As a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, part of my work in Congress consists of developing a strong U.S. foreign policy targeted towards nurturing relationships with our key allies, countering adversaries seeking to undermine our national security, and working diligently to mitigate the threats we face abroad to prevent them from reaching our shores. While we must remain clear-eyed about the threat posed by terrorism, we must also be willing to confront the dangers to our national security from nation states, such as North Korea and Syria.
In 1988, the United States government designated the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) a state sponsor of terrorism. However, that designation was rescinded in October 2008 following commitments made by the government of North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. It is with little surprise that North Korea does not abide by these commitments.
Despite multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions aimed to punish the hermit kingdom for its blatant acts of aggression, North Korea continues to conduct nuclear and ballistic missile tests - evidence of the regime’s unrelenting quest to develop the ability to launch a nuclear attack far beyond its own backyard. Such a quest poses a real and direct threat to the United States, as well as our allies. If decisive action is not taken soon, North Korea’s nuclear progress could result in the obtainment of capabilities that will drastically affect the balance of power globally, transforming the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s empty threats of nuclear war into a reality.
In his first 100 days in office, President Trump highlighted the need to resolve the threats emanating from the Korean peninsula and rightly placed additional focus on China - North Korea’s ally and main trading partner - to do more to rein in the rogue regime. In addition, my colleagues and I in the House of Representatives passed legislation condemning North Korean nuclear and missile development, as well legislation to expand and enhance current sanctions to restrict financing needed by the regime to fund its nuclear ambitions. Lastly, I supported legislation in the House urging the State Department to place North Korea back on the State Sponsor of Terrorism list, which it should have never left in the first place.
While North Korea will remain an imminent concern for the foreseeable future, the U.S. must also continue pushing for a political solution to resolve the ongoing civil war in Syria, now in its sixth year. Furthermore, I believe the time to hold those responsible for this tragedy accountable is long overdue – the main culprit being President Bashar al Assad.
As you know, earlier this month President Assad launched a chemical weapons attack on his own people in a rebel-held town in the northern city of Idlib. This attack killed at least 58 people, including 11 children, in what President Trump declared as crossing “many, many red lines.” However, unlike the chemical weapons attack in 2013 that killed nearly 1,500 civilians, crossing former President Obama’s infamous 2012 “red line” which he did nothing to enforce, President Trump made a decisive decision to launch a strike in Syria. President Trump targeted the airbase from which the planes that carried out the chemical attack originated. In doing so, he sent a strong signal to the world that the days of America’s empty threats are long gone.
Let me be clear, a political solution Syria is needed. However, as history often reminds us, sometimes you cannot negotiate or reason with tyrants. Regardless, it is clear that without U.S. leadership, nation states such as Russia and Iran will continue to prop up the murderous Assad regime in Syria to protect their national security interests.
As Vice President Pence recently noted, the era of “strategic patience” which defined the previous administration is over. The U.S. cannot sit idly by while North Korea continues to pursue the ability to launch a nuclear attack on our homeland, nor can we tolerate President Assad’s continued use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians in Syria to become the norm.
The fact remains that without strong U.S. leadership abroad, a void will exist that will undoubtedly be filled by adversaries’ intent on undermining our national security interests. I look forward to continuing to work with our current administration to ensure the U.S. has a strong foreign policy that prioritizes upholding international law while protecting the national security interests of the American people.
It continues to be a great honor to represent you in the United States House of Representatives. Please feel free to visit my website www.mccaul.house.gov for more information on constituent services, legislative updates, my E-Newsletter, and my ongoing work in Congress. I also encourage you to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to get updates on my work in Washington and the 10th District.