February 4, 2015

February 4, 2015 | Lecture on Alliances

The Power of Friendship: Embracing Allies to Revitalize American Leadership

In this ninth Margaret Thatcher Freedom Lecture, Senator Ted Cruz outlines his vision for restoring American leadership and rebuilding partnerships with key U.S. allies at a time of increasing global threats to the United States and the free world. As observed by Lady Thatcher, America today “enjoys a superiority over any other power or combination of powers greater than any nation in modern times,” and this has certain implications: (1) remain strong and rebuild, reshape, and modernize our defenses; (2) pick our allies wisely, support them, and insist that they keep their commitments; and (3) be seen as speaking with unqualified authority. America should heed her words and embrace peace through strength, should stand by our friends, and defend the values of the United States of America.

Key Points

  1. Historically, the combination of a strong global network of allies with the credible threat of force against our enemies has formed the basis for a successful American foreign policy that has made the world a safer and more prosperous place.
  2. Today, however, the consequences of the Obama–Clinton foreign policy are that our friends no longer trust us and our enemies no longer fear us. That is profoundly dangerous both for America and for the world.
  3. What America needs today is commonsense policies that will contribute materially both to our prosperity here at home and to our security abroad as they cement our vital alliances and send a clear signal to our enemies that the Obama Administration’s policy of appeasement and moral equivalence is at an end.

Thank you very much, Nile,[1] for that very kind introduction. I’m honored to have the chance to join you, and I appreciate your leadership here at the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom at Heritage. Both the Center and your work embody the very special relationship between our two countries. I want to thank in particular my good friend Senator Jim DeMint for his extraordinary leadership here at Heritage and the incredible difference he makes each and every day. It is a privilege to be with you.

We’re gathered here today to talk about one of the greatest resources that America has traditionally enjoyed, which is the power of our friendships across the globe. One of the sad legacies we’ve seen of the last six years is a fraying of friendships and alliances across the world. The combination of a strong global network of allies with the credible threat of force against our enemies has formed the basis for a successful American foreign policy that has made the world a safer and more prosperous place.

Unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the last six years is a reversal of that trend. Today, the consequences of the Obama–Clinton foreign policy are that our friends no longer trust us and our enemies no longer fear us. That is profoundly dangerous for America; it is profoundly dangerous for the world.

What I want to discuss today is how we reverse that trend, how we change course, how we can see our friends and allies, along with our enemies, for who they really are and how we can advance the interests and national security of the United States across the world. I want to start by talking a little about the “Special Relationship” America and Great Britain have enjoyed—which has been so much to our mutual benefit.

It has to be admitted, however awkwardly for purposes of a speech on friendship at the Margaret Thatcher Center, that the United Kingdom was actually our first major enemy, but it’s an excellent lesson in how such relationships can change. The ties of language and culture and values that stretch across the Atlantic proved far stronger than the “unpleasantness” that took place between 1775 and 1815.

Perhaps our strongest bond is a shared commitment to the democratic principles that have survived from antiquity—a tradition that in Britain emerged in the shade of a large tree when King John sealed the Magna Carta on June 15, 1215, a momentous acknowledgment that even a monarch can be subject to the rule of law.

When we honor the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta next year, we’ll be celebrating the bedrock of the free systems of both the U.K. and the United States. It will be an important opportunity for us to reaffirm our commitment to the rule of law as outlined in the Constitution, which is based on the principles of separation of powers laid out in the Magna Carta: namely, that no man is above the law, especially not the President of the United States.

That is an admonition that is particularly relevant today as we see a President who routinely disregards the constitutional limitations on his authority and the principles of separation of powers and of federalism. We are reminded today of the admonition of Thomas Jefferson that our Constitution serves as “chains to bind the mischief of government,” and there’s plenty of mischief in Washington, D.C., today.

Another great milestone for liberty occurred in 1689 when King William and Queen Mary signed the Bill of Rights that established the fundamentally republican principles of Great Britain, including the need for Parliament to consent to the suspension or execution of laws, the right to free speech, and the protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

This remarkable achievement in turn inspired the audacious inhabitants of the British colonies in the New World to demand these same freedoms, and when they were denied, they took matters into their own hands. With the benefit of hindsight, it could be argued that this was an act befitting the descendants of men and women who had pledged to respect but not to idolize their sovereign.

The United States quickly proved itself a unique ally to Great Britain, and the so-called Special Relationship was born. Our friendship is so profound today that the very notion that we were once sworn enemies seems so strange as to be laughable. We have weathered some of our darkest hours together, fighting in the 20th century through the trenches of two world wars as well as side by side winning the Cold War.

It is a particular honor to address you today in the context of that friendship and particularly in the memory of Margaret Thatcher. In the distinguished pantheon of great British friends to the United States, including such luminaries as Winston Churchill, whose bust I might note sits in my office, there is perhaps none greater than Lady Thatcher—in no small measure because of the profound friendship and alliance she had with her American counterpart, Ronald Reagan.

It is truly a demonstration of God’s providential hand on our nation and on the world that President Reagan and Lady Thatcher and Pope John Paul II arose to leadership at the same time and came together to win the Cold War without firing a shot: If there has been a greater victory for peace, for the freedom of more people across the globe, I know not what it is.

This was a classic example of an alliance projecting a strength that is substantially more than the sum of its parts as Reagan and Thatcher together reversed the policy of détente towards the Soviets and instead followed the simple strategy “We win, they lose”—a strategy which, I might note, the cognizant in both Washington and London tittered upon hearing as being unlettered, philistine, and not understanding nuance. Yet it proved a principled insight in a way that far surpassed prior approaches.

Most recently, our countries have found ourselves fighting alongside each other again, this time on the front lines in the war against radical Islamic terrorists. We’ve seen brutal terrorists attack on our own soil and on British soil. We have seen radicalized citizens of both nations travel to the Middle East to join terrorist groups like ISIS.

In a stark demonstration of how closely we’re aligned, when ISIS began its vicious rampage of staged beheadings this summer, the first victim was an American, Jonathan Foley, and the second was Steven Sotloff, a dual Israeli–American citizen, and the third was British—David Haines.

In addition, one of the most recent victims, the photojournalist Luke Somers, was a dual U.S.–U.K. citizen. His al-Qaeda captors didn’t make a distinction between our countries when they shot him during a rescue attempt last Saturday. For them, all representatives of free and tolerant societies are equally abhorrent—a fact that makes today a critical opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to our shared interests and values as we continue partnering with the U.K. in this fight against this vicious enemy.

Part of this partnership is securing our mutual economic prosperity, and one initiative in particular that has been raised here by The Heritage Foundation is noteworthy: a free trade deal with the U.K. should it choose to leave the European Union after the projected 2017 referendum. While the U.S. continues to pursue the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the EU, the lengthy and cumbersome process to negotiate this agreement—not to mention the possibility that the world’s sixth largest economy would be left out if the U.K. opts out of the EU—suggests we should also be looking for other opportunities to pursue free trade agreements.

As Nile Gardner and Theodore Bromund here at Heritage have both argued, such an agreement between the U.S. and the U.K. would be an opportunity to mutually deregulate our economies—in contrast to the TTIP, which is proving an exercise in “harmonizing” regulations. As we have discovered in Texas, deregulation is a powerful, liberating economic force that can lead to significant economic growth—something Lady Thatcher understood all too well.

Such an agreement can also be an aspirational model for other nations, encouraging them to look to bedrock principles of conservatism and individual liberty, of chaining government and freeing free men and women, that have made the United Kingdom and the United States such powerful forces for good across the globe.

The Enemies We Face

I’d now like to shift gears for a minute and look at some of the enemies we face across the globe before returning the final portion of my remarks to our many friends. In particular, I’d like to focus on how recent attempts to deal with long-standing enemies, notably Russia and Iran, have backfired on the Obama Administration, which ironically had prided itself on its unique ability to restore America’s reputation abroad.

One significant element of this policy has been the imposition of distance between America and our traditional allies, apparently in the hopes that Russia and Iran would see an opportunity to get closer to America if we were no longer prioritizing our “special relationships.” So, for example, one of President Obama’s very first acts after he was inaugurated was to return a bronze bust of Winston Churchill that had been on loan to the White House from British authorities. They offered to extend the loan, but apparently Churchill was no longer welcome in the Oval Office.

Another significant element has been the wholesale abdication of any moral high ground previously claimed by the United States and our free allies—with particular eloquence by Reagan and Thatcher. In the Obama–Clinton foreign policy, all members of the international community are equal, be they nations or not, and should be dealt with respectfully and with empathy.

Let me be very clear: When it comes to radical Islamic terrorists who are crucifying Christians, who are beheading children, what our foreign policy needs is not additional empathy. It needs clarity and force and resolve to defend the United States of America.

The disastrous Russian “reset” is a case in point. After Vladimir Putin invaded neighboring Georgia in 2008, the incoming Obama Administration argued that their new approach would tame the Russian bear. They knew better. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton travelled to Geneva armed with a red reset button to emblemize the new approach: The U.S. and Russia would move beyond Russia’s violent aggression towards a smaller neighbor and would work on pressing issues such as a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty—even while Russian tanks and soldiers occupied (and continue to occupy) sovereign Georgian territory.

In an ironic demonstration of how poorly the Obama Administration understood the Russians, the word “reset” was mistranslated on Clinton’s reset button, which said “overload” instead. At times, they spoke truth without even realizing it.

The United States offered additional concessions such as the cancellation of the missile defense batteries for Poland and the Czech Republic and the lame-duck passage of a New START Treaty that disproportionately limits our ability to deploy missile defenses. President Obama even promised Putin’s henchman Dimitri Medvedev that he would have “greater flexibility” to make still more concessions after his 2012 reelection.

Pause for a moment: Can you imagine President Reagan, can you imagine Lady Thatcher uttering such words?

But all of this outreach was to no avail as Putin assessed, rightly, it to be a demonstration of weakness. One year ago, the Russian strongman was preparing not only to host the Olympic Games at Sochi, but also to respond to the audacity of the Ukrainian people, who had stood up against his attempts to reintegrate them forcibly into Russia’s sphere of influence and who had demanded freedom and greater ties to the West, to Europe and to America.

As President Obama pleaded for a restoration of calm, Putin moved in. He annexed the Crimean peninsula. He supplied heavy arms and reinforcements to the pro-Russian elements in eastern Ukraine, provoking heavy fighting and a significant loss of life—notably the destruction of a civilian passenger plane, Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, with a Russian Buk missile.

The sanctions proposed by the Administration have had no discernable effect. Indeed, when they were rolled out, the Russian stock market went up because their effect was so negligible. The pleas that Putin accept a “diplomatic off-ramp” or adhere to international law have fallen on deaf ears.

Few things sum up how badly the Obama–Clinton foreign policy misunderstands Mr. Putin better than President Obama’s comments when Russia invaded Crimea: “It seems his lawyers are telling him something different than what my lawyers are telling me.” Talk about fundamentally misunderstanding the situation. It was not a disagreement in legal interpretation. It was a strong man exercising brute power because he perceived America to be weak.

In a speech here at Heritage a little less than a year ago on Ukraine and Russia, I suggested there were two things we could do to counter Putin, including immediately ordering the installation of the cancelled missile defense batteries for Poland and the Czech Republic and looking into how we could counter Putin’s use of energy as a tool for blackmail with the new resources, the shale revolution we’re experiencing here in America. Both of these initiatives would have taken some time to implement, but we have wasted almost a year with no progress on either, and both of them should still be explored.

Obama v. Putin: A Pattern of Weakness

Given Putin’s behavior over this period, we might want to consider additional actions, such as investigating options to get America out of the New START Treaty that is restricting our options while doing nothing to modify Russia’s bad behavior.

We should also step up and provide lethal aid to our Ukrainian allies. When President Petro Poroshenko addressed Congress in September, he made a compelling case for that assistance. He told us that he could not fight Russian tanks and missiles with blankets alone. I would note my colleagues in Congress, in both parties, in both houses, repeatedly stood to our feet to applaud the notion that America would stand with the Ukrainian people, not just with empty promises and empty blankets, but with a resolve to honor the treaty commitments we have to stand with Ukraine.

I was pleased to co-sponsor S. 2828 with a bipartisan group of my colleagues that would authorize anti-tank and anti-armor weapons, among other resources, the purpose of which would be to allow Ukraine to defend its territorial integrity: not to engage in aggression with other nations, simply to defend itself against Russian aggression. Yet the stated policy of the Obama Administration remains to withhold the help on the grounds that it might provoke Russia.

With all due respect, I think Russia has already been provoked: Weakness is provocative. Russia was provoked by the weakness demonstrated by the Obama Administration’s first term, and I am concerned that we are now missing another unique opportunity to take rigorous action against Putin at a moment when plummeting global oil prices and gas prices may weaken his position further.

My friend and colleague John McCain has a memorable way of describing Russia as a gas station with a country attached. Under Putin, Russia has become a petro-dictatorship almost exclusively dependent on energy for its economic prosperity and international clout. The fall in the price of oil threatens Putin just as it did the Soviets in the 1980s. Putin still faces at least some judgment from his own people, and the 2016 Duma elections may prove a referendum on his ongoing rule. Extended energy production that would undermine Putin’s monopoly combined with robust support for our allies in Europe might well encourage the Russian people to choose a different path.

A Deal with Iran: The Obamacare of the Second Term

A second demonstration of the Obama Administration’s policy of outreach to our enemies concerns the nation of Iran. As with Russia, the President came in with the preconceived notion that Iran could be turned from an enemy to a friend. In his first inaugural, he declared: “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.” Soon thereafter, President Obama clarified in an interview that he was referring to the nation of Iran.

On June 4, 2009, the President travelled to Cairo to proffer the olive branch to Iran, declaring that despite all the hostage taking and terror attacks of the last three decades, Obama offered a fresh start, another reset if you will: “Rather than remain trapped in the past, I have made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward. The question, now, is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.”

Just eight days later when the Green Revolution erupted over the fraudulent re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian people tried to move forward to a new future, but the President and his then Secretary of State chose not to back the protesters agitating for democratic reforms. They let the Green Revolution wither as activists crying out for America were shot in the streets.

This failure to act seemed inexplicable at the time, as the liberalization of Iran’s theocratic government that frankly declares its intention to destroy America and our allies while pursuing nuclear weapons capability and serves as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism would seem a no-brainer. Here’s a hint: If a nation calls you the Great Satan, it ain’t good.

With the benefit of hindsight, the choice to remain silent seems even more bizarre. Supporting a democratic, secular Iran and the opposition might well have alleviated many of the regional challenges we face today, from the violence provoked by the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah to the devastation wrought by the rogue regime of Syrian strongman Bashir al-Assad, all of whom are supported by Iran.

But the Obama Administration had something else in mind, as was revealed with remarkable candor by Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes last January when he declared that an Iran deal is “the biggest thing Obama will do in his second term on foreign policy…. [T]his is health care for us.” Pause for a second and let that sink in: According to the Deputy National Security Advisor to the President, cutting a deal with Iran is going to be the Obamacare of the second term.

It’s difficult to imagine something more dangerous. Just as Obamacare, the “signature” achievement of the first term, was designed to fundamentally remake our economy here at home, so an Iranian nuclear deal, foreseen as the signature achievement of the second term, would fundamentally transform America’s global posture from the leader of the free world to a dutiful and subservient member of the international community.

As it turns out, the Administration’s myopic focus on negotiating an Iran deal—even a terrible Iran deal—blinded them to other threats, notably Putin preparing to invade Ukraine and the threat of ISIS in Syria, both of which were gathering at the time Mr. Rhodes made these remarks and have been allowed to rampage, largely unchecked, through 2014. At the same time, President Obama has made concession after concession to the Iranian regime to keep them at the negotiating table. Iran has received billions of dollars in economic relief not only under the original Joint Plan of Action, but also under two subsequent extensions when the negotiations failed to reach a deal.

Meanwhile, no centrifuges have been dismantled. No enriched uranium has left Iran. Their ICBM program, which isn’t even a part of the negotiations, continues unchecked. And, it might be noted, Iran is not developing an ICBM program in order to launch telecom satellites into orbit. The ICBM program of Iran exists for one purpose and one purpose only, and that is to carry weapons of mass destruction to America and to our allies and to murder potentially millions of Americans. There are frequent reports of Iran’s cheating even under the weak terms of the JPA, most recently allegations that Iran is purchasing more equipment for its heavy water reactor at Arak, which could produce plutonium for a nuclear bomb.

Iran continues to abuse the American citizens it has unjustly detained—most notably Pastor Saeed Abedini and Amir Hekmati. Robert Levinson remains unaccounted for, and just days before the most recent extension of negotiations was announced, Tehran announced another extension—this time of the jail sentence for Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian on “unspecified charges” against the Iranian regime.

I say to our friends here in the Fourth Estate: What does it say that the government is happily negotiating with the Iranian mullahs while allowing an American journalist to stay in the squalor of an Iranian prison? What does it say of the values and strength of this Administration?

It is beyond time to recognize that the Administration’s Iran policy is a dismal failure—the single greatest threat to U.S. national security we face today. And it is time to start treating Iran’s leaders like the enemies they are, while making it clear to the Iranian people that there is a pathway to better relations with the United States. In fact, we have right now a significant opportunity to re-exert pressure on Iran. As with Putin, even with the relaxation of economic sanctions under the JPA, plummeting global oil prices threaten Iran’s still-fragile economy.

Rather than extension after extension after extension of negotiations and relaxations of sanctions, now would be an opportune moment to set a new course. We should declare the nuclear negotiations a failure and move instead to reimpose sanctions right now and make them all the more crippling. We can make clear how those sanctions might be relieved.

I filed legislation that would do precisely that: reimpose sanctions, strengthen them, and then lay out a clear path to lifting those sanctions. That path would involve Iran dismantling all 19,000 centrifuges, handing over all of its enriched uranium, dismantling its ICBM program, and stopping being the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. With leaders like Khomeini and the mullahs in Iran, we need more stick and a whole lot less carrot.

Revitalizing America’s Friendships

At the same time that we stand with resolve against nations like Russia and Iran, we need to strengthen and revitalize our friendships and alliances across the globe. I want to finish these remarks today by talking briefly about those friendships once again.

Nothing would inconvenience the Islamic Republic of Iran more than a reaffirmation of the Israeli–American alliance as unshakable and a cornerstone of our Middle East policy. While it’s true that Israel is in a tough neighborhood and faces unique security challenges, it’s also true that Iran has problems of its own. ISIS is a far closer and more proximate threat to Iran than to much of the rest of the world. Hamas in Gaza and Assad in Syria are both weakened by their respective wars. An Israel robustly and unambiguously supported by the United States would be in a position not just to defend herself, but also to press these advantages and to increase the pressure on Iran to modify its behavior.

One important way we could achieve this would be to reject the supposed moral equivalence between the Israelis and Palestinian terrorists that has at times been embraced by the Obama Administration. In recent days, there have been disturbing reports that the White House was considering economic sanctions against Israel in retaliation for what it views as settlement activity in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem—reports that for several days the Administration refused to acknowledge before belatedly and halfheartedly disagreeing with those allegations.

It’s difficult to imagine a more complete and stunning indictment of the Obama–Clinton foreign policy than the notion that they might believe we should be sanctioning the nation of Israel and lifting sanctions on the nation of Iran. Truly, along with Alice, we have gone through the looking glass. In addition, the Administration has let it be known that if language is properly “softened,” it may not automatically block a Palestinian bid for a Security Council resolution demanding that Israel withdraw to the untenable 1967 lines.

For those concerned about the friendship of Israel, think for a second what this Administration is saying: that no longer, if the Obama Administration continues on this path, can America be counted on to stand in the Security Council against efforts to undermine the nation of Israel. That is profoundly dangerous.

I was therefore particularly pleased that just yesterday, the Senate unanimously passed S. Con. Res. 107, which I authored, which condemns the use of civilians as human shields by Hamas and condemns it as a war crime. This is a bi-partisan piece of legislation that was co-sponsored in the Senate by my Democratic colleagues Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) and Joe Manchin (WV) and passed the United States Senate yesterday 100 to nothing. We are hopeful and optimistic that the House counterpart, led by Republican Iliana Ros-Lehtinen (FL) and Democrat Ted Deutch (FL) will pass this week.

Again and again during the Gaza operation, the world condemned Israel, not Hamas, for the loss of civilian lives. Even some of our closest allies joined the chorus, predictably led by the United Nations Human Rights Council, which voted last July to form a commission of inquiry not into what Hamas did, but into Israel’s actions defending itself from rockets and terror-tunnels designed to kidnap and murder children.

The U.N. Human Rights Council has failed yet again to draw any distinction between Israel’s acts of self-defense and the terrorist aggression of Hamas. But my colleagues and I—all 100 members of the United States Senate—understand that the use of human shields by Hamas makes this distinction crystal clear. As Prime Minister Netanyahu so powerfully put it, “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”

Would that we had such clarity from the current Administration in America.

That quote leads me to one of the most productive of U.S.–Israeli collaborations, which is in the field of missile defense. One of the least objectionable things about the National Defense Authorization Act that is on the Senate floor this week is the ongoing funding for the Israeli defense systems, starting with the Iron Dome that proved so effective against Hamas’s rockets this year.

In addition, we need to continue to partner on the systems to counter longer-range missiles, notably David’s Sling and Arrow 2&3, which will protect Israel from Iran’s weapons and could well prove a game changer of the sort that President Reagan’s original brain child, the Strategic Defense Initiative, proved to be against the Soviets. As Reagan later recalled:

I called a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—our military leaders—and I said to them: Every offensive weapon ever invented by man has resulted in the creation of a defense against it; isn’t it possible in this age of technology that we could invent a defensive weapon that could intercept nuclear weapons and destroy them as they emerged from their silos?...

So SDI was born, and very shortly some in Congress and the press named it “Star Wars.”

If I had to choose the most important reason, on the United States’ side, for the historic breakthroughs that were to occur during the next five years in the quest for peace and a better relationship with the Soviet Union, I would say the Strategic Defense Initiative, along with the overall modernization of our military force and the revival of U.S. economic power, would be front and center. Just as the combination of economic pressure and the pressure to keep up with SDI brought down the USSR, so a modern version of this policy, implemented in concert with Israel, might achieve similar results against Iran.

The good news is that Great Britain and Israel are only two of the many friends the United States has around the world who have no interest in exchanging our alliance for one with a totalitarian alternative. Our friends in Asia, from India to South Korea to Japan to Taiwan, have resolved to resist the concerted campaign of territorial expansion by the People’s Republic of China. We also have significant trade opportunities in Asia, from the bilateral investment treaty we have been negotiating with India for 10 years to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The tiny Baltic nations—all NATO allies—have maintained their independence and are actively seeking to increase their westward rather than eastern integration. Energy partnerships, particularly in liquefied natural gas, have formed a significant part of this effort, and the United States should move aggressively to support them.

I would note that this last May, when I traveled to Ukraine and Poland and Estonia as well as the nation of Israel, in all four nations our friends and allies said the same thing: They would grab you by the shoulder, and they would say, “Where is America?” When America recedes from the world, the world is more dangerous. We need America as the one indispensable nation.

In our own hemisphere, our neighbor, the nation of Mexico, is emerging as a partner in the energy renaissance that can make North America finally energy independent. We can also work with Mexico both to secure our southern border and to help combat the corruption and drug trade that is undermining rule of law in Mexico and hampering their attempts to build a prosperous middle class. This is just waiting to happen.

Many of us have seen the satellite photo of the Korean peninsula. That satellite photo shows South Korea lit up at night with prosperity, with abundance, and then the line marking South and North Korea, drawn like a finger from the hand of God, and above that line, darkness—the consequences of totalitarianism and Communism and oppression. I would note there is a similar comparison. If one looks at a satellite photograph of South Texas and Mexico, the Eagle Ford Shale that has produced abundant energy and jobs and prosperity in South Texas extends well beyond the Rio Grande, and yet the jobs don’t.

I have that satellite photograph here, and one can see, like the line cutting across, a river that should not otherwise be visible at night—but it is, for the simple reason that Mexico’s legal system has not created an environment that has encouraged and allowed the development of their natural resources. I’m encouraged that the new government in Mexico is reforming their laws and constitution to enable them to work hand in hand in partnership with us to develop those resources and to strengthen our friendship.

I could go on, but this list is meant to be illustrative rather than encyclopedic, the point being that these opportunities are still ours for the taking. It is high time we started taking yes for an answer with our friends.

In my travels this year, I have seen over and over again a palpable sense of puzzlement from our allies—notably from the Poles, alarmed by the cancellation of missile defense batteries proposed for Poland and the Czech Republic, to the Canadians, mystified by the failure to approve the Keystone Pipeline. Politely but urgently, our allies try to explain why these projects are so important to them, not only for practical and immediate security and economic interests, but also as important, tangible demonstrations of their connections to America.

The missile defense for Eastern Europe was originally planned to guard against Iran’s ICBM program, but it could also send a powerful signal to Putin’s Russia that the United States remained actively engaged in the defense of our allies in the region and may well have deterred him from acting so aggressively towards them. Likewise, the Keystone Pipeline would and should serve as a vital artery of energy and jobs and prosperity between the United States and Canada, embodying our mutual commitment to North American security and prosperity.

While both of these projects are desirable, we should not fall into the trap of thinking that installing one set of missile defense batteries or approving one pipeline would immediately solve all the world’s ills. Both were conceived years ago, and we should also look at next steps, such as what a serious and sustained long-term investment in a multilayered missile defense system, both for us here at home and for our allies abroad, would look like. In terms of energy, it would mean bringing together all the extraordinary new resources that have been tapped in the American energy renaissance to unlock a bright future by America and our allies, not dependent on nations like Russia or Iran or Venezuela.

These are both projects I look forward to tackling when the 114th Congress reconvenes in January, and I hope that my colleagues across the aisle will understand that these should not be partisan initiatives: They are commonsense policies that will contribute materially both to our prosperity here at home and to our security abroad as they cement our vital alliances and send a clear signal to our enemies that the Obama Administration’s policy of appeasement and moral equivalence is at an end.

The Reagan–Thatcher Legacy

Finally, in a 2002 speech celebrating President Reagan’s legacy, Lady Thatcher paid a powerful tribute to his commitment to liberty and his understanding of America’s unique role in defending it. The intervening 12 years have proven her prescience, and I would like to conclude with her observations that could have been made this very day:

America today is not just the only global superpower. She enjoys a superiority over any other power or combination of powers greater than any nation in modern times. This also places on her shoulders an awesome responsibility. For the United States, as for any country, national interest must come first—and without apology. But America’s interests are so vast that no region lies beyond them. This … has three implications—each full of significance for the future….
First, America must remain strong. She must again, as under Ronald Reagan, rebuild, reshape and modernize her defenses.
The second implication is that America needs trustworthy allies in every region. America is mighty, but no democracy will tolerate becoming the whole world’s policeman. My advice is: pick your allies wisely, support and reassure them—and then insist that they fulfill their promises and commit their resources.
Third … particularly in times like these … the Leader of the Free World must be seen by your friends and foes alike to speak with unqualified authority. The world … respects America more when it knows that the promises and warnings of the US Commander in Chief are endorsed by the other main organs of elected government. That message is powerful politics—and it has the still greater merit of being true.

Then as now, we should heed the words of Lady Thatcher. We should embrace peace through strength, we should stand by our friends, and we should defend the values of the United States of America.

—The Honorable Ted Cruz represents Texas in the United States Senate, where he serves on the Armed Services; Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Judiciary; and Rules and Administration Committees. He serves as Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness, and as Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Oversight, Agency Action, Federal Rights and Federal Courts.

About the Author

Related Issues: Alliances

Show references in this report

[1] Nile Gardiner, Director of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, at The Heritage Foundation.