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Congressman Tom McClintock

Representing the 4th District of California

Strength and Security Seminar - Concerned Veterans for America

December 2, 2014

Congressman McClintock delivered the following remarks at a forum on national strength and security in Washington, D.C. hosted by Concerned Veterans for America 


Strength and Security Seminar
Concerned Veterans for America

December 2, 2014


    The foreign threats to our nation’s strength and security abound, but they at least have the advantage of being clearly defined – indeed, they declare themselves at every opportunity.

    We should also recognize that we face domestic threats of our own making that are not as dramatic – but are potentially far more dangerous.  They are the precarious condition of our nation’s finances, our own undefended border, feckless foreign policy and modern military doctrines that ignore fundamental historical truths in favor of politically correct ideology.

First, we cannot provide for the common defense if we cannot pay for it, and the ability of our nation to do so is slowly dissipating.  When he was JCS Chairman, Admiral Mike Mullin warned that in his professional military judgment, our greatest national security threat was our national debt.  That was five years and five trillion dollars of debt ago.   

I believe that he was right and that history is screaming this warning at us: that nations that bankrupt themselves aren’t around very long.   Putting our nation’s finances back in order and restoring the credit that a great crisis will demand is a prerequisite to our nation’s security.

Second, the most serious direct threat posed to the United States by Islamic terrorist states and groups is not on Middle Eastern soil but on American soil.  These governments and organizations have been explicit in declaring their intention to insert a fifth column within our borders to wage jihad on Americans.  For far too long, we have ignored the threat posed by a wide-open southern border, lax enforcement on the northern border and non-enforcement of visa overstays – and this neglect needs to stop now.  

I am asked all the time, what good it is to secure the borders of Iraq when our own borders are wide open and undefended?  I cannot answer them.

Third, (forgive me for such a complex geopolitical point), we need a foreign policy that stops sending aid to governments that want to kill us; that can tell the difference between our friends and our enemies and that treats our friends better.  

Until recently, a time-honored American tradition was not to attack another nation unless it attacked us.  When we perceived potential threats, we surrounded them with superior force and acted as what FDR called “the great arsenal of democracy.”  

For example, that means assuring that Israel has all the equipment, supplies, and assistance it may need in coming years, and that it has the unqualified support of the United States when it must take action for its own security.   

     Fourth, we need to recognize that post-World War II military doctrine has largely abandoned simple and time-honored principles of war to which we must return.

    The first is the bedrock constitutional principle that only Congress may declare war.  There are many good reasons for this, one of which is that for a war to be sustained, it must have the unqualified support of the representatives of the people.  It should be obvious that a nation that is not willing to declare war is really not willing to fight one.

    The second doctrine we need to return to is MacArthur’s maxim that in war, there is no substitute for victory.  History warns us that there is no way to predict what twists and turns war might take.  A nation that is not prepared to put its full might and fury behind its troops has no business getting into one in the first place.  War is a ghastly business and it should be waged with the sole objective of winning it as decisively and quickly as possible. 

The third doctrine in need of re-thinking is the rules of engagement that make it virtually impossible for our forces to prevail in an armed conflict.  For example, rules that deliberately disarm our troops, or forbid or restrict their ability to return fire.     

The fourth mistaken doctrine is that the purpose of our military is to win the hearts and minds of the civilian population.    

When a nation wages war it is long beyond winning the hearts and minds of the population – wars are waged to destroy the hostile government’s ability to make war and to destroy the population’s willingness to sustain it.  

    A day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt sought a congressional declaration of war to which the Congress pledged ALL the resources of the nation.  We backed our troops to the hilt, and in just 3 ½ years we had vanquished the most powerful military powers on the planet, and by force imposed civilizing governments upon those nations entirely of our design and choosing.    

    Alas, for more than a decade our government has gone on in what Churchill once described as,

 “A strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolute to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful for impotence.”  

    The good news is that these policies are of our making and doing – and they can be changed when we summon the political will to do so.

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