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Washington, DC—Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate, spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the terrorist attack in New York this morning. In doing so, he also outlined a robust foreign policy agenda to help correct the mistakes of previous administrations and restore trust in American leadership abroad.

Via YouTube

“This morning’s terrorist attack reminded all of us that danger is never far from our nation’s shores. While details about the bombing in New York are still emerging, we already know one thing for certain: This was an attack not only on the American people but on the principles we stand for. It was an attack on freedom and our very way of life.

The violence we witnessed this morning stands as a stark reminder that America has many enemies. Overseas, animosity towards the United States grows stronger as the world grows ever more chaotic. And so this afternoon, Mme. President, I wish to speak on America’s role in these turbulent times.

As the Trump administration works to return our country back to its rightful role as the leader of a broken world, you will find my foreign policy recommendations today to be not only intrinsically American, but also inherently good.’”

 

Hatch’s full remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

Via YouTube 

Mme. President, before I turn to the main portion of my remarks, I would be remiss if I failed to recognize two staffers who were instrumental in helping us pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act earlier this month.  James Williams, my Senior Policy Advisor, and Nick Clason, a talented young staffer, both worked long hours to help make tax reform a reality. I wanted to take just a brief moment to recognize them for the late nights they spent helping me hash out the details of this bill. They are some of the hardest-working members of my staff, and I hope they know how much I appreciate them.

Now, Mme. President, I wish to turn to a subject of great importance to our national security. This morning’s terrorist attack reminded all of us that danger is never far away from our nation’s shores. While details about the bombing in New York are still emerging, we already know one thing for certain: This was an attack not only on the American people but on the principles we stand for. It was an attack on freedom and our very way of life. 

The violence we witnessed this morning stands as a stark reminder that America has many enemies. Overseas, animosity towards the United States grows stronger as the world grows ever more chaotic. And so today, Mme. President, I wish to speak on America’s role in these turbulent times. 

As the Trump administration works to return our country back to its rightful role as the leader of a broken world, you will find my foreign policy recommendations today to be not only intrinsically American, but also inherently good. 

My solution to the chaos that now grips the world is the simple principle articulated by President Reagan over thirty years ago in his Evil Empire speech. Addressing the National Association of Evangelicals, he said these words: “America is good. And if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

Mme. President, to be sure, we find ourselves in a world very different from that which President Reagan faced. Today, the structured diplomatic environment we once operated in has come into question with the fall of local governments in much of the Middle East. Global alliances, while strong in the commitments and connectivity among member nations, are weak in direction and long-term purpose. Political narratives of states—once stable and predictable—must today compete with the conversations being had on the streets and in the classrooms by those with access to mobile phones and social media.

Since Reagan’s time, the world has not only grown more complicated but also more dangerous. The threat of state-on-state military showdowns seems imminent—particularly with North Korea and Iran. Where we have achieved military successes we remain reluctant to declare victory, as is the case with ISIS. And to deal with the most intractable issues, such as the conflicts in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq, we seem to rely on partner nations who often work at cross purposes with our own objectives.

And how has the United States engaged with this chaos? Well, in many cases, President Obama sought to ignore it altogether. Indeed, if his foreign policy could be boiled down to two words, they would be these: Stay out. The Obama administration spent the better part of eight years making disengagement a cornerstone of American foreign policy, captured by the euphemism offshore balancing—in other words, deferring to local actors to manage regional problems. 

The Obama doctrine offered easy answers to complex problems. But easy answers are rarely the right answers. And a gradual US withdrawal from an increasingly chaotic world under President Obama only made matters worse. And so, thanks to the hands-off approach of his predecessor, President Trump inherited a truly unprecedented state of world disorder.

Despite these great challenges, our ability to achieve good in the world has not diminished. But if we are to achieve good in the world—if we are to restore peace and stability in these troubled times—then we must first rediscover our purpose in global affairs. We must make an honest assessment of where we have gone wrong in the past and how we can improve in the future.

In our engagement with the world, we seem to have drifted far from how we used to do things.

The foreign policy of President Obama, for example, chose to transact in one of two words: threats and interests. How big is the threat to national security that ISIS or a nuclear Iran poses? What is the US interest in Syria? How do we preserve American security and interests in the South Pacific? Under this myopic approach, anything that didn’t fit neatly into either a threat or interest was of little importance. The foreign policy of the Obama years put the United States in a short-term responsive mode, with little capacity to ask about the future.

Rediscovering our purpose in the world requires us to look beyond mere considerations of threats and interests. It requires us to reconnect with our core values by making them central to our foreign policy. Foremost among those values is promoting freedom. Freedom is what we stand for as a nation. As President Reagan said, “America is freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise. And freedom is special and rare. It’s fragile; it needs protection.”

President Bush carried this tradition, squarely identifying the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks as enemies of freedom. And as he keenly observed, what divided the United States from its adversaries was not faith, skin color, gender, or race, but hatred of America and the freedoms it stands for.  

And President Bush did not mince words in describing exactly who our enemy was. Following the 9/11 attacks, he described those who committed the attacks as belonging to “a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics, a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam.” In his use of the phrase Islamic extremism, President Bush was not afraid to call the enemy by its name—and neither were our Muslim allies who joined us in the fight against terrorism. 

But in the name of political correctness, President Obama refused to use the words Islamic extremism, insisting instead on the vague expression violent extremism. This small but consequential change caused deep conceptual and bureaucratic damage to our strategy and our institutions.

Not only did the Obama administration distract us from gaining understanding of who the adversary is and the tools needed to fight and understand him, but it also deemed irrelevant once-successful government programs on the grounds that they did not adequately address this Beltway term of violent extremism. Meanwhile, jihadist groups outpaced and outmaneuvered Obama’s sophistry by strategically embedding themselves within local populations in Syria and Iraq, disguising themselves as moderate and protective of local populations.

Mme. President, in place of the feckless foreign policy of the Obama years, I offer instead a global policy defined by one word: Purpose. With purpose, we can look to the future and address the kind of legacy we hope to leave behind. With purpose, we can define what it is we seek to achieve in the world, where we can make a difference, and how we can effect lasting change on a global scale.

Rediscovering our purpose in global affairs doesn’t mean giving up our focus on threats and interests. Quite the opposite; it means ensuring that the way in which we address threats and interests helps us achieve our ultimate goal—that of ensuring freedom in the world.

Today’s world offers many opportunities to act with renewed purpose in the defense of freedom. In Syria, for example, a collapsing ISIS caliphate and a bloody civil war leave a traumatized population in their wake. While a political solution for all of Syria seems remote, we can work towards meaningful goals in the near-term to help resettle internally displaced persons. Although much of the country remains at war, we should focus on helping the most vulnerable populations within these pockets of promise—those neighborhoods in northwest Syria and along the Jordanian and Israeli borders. Within these pockets of promise, we can change people’s lives—and ultimately, the region—by working with our local partners to build hospitals and schools with modern curricula.

In Iran, too, we can make a difference. The President’s recent decision to decertify the Iran deal was itself a step in the right direction. The Iran deal singlehandedly gave international legitimacy to an enemy regime openly committed to the destruction of the United States and its allies. The deal was indeed a bad one; its only achievement, if it can be called such, was deferring the question of when, not whether, Iran will be able to achieve a nuclear weapon. And it only hardened the hostile voices against the United States, allowing them to build a case that those who oppose the deal are enemies of the Iranian people. This assertion is plainly false. As the President noted in his address to the United Nations, the good people of Iran want change, and they are the regime’s longest-suffering victims.

The President now has the opportunity to act with renewed purpose in the region, dealing a final blow to the Ayatollah’s antics. Moving forward, as we leverage military strength to disrupt the regime’s hostile activities around the world, we can also actively use diplomatic channels to support the wishes of the Iranian people—to promote their freedoms, and to help them realize the opportunities their government denies them.

Meanwhile, in North Korea, as we prepare for any scenario that might await us, we must acknowledge our ultimate strategic advantage—our allies. The greatest threat to Kim Jong-Un is that he is completely isolated from his neighbors and his people. 

As we seek diplomatic approaches to deescalating the tensions, we must ensure that it is the right kind of diplomacy with the right message: a message about the future of the region, and the future of a new North Korea in that region. If Mr. Kim does not realize the need to change his ways, then certainly he will get that message when he sees the might of his neighbors working with the United States towards shared objectives. That is the power of alliances, of strong and loyal partnerships.

But even as we resolve to do good in these situations, we must remain as vigilant and aggressive as ever in meeting the threats that no doubt will continue to test us. The key will be to stand true to ourselves and our allies. That’s what we did when the President recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last week. And that’s what I sought to do in my meetings with Prime Minister Theresa May and MI5 Director General Andrew Parker during my visit to the United Kingdom last month. There, I highlighted the need to pass legislation to enable our two nations to work more closely together in the fight against terror and criminal activity.

We talked about my International Communications Privacy Act, which would create a clear legal framework for law enforcement officials to access data relevant to criminal investigations stored in other countries. We also spoke about legislation to implement the US-UK data-sharing agreement, which would give law enforcement in our two countries reciprocal rights to access data stored in the other country under certain prescribed circumstances. I told the Prime Minister and the Director General that I believe these two pieces of legislation are closely linked and that I am actively looking for vehicles to move them forward.

This is precisely what President Reagan meant when he welcomed Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to Washington upon assuming the presidency: our two countries are “kindred nations of like-minded people, and must face their tests together. [For indeed], the responsibility for freedom is ours to share.”       

Mme. President, it is when America realizes its purpose—to do good in the world by defending freedom—that our greatness will be known. As we bring ourselves out from the margins of international affairs and piece together the broken shards of that world order we have worked for decades to shape, let us help the administration and the country rediscover the purpose we were destined to pursue. Only then, and only together, will we be able to make America and the world great again. 

I yield the floor.