(Senate - December 21, 2017)

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[Congressional Record Volume 163, Number 209 (Thursday, December 21, 2017)]
[Pages S8192-S8193]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                           NATIONAL SECURITY

  Mr. CASEY. Mr. President, I want to thank the Democratic leader for 
his remarks.
  When I was speaking a few moments ago about national security, I had 
made a suggestion to the administration that there is a national 
security strategy that has been outlined and that the administration 
reject the false choice between investing at home and engaging abroad 
and make sure that they utilize our diplomatic and development toolkits 
as much as if not more than they exercise our defense capabilities.
  We have major challenges, and that is why I think it is important to 
outline this morning some of those challenges and some of our responses 
as we head into the new year.
  Just for discussion purposes, I wanted to paint the picture of a 
nation that--it doesn't describe one nation, but I think we can imagine 
a country that fits this description or at least a number of countries 
that might. Imagine a sovereign state, a member of the United Nations, 
a nation whose leaders are singularly focused on staying in power and 
who will do anything to remain in power, including undermining their 
colleagues and erstwhile friends. In this country I am describing, 
those who speak truth to power are dismissed, ridiculed, or, at worst, 
treated as criminals. This particular country or profile of a country 
looks inward, putting its domestic troubles first as its reputation in 
the world declines. Out of fear of its near-peer competitors, the 
country retreats from diplomatic engagement and doubles down on 
military capabilities. Does this sound familiar? It might to some. It 
may describe a number of countries in whole or in part.
  Of course, there are a number of countries that fit this description. 
Certainly, the dictatorial regimes that rule North Korea, Syria, and 
Iran prioritize self-preservation over the welfare of their citizens. 
In Russia and China, journalists and opposition leaders are regularly 
silenced, jailed, or worse.
  Here in the United States, we are going through an especially 
turbulent chapter in the American story. As we celebrate the holidays, 
we might be dreading the inevitable political debates with family 
members or friends whose views differ from ours. However, in that 
fictitious, oppressive country that I described earlier, you can't have 
these debates, or you can try, but you won't last too long because the 
authorities will come knocking.
  That is what is great about our country. The United States is the 
land of the free and the home of the brave, and I am reminded of that 
every time I meet with servicemembers and veterans who are willing to 
put their lives on the line every day to defend our inalienable rights 
to criticize and to disagree with our leaders.
  So what about this new strategy that the administration just outlined 
this week? This new strategy states, in pertinent part, that ``America 
possesses unmatched political, economic, military, and technological 
advantages.'' That is what the strategy says, and that is certainly 
true. But I think we should add a few other advantages, even 
attributes, that are part of the American story, part of the American 
  Certainly, our history of generosity sets us apart from the world, a 
tradition of pluralism as well, the freedom to debate and dissent 
without fear, the respect for the rule of law, and finally a culture of 
innovation unmatched anywhere in the world. As I have said before, 
Americans don't wait for the future; we invent the future.
  Through the execution of its strategy, the administration has an 
opportunity to invent the future of our Nation, as well as its role in 
the world--a future where the American economy is firing on all 
cylinders, where investments here at home lift up everyone, where our 
researchers and manufacturers lead the world in the production of 
cutting-edge technologies.
  For the last 11 months, this administration has sent the world mixed 
signals about what ``America first'' really means, from pulling out of 
the Paris climate agreement, to threatening to walk away from NATO, to 
hollowing out the State Department. I believe the strategy 
implementation presents an opportunity to reverse that course. We 
cannot turn away from the world and try to go it alone. We should ask 
our allies, certainly, to pull their weight and pay their fair share. 
Whether it is NATO or the counter-ISIS coalition, the United States can 
always press our partners to do more, but not by threatening that we 
will abandon these alliances or by creating any uncertainty about these 
alliances. Simply put, we need partners to tackle some of the greatest 
threats facing our Nation and the world.

  Let's go through a couple of them.
  North Korea is first on the list. The North Korean regime is 
unpredictable and armed with nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons 
and the means to deliver them. Just across the demilitarized zone are 
tens of thousands of U.S. forces and our South Korean allies. Just 
across the water are more

[[Page S8193]]

U.S. military personnel and our Japanese allies. This regime is a 
significant threat--the North Korean regime. It is a threat exacerbated 
by reckless ridicule, bombastic statements, and ill-considered tweets. 
One miscalculation can be disastrous. The administration should 
accelerate serious, sober diplomacy in lockstep with our allies. For 
the New Year, let's agree to a new rule for all of us--both branches of 
government: Leave the tweets for domestic policy only. Sound foreign 
policy and security policy cannot be done in 280 characters.
  Congress has offered the administration powerful leverage in this 
circumstance in the form of several pieces of legislation. First, the 
Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act passed this 
summer, and the Banking Restrictions Involving North Korea Act is 
pending before the Senate now. I support these tough, bipartisan 
sanctions measures because I believe turning the economic screws, 
coupled with genuine diplomacy, can yield results. In the New Year, I 
urge the President to tone down the rhetoric and to empower the 
Secretary of State and our senior diplomats to find a diplomatic path 
toward a stable North Korea that doesn't threaten the United States or 
our allies.
  How about terrorist groups around the world? Over the last 16 years, 
the U.S. military, the intelligence community, and our homeland 
security professionals have worked hand in hand to meet the rise of 
terrorist groups head on. We owe the men and women in uniform a debt of 
gratitude for tirelessly leading the coalition fight that has rolled 
back ISIS's territorial gains. Implementing the administration's new 
strategy and its call to fight terrorism at its source is not just 
about the military fight. The United States should also lead the 
international community in addressing the underlying issues that drive 
terrorist recruitment and help to rebuild communities newly liberated 
from terrorist control.
  Think about this. More than 65 million people around the world are 
displaced from their homes right now. There is no purely military 
solution for this refugee crisis. A successful counterterrorism 
strategy requires us to work with our partners for information sharing 
and for contributions of development assistance.
  Another trouble spot in the world is Syria. In Syria, the connection 
between instability, displacement, and terrorism is clear. This 
conflict has been raging for nearly 7 years. In the absence of U.S. 
engagement on a political solution to this crisis, regional powers--
namely, Russia, Iran, and Turkey--have run the table, to the benefit of 
the murderous Assad regime and at the expense of the Syrian people. The 
United States has abdicated its leadership role and ceded control of 
the outcomes to nations with interests often in direct conflict with 
our own.
  Recently, we learned that the administration will endorse a political 
transition plan that leaves Bashar al-Assad in power for at least 
another 4 years. This is unacceptable and dangerous. Assad is 
responsible for terrible war crimes that led to the deaths of hundreds 
of thousands of Syrians and the displacement of millions more. The 
strategy outlined by the administration says: ``We will seek a 
settlement to the Syrian civil war that sets the conditions for 
refugees to return home and rebuild their lives and safety.''
  I agree with that goal. Most people would agree with that goal, but 
the administration has missed the bigger picture. We need a strategy 
that pushes back on Russian and Iranian influence in Syria and 
addresses the underlying grievances that led to the conflict in the 
first place.
  Let me move to Iran. The Iranian regime remains a powerful force for 
instability in the Middle East, especially through its support of 
terrorist proxies and militias. We know that the Iranians want to 
maintain control of territory linking Tehran with Beirut. So they will 
continue to act against U.S. interests in Iraq and Syria. Here, again, 
Congress has offered powerful tools to the administration in the form 
of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.
  The nuclear deal with Iran is giving us an unprecedented visibility 
on the Iranian nuclear program, but the multilateral diplomatic 
channels built alongside that agreement have atrophied under this 
administration. Every time the President threatens to walk away from 
the Iran nuclear deal, he sends a clear signal to our allies and 
adversaries alike: U.S. commitments are written in disappearing ink.
  If the administration wants to get tough on Iran's nonnuclear bad 
behavior, there are concrete steps to take today:
  No. 1, work with our allies to step up maritime interdictions of any 
illicit weapons traffic to or from Iran.
  No. 2, push the Europeans to do more to combat the financial networks 
that enrich the Iranian terrorist proxy, Hezbollah. My bipartisan Stop 
Terrorist Operational Resources and Money Act, or the so-called STORM 
Act, which is bipartisan, could help with that.
  No. 3, begin diplomatic conversations with our allies about a 
multilateral strategy to curtail the Iranian ballistic missile program.
  All of these efforts take cooperation with our allies, which the 
President makes harder every time he calls into question the future of 
the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
  Finally, as to Russia and China, the new strategy by this 
administration repeatedly describes Russia and China as our 
competitors. Let me be clear. These countries are not our friends. They 
actively work against U.S. interests. They are threatened by American 
military dominance and economic power, and both are trying to game the 
system to undermine our advantages.
  China systemically, perniciously games the international trade system 
to its advantage. I firmly believe American workers and industry can 
outinnovate and outproduce any others in the world when the playing 
field is level. Driven by similar motives, Russia has meddled in 
elections across the Western world, trying to undermine confidence in 
one of our most fundamental institutions of democracy. Again, there are 
concrete steps the administration can take to counter these threats 
from both China and Russia: No. 1, shore up our electoral systems and 
help others do the same; No. 2, counter propaganda; No. 3, fight 
corruption; and No. 4, get serious about holding trade cheaters like 
China accountable.
  Through engagement and cooperation, we can lead the rest of the world 
away from the Cold War-era clash of major powers that Russia and China 
want to create.
  In conclusion, if this outline of some of the threats and challenges 
posed seems like a tremendous challenge--a great challenge for our 
Nation--it is because it always has been so. It has always been a 
  President Truman once said:

       America was not built on fear. America was built on 
     courage, on imagination and on unbeatable determination to do 
     the job at hand.

  When faced with a challenge, whether it is Pennsylvanians or 
Americans, we don't shrink inward. We step up. Our adversaries want us 
to be divided and dispirited. These adversaries underestimate the 
courage, the imagination, and the determination of the American people.
  President Trump might see it differently, but as we close out 2017, I 
see a world that needs American leadership more than ever. To 
paraphrase President Kennedy, we should seek not a Pax Americana 
enforced on the world by American weapons of war but a genuine peace 
that makes life on Earth worth living. The American people are ready to 
rise to that challenge. I hope the administration is too.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Sullivan). The majority whip.