By Nancy Thorner –
Sponsored by the Young American Foundation and the College Republican Organization of Northwestern University, former Senator Rick Santorum was engaged as the Fall speaker by the Northwestern College Republican Organization on Wednesday, November 19. His topic, “America’s Defense.” Santorum served eight years on the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he led the fight before the attacks of
September 11th, 2001 to transform our military from a Cold War force to meet current threats.
Introduced by the president of the Northwestern College Republican Organization, it was obvious that those in attendance were eager to hear what Santorum had to say. By the same token, Santorum expressed his fondness for engaging with students. Having run for president in 2012, Santorum noted how only one out of 22 candidate debates dealt with national security. National Security was just not a big issue in 2012, unlike it was in the recent election.
Given the disastrous election results suffered by Democrats in most of the states, are Democrats open to learning from the past so their foreign policy can be forward looking? This nation became a super power after WW II. She is still the lone super power left in the world, but for how long?
Senator Santorum outlined five lessons learned from past conflicts that must apply to future engagements. All are applicable to both parties, as defense should not be a partisan issue.
Lesson one: Democratic Capitalism as a World Model?
It was 25 years ago this month when the Berlin Wall fell. Some thought this event signified the end of history and that the world was heading in a different direction. Socialism and authoritarian had lost. “Democratic Capitalism” would reign as the world model. Russia found out on its own that its economic system couldn’t support defense ambitions. China had to move into the 20th century by adopting capitalistic principles. Democratic Capitalism, however, applies to more than just adopting capitalistic measures. It can’t be forced upon countries. Democratic Capitalism occurs when capitalism is felt by a large segment of the people. Dissatisfaction develops when people don’t believe capitalism is working for them. Democratic Capitalism, when working well, provides a strong economy to support and provide a quality of life its citizens. Here is America blue collar conservatives, and all working men and women, must experience some economic benefits to believe that the system is working.
Lesson two: “Peace Through Strength”
This was the watchword of President Reagan’s presidency. As such, strength of power was an important deterrent against enemy aggression. Weakness only encourages bad behavior from those who wish us harm. This nation must send out a signal to the world that she is still strong. But how to do so, when General James Dempsey remarked how our military is so underfunded it would be immoral to fight a war? Also, America has not committed the revenue necessary to keep a strong military. China, Russia, and Iran are sensing America’s inability to deter, making us more venerable to foreign strength and power. It is imperative that we reengage and better fund our military.
Lesson three: Understand the Threat and Define it
Public opinion does matter. The President is either deterred or encouraged to act through public opinion. Support to re-engage in Iraq was not there until the public was appalled by the beheadings. It was only then that Obama took action. Rick Santorum doesn’t see the White House responding in any meaningful way to defeat the Islamic terrorists in Iraq or Syria. What is needed above all is for our leaders to adequately define the threat. There was no problem when defining the enemy in WW II as Nazi aggression or Communism. Because of today’s political correctness, threats can no longer be defined, nor can the nature of the enemy.
“Terrorist” alone doesn’t cut it, unless we use “Islamic” in conjunction with “terrorist”, for we are fighting “Islamic terrorists,” Santorum said.
Winning a war is impossible unless we can define the terrorists and what they are trying to accomplish. We see none of this from the Obama administration, where confusion existed after the Oklahoma beheading of Colleen Hufford, a 54-year-old grandmother and worker at Vaughan Foods in Moore, Oklahoma. Was it terrorism or workplace violence, even though co-workers in interviews said the suspect, Alton Nolen, 30, tried to convert them to Islam.
Regarding the 2009 Ft. Hood shooting, Muslim or Islam were never mentioned in the indictment of Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army major and psychiatrist, who fatally shot 13 people and injured more than 30 others in what has been labeled as workplace violence. We are not facing a new threat, but a resurgence of a threat that we thought had been subdued. It is folly to believe that Iran is doing anything other than working to develop a nuclear weapon. Iran has ballistic rockets. The only purpose they have is to carry nuclear war heads, yet the Obama administration believes that through diplomacy Iran will end its nuclear program.
Lesson four: Plan to be successful
We are presently engaged with fighting ISIS. After the American public saw the brutal beheadings, it wanted the President to do something. What President Obama failed to do is to lay out a plan for success. Is this administration really serious about winning the war? Consider the number of sorties flown every day. In the Gulf War it was 800 a day; in the 2nd Gulf War, 1,000; and in the present confrontation, it’s between 2 and 5. This is no way to run a successful foreign policy program. Victory must be the end goal.
Lesson five: If America doesn’t lead, who else will?
Mark Steyn in his book, America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It, points out how demographic trends in Europe point to Muslims, in time, taking over Europe because of the sheer number of Muslims living in European nation fostered by continuing high birth rates. European countries are not engaged in countering this critical problem which threatens their existence, because as sovereign nations they are more concerned with their own survival than in protecting their own interests. There is only one country that can stand up to evil. It is America. America is still in a unique position in the world. She can still lead because of her military might and economy, but America’s credibility is being eroded. There must be a vision, which necessitates laying out objectives so a plan can be formulated to carry through.
The Question and Answer session that followed was impressive. The students in attendance seemed unusually bright, engaged and well-versed on the political happenings of the day. They listened with respect to Senator Rick Santorum, asking intelligent questions that reflected knowledge way beyond what is known by a majority of the American people. Hearing the students engage with Senator Santorum gave me some hope that this nation will somehow survive the present assault on its democracy and the rule of law.
Question 1: The treatment of Hamas as a legitimate government?
Response: Democracies don’t happen overnight. It is wrong to believe that this nation can go into a country and everyone will desire to live as we do in a democracy. It makes no sense that we continue to give money to those who practice terrorism and who threaten the existence of Israel. Iran is the biggest threat to Israel. Once Iran has the nuclear bomb, it will not hesitate to wipe out the state of Israel. An easy achievement, as Israel can be wiped out by a single nuclear weapon. President Obama has done more to advance Iran’s nuclear power than anyone else. Obama is desperate for a deal with Iran (Might it be to legitimize his Nobel Peace Price?), but when has Iraq ever honored any deal? The one thing that could stop Iran from producing a nuclear weapon is putting pressure on Iran through heavy sanctions. But lo and behold, when things starting getting bad for the Iranian people because the sanctions were working, this nation agreed to hold joint negotiations with Iran, buying more time for Iran to develop a nuclear bomb. Santorum fears greatly for the State of Israel. It looks like Israel will have to defend itself.
Question 2: Are you considering a run for president in 2016?
Response: Santorum responded in the affirmative. He is exploring the possibility.
Question 3: Will your pro-life position be held against you?
Rick Santorum reminded students that they are more pro-life than their parents. Your parents could have said “I don’t want you and you wouldn’t be here.” You are also a very visual generation and have seen a baby in the womb. It looks like baby, not just like a blob of flesh. All of us have the opportunity to make our case, and this is how it should be. The debate should be made in the public square, but so often the will of the people is denied and instead a court determines the outcome. Debates used to be two way street, but not any longer. “If I disagree with you it is because I must hate you, I’m intolerant, or a bigot, which is a huge infringement on Freedom of Speech.” We must be tolerant of differences of opinion, but there must be debate. It is encouraging that 50 years after Roe vs. Wade debate is still warranted.
Question 4: Is Climate Change a Threat to National Security?
Response: During a recent visit to China, President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a landmark climate change agreement. President Obama touted the agreement as a major climate victory, but how can it be a victory when China is not committed to anything? What we offered to do would have no effect on climate change, but it would instead lower the standard of living and raise the cost of purchased goods. If the solution set forth doesn’t solve the problem, why then are we doing it? Let’s have a debate to allow those who ascribe to climate change the ability to state just how climate change threatens national security.
Question 5: What must Republican do to win in 2016?
Response: Republicans won in November not because they had any real solutions, but because Democrats were so bad on the economy and national security. The solutions offered by Democrats to issues were for more government intervention and increased spending. Regarding Republicans in 2016, they can’t continue to run on their usual themes of balancing the budget, cutting taxes, and cutting programs. Republicans need a more positive message that will offer solutions that resonate with the American people. What Republicans haven’t yet realized is that their usual message is met with tone deafness in Middle America. Republicans must present a message of pro-growth and pro-work. Opportunities must be created for all Americans, remembering that 70% of the American people don’t hold college degrees. Working Americans have been hurt during the past eight years as medium incomes have decreased. With President Obama’s illegal Executive Order granting 4 -5 million undocumented immigrants Social Security numbers and work permits, there will be 5 million more individuals available to take the same jobs now held by others. Hispanics here legally are going to see their wages crumble. Blacks will also hurt in the job market. Most Americans don’t realize that every year 1.1 million immigrants are legally granted permission to come to America. If a Republican president is elected in 2016, anti-business and other crippling legislation must be repealed. The same for Obamacare. A sensible energy policy must also be set forth.
Hopefully the Republican controlled Senate and House before 2016 will show some spine in confronting Obama in his determination to enact climate change measures and bi-pass Congress on immigration policy that if allowed to stand unchallenged will harm the American people and this nation. Since Obama has nothing to lose as he is not on the ballot in 2016, it is certain that he will use his final two years in office to push agenda items through Executive fiat that he couldn’t move legislatively during his prior six years Someone must fight for the American worker. Let it be the Republican Party!
*This disclaimer preceded the introduction of Rick Santorum: “The thoughts expressed by Rick Santorum are not to be viewed as representing the views of Northwestern. Nevertheless, a visitor is entitled to speak without interruption, as Northwestern honors the sanctity of free speech and upholds the value of civility.” Both were honored by the students. Following Santorum’s remarks, many students gathered around him to get a chance for further interaction.