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Senator

Ted Cruz
Annual Helms Lecture: The Vital Role of the Senate in Foreign Policy September 11, 2013

Well, Robert, thank you very, very much. That was extraordinarily powerful. That was moving. That was a powerful testament to Senator Helmss leadership. And I am humbled to be able to join with each of you in working to continue that leadership to join with Senator Jim DeMint who is truly another warrior who followed in the footsteps of Senator Jesse Helms, and in particular was willing and is willing to endure the ridicule of those who will quickly tell you are his intellectual betters while speaking the truth. Heritage has a long and wonderful tradition of speaking the truth, when our so called intellectual betters would rather not be bothered with it. So I am so grateful to be here. I am grateful that each of you are here. And I am grateful to the Heritage Foundation. Today, as all of us know, is Sept 11. 12 years ago, some of yall in the front row may not as clearly remember it as some of the rest of us, but for many of the people in this room well never forget where we were on September 11, 2001. My wife Heidi and I were here living in Washington. We were newlyweds. We working in the Bush administration. And actually Heidi was in the White House, the U.S. trade representatives office, the morning of 9/11. When the first plane hit the first tower in New York, the Secret Service came through the White House and told everyone to stay where you are. We dont know whats happened but stay right where you are. Shortly thereafter the 2nd plane hit. Secret service began sprinting down the hallways, saying Get out now. Run. Dont walk. So Heidi ran out of the White House. You couldnt get the car. Because your car was parked in a garage, they wouldnt let you get the car. So Heidi proceeded to pull off her heels and walk home to Virginia in her bare feet across Memorial Bridge. We lived just south of the Pentagon in Pentagon City, where you could smell the ash and the smoke from that tragic attack. Cell phones werent working that well, so we didnt know exactly what was happening with each other. I am reminded of a dear friend of ours and a dear friend of many of the people in this room was Barb Olson. As we all know Barbara was on that plane that ultimately hit the pentagon. And she managed to call her husband, Ted Olson, and to connect with Ted. He was at the Department of Justice as the U.S. Solicitor General. She was on the phone with him when that plane struck the Pentagon. And her last words, as we understand it, were, Ted, what can we do to stop them? Which, for those of us who knew Barbara, was exactly who she was and what she would be saying and wanting to do. I remember the next night Heidi and I did what so many Americans did, which is we invited friends over for a prayer vigil. And it was an ecumenical prayer vigil. We had friends from different faiths, Christians and Jews. We read scriptures, we sang, and we just prayed for our nation. It was a moment of extraordinary clarity; extraordinary unity for this nation.

Now in the 12 years since, they have decided that the American people shouldnt watch images of that day any more. That those images are too disturbing to appear on television. But you know that day, its interesting to remember that before that day very few people had heard the name Osama bin laden. Very few people in this room knew what Al Qaeda was. On that day radical Islamic terrorists declared war on the United States of America. Now President Obama has told the world that that war is over. With the wind down of hostilities in Iraq, with the draw down in Afghanistan, that Al Qaeda is receding. And yet somehow someone didnt tell the terrorist. That war continues. Those attacks continue. We saw in my home state of Texas in Fort Hood that same evil raise its head and murder thirteen American servicemen and servicewomen. And yet this administration characterizes that not as terrorism but as workplace violence. That wasnt workplace violence; that was radical Islamic terrorism. And were not going to stand up and defeat terrorists who would kill us so long as the president remains unwilling even to utter the words radical Islamic terrorism. We saw it again just this last spring up in Boston, as two home-grown terrorist used pressure cookers to murder civilians. This threat continues and we need the clarity to continue to defend the United States of America. You know, I know if Jesse Helms was still with us he would not shy away from the spotlight. Ill tell you something Robert, that I am certain you dont know. The very first political contribution I made was to Jesse Helms. When I was a kid, I sent ten dollars to Jesse. Because they were beating up on him, they were coming after him hard, and I thought it wasnt right. And at the time my allowance was 50 cents a week, so that was 20 weeks income. I may be willing to venture a guess I am Jesse Helms single largest donor, as a percentage of annual income. But you know theres another story I heard of Jesse Helms when he first ran. That he opened the mail, and out fell a check for $5,000 from John Wayne. This is apparently a true story. And he looked at this check and he didnt know John Wayne. The John Wayne. The address was California. So he decided he was going to call him and thank him for this. So he spent some time trying to track down. And its not easy to figure out. How do you call John Wayne? But he managed to figure out how to do so. And he placed the call. And the Duke answered the phone. And apparently Jesse Helms said, Mr. Wayne, this is Jesse Helms, I just wanted to thank you for your tremendous support in this race. Apparently John Wayne said Who? He said Jesse Helms, I am running for Senate in North Carolina. And apparently Wayne said, Oh yeah, youre that guy saying all those crazy things. We need 100 more like you. The willingness to say all those crazy things is a rare, rare characteristic. And you know what, its every bit as true now as it was thenwe need 100 more, like Jesse Helms. Now, the topic of these remarks today is US foreign policy and the role of the United States Senate. And I think the Senate has a powerful role. A role that we have seen directly in the last few weeks. Now, the topic of these remarks today is U.S. foreign policy and the role of the U.S. Senate. And I think the Senate has a powerful role, a role we have seen in the past few weeks, to focus attention on priorities and to listen to the people.

U.S. foreign policy should be guided by three simple principles. Number one, we should focus directly on protecting U.S. national security and the interest of the United States of America. Number two, we should speak with moral clarity. Number three, we should always fight to win. Those are principles that when the U.S. has followed, have protected the United States of America. And when we have deviated, when we have embraced so-called pie in the sky internationalism things have not worked out well. We think of President Ronald Reagan who had the extraordinary courage to speak the truth. Who had the extraordinary courage to describe the Soviet Union as an evil empire. Marxism, Leninism as a doctrine that would end up being discarded on the ash heap of history. And all of the intelligencia, all of the Democrats, all of the media although I repeat myself all collectively said, What an ignorant cowboy. What an ignorant, uneducated Philistine. Evil Empire? What could possibly be evil about gulags and murdering and torturing your citizens? Youre not nearly sophisticated enough to understand the subtlety. Ill confess to that same lack of sophistication. I think evil tyrants are evil tyrants. And yet, you think about the course of modern history, Ronald Reagan managed something that is truly extraordinary: Ronald Reagan, arm-in-arm with Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul won the Cold War without firing a shot. What an extraordinary legacy that is. In the 1970s, to suggest you could win the Cold War was prima facie evidence of insanity. Youll recall Reagans explanation of his strategy on the Cold War. He said, Its very simple: we win, they lose. Oh, the Academy was horrified. You cant say such a thing! Winning is so stark. We much prefer dtente, which Im pretty sure is the French word for surrender. Our current president won the Nobel Peace Prize. I think for waking up in the morning and brushing his teeth. And I would suggest, if you would look at the last hundred years, it is hard to find someone who more deserved the Nobel Peace Prize than Ronald Wilson Reagan for winning the Cold War. Now I want to talk about these principles as they apply to numerous areas of challenge around the world. What does it mean to focus on our national security and our national interest, to speak with moral clarity, and to always fight to win? And, of course the obvious place to begin is with Syria. All of us have been focused on Syria. And it seems to me well let me say at the outset, I want to commend President Obama for two different things. Number one, I want to commend President Obama for listening to the bipartisan call to submit to the constitutional authority of Congress. That was significant, it was the right thing to do, and Im glad he did so. And secondly, once the issue came to Congress, that gave the American people a chance to speak up. I tell you, Ive spent the last six weeks traveling the state of Texas doing town halls, doing round tables all over the state. It did not matter where in Texas you were. East Texas, West Texas, the Panhandle, down in the Rio Grande Valley, there was almost total unanimity that the United States had no business getting in the middle of a sectarian civil war in Syria. And I tell you, our office in the last several weeks has had over 5,000 calls opposing military intervention in Syria. Weve had roughly fifty in support. In fact, the percentage, I believe, was 99.13% of the calls opposed military intervention. Now, how would you apply those principles to Syria? Because I think the Presidents approach managed to violate all three.

Lets start with moral clarity. Everyone acknowledges Assad is a brutal tyrant. He has murdered over 100,000 of his citizens, he has displaced millions as refugees, and he has used chemical weapons to gas some 1,400 innocent civilians, including over 400 children. The man is a monster, and he should be universally condemned for doing it. But the principle that U.S. foreign policy, and in particular the use of military force, should key and depend upon U.S. national security. You listen to President Obama, you listen to Secretary Kerrys arguments for launching a military strike against Syria: they primarily derive from the need to defend an international norm and to send a statement in defense of that international norm. Now, I am going to suggest to you that it is not in the job of the men and women of our military to send statements about international norms. It is the job of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines to stand up and defend the United States of America, to kill our enemies, and to defend our national interest. The Presidents objective in Syria was fundamentally wrong because it was directed at this international norm. And that in turn, the third principle I laid out about always fight to win. Well, if your objective is sending a statement, youre not winning or losing. A statement is fundamentally a press release. A statement is something that is quite welcome in a university faculty lounge. But it is not the appropriate focus of the U.S. military. And so, accordingly, we were told by the Secretary of State that our statement, our military response, if it happened, would be unbelievably small. Now if one were endeavoring to always fight to win, an unbelievably small response would, on its face, be insufficient to do that. But there was no winning. Winning was not the objective. It was simply making a statement in defense of international norms. But not only was the proposed military intervention not, I believe, in defense of U.S. national security; it posed a grave risk of undermining U.S. national security. Why is that? Because even though Assad is a brutal, murderous thug, that doesnt mean his opponents are any better. As of June, of the nine major rebel groups, up to seven of them appear to have had significant ties with al-Qaeda. And if the presidents unbelievably tiny, and yet somehow not-a-pinprick, attack were actually successful in undermining and weakening the Assad regime, the predictable effect of that could well be enabling the al-Qaeda, the al-Nusra, the Islamic radicals to seize control of that government and, even more worrisome, to seize control of that vast cache of chemical weapons. And I got to tell you, radical Islamic terrorists who seize control of chemical weapons that poses a grave threat to U.S. national security. And yet going back to what we were talking about before with respect to al-Qaeda, with respect to 9/11, with respect to Fort Hood if the Administration is not focused on fighting radical Islamic terrorism, it is likewise not appropriately focused on the grave danger of preventing terrorists from acquiring those weapons. If al-Qaeda gets control of those weapons, it is not a leap of the imagination that those chemical weapons would be used to murder thousands or millions of Americans, or our allies. The focus was ill-directed. Now, that I would have and still will vote against military force in Syria does not mean that we should do nothing. There are a host of options we can engage in proactively to condemn Assads murder.

Number one, there have been reports that Iraq has been allowing Iran to fly over their airspace and resupply Assad. In my view we should immediately cancel the $500 million in aid we are sending to Iraq unless and until they cut of air rights for Iran to resupply Assad. Now thats a simple, direct response that goes directly to Assad, it also goes to Iran, and it is focused on our U.S. national security interests. Beyond that, the United States should force a vote in the U.N. Security Council condemning Assads atrocities. Now, Russia and China will almost surely object. But in my view, we should force them to do so on the world stage to publicly embrace this murderous tyrant and cast their veto. And then in response, if the touchstone is U.S. national security, we should respond directly, with respect to Russia, by immediately reinstating the anti-ballistic missile station in Eastern Europe that at the beginning of the Obama administration they cancelled in an effort to appease Russia. And with respect to China, we should immediately approve the sale of F-16s to Taiwan that the administration canceled in order to appease China. Now, these sets of policies all derive from having the objective of defending our national security. If you are focused on U.S. interests, these steps flow naturally. The fundamental failing of this administrations approach to Syria is that it is not focused on U.S. interests. Its focused on defending international norms. And if you dont have an objective, you cant carry it out in a way to ensure that you win, that you satisfy that objective. Lets take Syrias neighbor, Israel. In my view the United States of America should remain unshakably alongside our vital ally the nation of Israel. Now, we have, right now, a strategic partnership with Israel that is often described as aid. I actually think aid is a misnomer for what were doing with Israel, because it is not, actually as my National Security Advisor Victoria Coates observed on the car ride earlier, it is not like sending food stuffs to Bora Bora. Rather, our aid to Israel is 100 percent military, and the United States of America gets an enormous dividend from that strategic partnership. We get an enormous dividend from the intelligence, from the resources, from the alliance on the ground, and it is beneficial to the United States of America to have an ally like Israel that is fighting alongside us in such a perilous part of the world where they are surrounded by terrorists who would do us harm and would do them harm. And in my view, when the military aid is renegotiated for Israel, we should give serious consideration to substantially increase the strategic partnership with the nation of Israel because it is overwhelmingly in the interest of U.S. National Security. And you know one of the places where you can see that interest is if you look at the nation of Iran. In my view, the prospect of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons capacity is the single gravest national security threat to the United States in the entire world. Why is that? Because Iran, by all appearances, is proceeding full speed towards acquiring nuclear weapons capacity, and if they were to do so, there is an unacceptable danger that they would use that nuclear weapons capacity and use those nuclear weapons against the United States or against our allies. Iran has been funding Hezbollah, carrying out terror acts throughout the world - in Bulgaria, murdering five Israeli tourists, creating Hezbollah cells in Latin America to advance Irans interests.

Its interesting watching the media report on Syria because they tend to think in two-dimensional terms. Youre either for military conflict or against military conflict, and its youre either for every military conflict or no military conflict. And that makes sense if youre not focused on what the objective is. Theres been lots of talk about now Obama the dove is suddenly a hawk. And with some amusement, some journalists write that some of the more hawkish Republicans are suddenly doves. Let me tell you, in my view President Obama is both too hawkish and too dovish at the same time. Why is that? He is too hawkish, too willing to use U.S. military might in defense of international norms in Syria in a way that is not directed at protecting our national security and could well undermine our national security. That is far too hawkish for the Commander in Chief in my view. And yet simultaneously he is far too dovish when it comes to standing up and defending our national security interests. In my opinion, the President of the United States should stand up and say unequivocally, if Iran continues to proceed towards acquiring nuclear weapons capacity, the U.S. will use overwhelming military force to prevent them from acquiring those weapons in simple, clear, categorical language. You know, one of the ironies is that the softer a leader is in dealing with the enemies of the United States, the more likelihood there is for military conflict. One principle from time immemorial is that bullies and tyrants dont respect weakness or appeasement. In the Arab World, appeasement only encourages more violence. It was not an accident that the nation of Iran released our hostages after 444 days the day Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President. I am a big believer of peace through strength. Because of this administrations ambiguous messages on Iran, I think we have increased the likelihood of military conflict with Iran because those messages can only have been taken by the Mullahs as encouragement that the United States, that the President, will be less than vigorous protecting our National Security. And that if they do proceed, the result might be an unbelievably tiny strike. That encourages military conflict. We need absolute moral clarity. Lots of folks like to say right now that America is war-weary. I will readily admit that I have no desire whatsoever to send our sons and daughters into harms way. But that message should not be misunderstood. That does not mean that America is at all reluctant to protect our vital national security interests. Just last week I was meeting with soldiers returning from Afghanistan and another group of soldiers heading to Afghanistan, and the answer every one of them gave is We stand ready to defend this nation against any threat anywhere in the world. If the focus is on defending our national security, we will do what it takes. But were not willing to sacrifice our sons and daughters in defense of an amorphous international norm. Now if you look across the rest of the world, you look at Russia, you look at China, Russia and China are major players. And right now, there are many who are embracing Mr. Putins offer to resolve everything. So I encourage the Administration to do all we can to use Russia to convince Assad to turn over those chemical weapons, and if it becomes a question of fearing for the survival of the administration there may be some remote possibility of it happening.

But we shouldnt remotely be nave. We shouldnt remotely expect that Russia or China will do anything other than act in their own national interests. And we should understand that you dont deal with nations like Russia and China by embracing arm-in-arm and singing kumbaya. The one thing China and Russia understand and respect is strength - principled strength - and they will act in their own interests. And we may be able to cooperate in specific ways where it is in their interests and our interest to do so. But we shouldnt be for a moment nave that Mr. Putin loves peace and the American way of life. There are additional challenges to consider. We look at our military, the need to modernize our military. Im going to suggest a simple rule, which is the weapons that our soldiers use should not be older than the young men and women asked to risk their lives using them. We should not be asking 20 year-old privates to carry a 30 year-old machine gun into battle in Afghanistan. We should not be asking 30 year-old Air Force pilots, providing close air support for that soldier in Afghanistan to fly a 40 year-old A10 fighter plane. And we shouldnt be asking 40 year-old National Guard pilots of an Air Force refueling tanker that supports the A10, that was built in the Eisenhower era. We should be providing tools and supporting the men and women of the military so they can carry out their courageous task of defending the United States of America. Related to that is missile defense. You know, missile defense is a principle that is so powerful when you are a lone superpower. When you are dealing with the proliferation of weapons, and as the lone superpower, there are a great many in the world who seek to put targets on us. And missile defense is the lone technology that provides the real security against rogue nations, against nuclear attack, against chemical attack, against biological attack, against asymmetric attacks that, as time goes forward, will only become more likely. You know earlier this year I visited Israel twice. Last year and earlier this year and one of the things that was striking was seeing the results of the Iron Dome Missile Defense. They had just been the subject of the massive missile assault. And the Iron Dome Missile Defense had nearly a 90% success rate knocking out incoming missiles. And I have to admit, we just earlier this year had the 30th anniversary of President Reagans SDI speech. And many of y'all will remember that when President Reagan stood up and argued for Strategic Defense Initiative, it was derided as Star Wars. This is crazy, this is some idea he got out of an old Hollywood movie. In fact, you remember the analogy they used all the time -- this is like trying to hit a bullet with a bullet. Utterly impossible, don't waste our time. Now one person who didnt think that was Mikhail Gorbachev. Mikhail Gorbachev over and over again said, Please stop this because we can't keep up with you technologically on this. Mikhail Gorbachev understood the risks of allowing the United States to protect ourselves. But you know, the success of missile defense in Israel underscores the point I made about the strategic partnership we have there. To have an ally that is live-testing missile defense in hostile conditions is extraordinarily beneficial to us and I would encourage everyone to Google Iron Dome Wedding.

What you will find when you Google that is video from a wedding that was happening in Israel. And in the middle of the wedding you begin to see rockets cutting through the sky at night. And one rocket comes up, and an Iron Dome missile comes up and intercepts it. And another rocket comes up, and another Iron Dome, and it proceeds to be like fireworks lighting up the sky with the wedding music in the background. It really is stunning just watch it and its real footage from a wedding that occurred. Missile defense is by its nature not aggressive, not offensive, cannot be used to attack anybody, but we should not embrace a pie in the sky view that there are not those who would seek to murder our citizens and taking every step we can to put in place strong missile defense is overwhelmingly in our national security interests. Finally, I want to talk about U.S. sovereignty. U.S. sovereignty is a deep passion of mine. I know it is a deep passion of the men and women here. Our current ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, has written that the United States should be willing to give up, a pinch of sovereignty. I will confess I am not persuaded. But that does explain the philosophy in Syria of lets go defend international norm rather than the United States of America. And earlier this year, President Obama, right after he announced his policy to arm the Syrian rebels, he gave a speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate. Actually, ironically enough, on the east side of the Brandenburg Gate. But his speech did not mention Syria at all his decision to start arming the rebels and begin injecting us into that sectarian civil war. But he did say, We embrace the common endeavor of humanity. We are not only citizens of America. We are citizens of the world. And with respect to the Cold War, with respect to the Brandenburg Gate, he said, Openness won. Tolerance and freedom won here in Berlin. Mr. President, with all respect, thats not true. The United States of America won. And it didnt win by accident. It didnt win by failing to stand up for our principles and our values. It won because we had a President who stood and fought for the United States of America. Today we received on loan from Steve Penley, the wonderful artist, the following painting that is now in my office. This painting is actually ginormous. Its seven feet by 12 feet. Its massive. It is a painting of Reagan standing in front of gate uttering the most important words any leader has uttered in modern times, where he stood in front of the Brandenburg gate and said Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall. Now we all know when President Reagan gave that speech, over and over again, his speechwriters, the State Department edited that line out saying No, no, no thats too confrontational. You cant tear down the wall. You cant win. And over and over again President Reagan wrote that line back in the speech. As he explained you dont understand, that line is why Im giving the speech. Thats the sort of leadership on the world stage that we need. Thats the sort of leadership thats precisely the opposite of what were seeing right now. I want to read you a quote that may strike you as apt: The president lives in the world of make- believe where mistakes, even very big ones, have no consequences. Disasters are overtaking our nation without any real response from the White House. Who does not feel a growing sense of

unease as our allies facing repeated instances of an amateurish and confused administration reluctantly conclude that America is unwilling or unable to fulfill its obligations as leader of the free world. Who does not feel rising alarm when the question in any discussion of foreign policy is no longer should we do something but instead do we have the capacity to do anything? Now those words could have been uttered this week. But they were uttered in 1980 by Ronald Reagan, describing the Jimmy Carter Administration. When America doesnt lead, the world is a much, much more dangerous place. The last thing I want to share is yet another anecdote of Sen. Jesse Helms that Robert Wilkie passed on. And it was when Margaret Thatcher, the newly elected leader of the Conservative Party, traveled to the United States. And the Labour Party that was then in power refused to allow her access to the British Embassy. And so Senator Jesse Helms opened up his office and said to Lady Thatcher, You can use my office to meet with conservatives in the United States. And Robert has told me that one of those conservatives that Margaret Thatcher sat down with in Jesse Helms office and met for the first time was a gentleman by the name of Ronald Wilson Reagan. To facilitate that introduction, to bring together two leaders who changed the face of history was an extraordinary service. And all of us should be reminded that even when things look dark, theyve looked dark before. Things looked dark in 1939. Things looked dark in 1979. Over and over again, when the United States has faced extraordinary threats, domestically or abroad, Americans have risen to the challenge. And I am absolutely convinced that each generation, including ours, will rise to the challenge to do so once again.