If there is anything the past week has reminded us, it is that we still live in a dangerous world.
Eleven years after the 9/11 attacks, we saw American embassies and consulates under siege and were shocked by the cold-blooded murder of four Americans in Libya.
Attacks on Americans should not be tolerated under any circumstance. I am disturbed that America’s first response to the onslaught of these unjustifiable attacks was to apologize for their irrational inspiration. We should have led with deploying the Marines to protect American citizens and secure American assets abroad.
In situations like these, America must show leadership and resolve. We cannot back down in the fight against extremists. Moving forward, we should seek swift and decisive justice to make clear that such attacks will not go unanswered.
It is unfortunate that, in the same week these attacks were perpetrated, President Obama refused to make time for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during his upcoming visit to the United States.
Israel is our closest ally in the Middle East and one of our most vital partners in the world. For President Obama to decline such a meeting is disturbing and illustrates a lack of regard for the indispensable relationship between our countries.
That is why I led nearly a quarter of the House of Representatives in calling on President Obama to reverse his decision and meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu. If the president can make time for David Letterman, Beyonce and Jay-Z, certainly he can make time for such an important ally.
In our fight against the kind of extremists who attacked our embassies and killed our citizens last week, the president should work to strengthen our relationship with such an important, peace-loving country. Together, we can advance our shared interests of stability and prosperity. A divided front serves only to embolden extremists and could encourage Iran’s pursuit of nuclear capabilities.
Amid such threats, it also is time for President Obama to outline how he would implement the devastating defense sequester that is set to take effect in January.
Last week, we learned that his White House devised the plan because the president did not want to deal with another debate over increasing the debt limit before November’s elections. While kicking the can down the road may make political sense for the president’s re-election prospects, it does not make sense for our troops and our national security.
According to President Obama’s hand-picked Secretary of Defense, the cuts would “hollow out the force and inflict serious damage to the national defense.” Rough estimates compiled at the Pentagon show that the 10-year impact of the cuts would lead to the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest number of ships since 1915, and the smallest Air Force in its history.
It also threatens to send our economy back into a recession. In Georgia alone, the sequester could eliminate nearly 35,000 jobs and take a whopping $2.19 billion out of our state’s economy.
I voted against the legislation that created the sequester because it disproportionately impacted defense programs without addressing the true drivers of our national debt. I know we can find savings in all aspects of government — the military included — but we should identify and implement the savings in a responsible and strategic manner.
We live in a dangerous world. To think we can arbitrarily shrink our military to its smallest size since World War II and expect it to defend us from harm would be a dangerous mistake. If nothing else, last week should’ve made that clear.
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., serves Georgia’s 1st Congressional District, which includes Bryan County.