-400,” the Texas lawmaker declared.  “We have got to draw a hard line now, but we don’t want to alienate them forever. That’s a challenging line to walk.”

Thornberry serves as the Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee and has led the effort in recent years to rebuild America’s military after a period of neglect.  In addition to discussing America’s relationship with Turkey, he also shared his thoughts on the importance of America’s other alliances around the world, calling them a “crucial asset” that China and other our adversaries do not have.

“One of the most crucial assets we have that they don’t have is strong allies,” he stated, referring to the Sino nation.  “The same is true with Russia. Who’s an ally of Russia other than the people they have under their thumb? Our alliances – NATO, our alliances with Japan and Australia – are a crucial asset that we have with all of these challenges that we face.

“I think that our allies around the world were discombobulated with this President for a while. But they have come to understand his rhetoric, and they are watching what we do, not everything he tweets.  They are reassured because our commitment to NATO, if anything, has stepped up. And our military and intelligence-sharing with Japan and other allies in the Pacific as well as a number of allies in the Middle East is as strong as it’s ever been. So I think it was good to put some NATO countries on the spot for living up to their promises of 2% of their GDP going to defense and things like that. That’s a positive thing.  But the importance of our alliances in the past, in the present, and certainly in the future cannot be disputed.”

To view the remarks of Thornberry and McCaul before The Ripon Society breakfast discussion last Thursday, please click on the link below:

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 — Ripon, Wisconsin.  One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success.  These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.