WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), participated in the SASC hearing Thursday titled “Global Challenges and the U.S. National Security Strategy,” with the following witnesses in attendance: Dr. Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State; Dr. George Shultz, former Secretary of State; and Dr. Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State. Inhofe released the following statement today in response to the hearing and the witnesses’ testimonies:
“I commend Senator John McCain for holding such a robust hearing with some of the greatest foreign policy and defense leaders in recent history,” said Inhofe. “We were reminded that the greatest vulnerability to our national security is a lack of strategy from the Obama Administration. With a comprehensive strategy based on the all the possible threats against our security, Congress would be better equipped to debate and address funding levels for our national security and approve adequate resources for our service members tasked to carry out missions across the globe. Instead, the threat of ISIL continues to grow and evolve; Putin and Russian-supported rebels continue to threaten Ukraine’s stability; Iran continues its efforts to develop a nuclear weapon as well as sponsors international terrorism; and Boko Haram continues to murder and kidnap Africans in large droves. As Reagan once put it, we need a strategy for strengthening peace and the resources that tell the world America should be taken seriously.”
During the hearing, Inhofe questioned the witnesses about the national security implications of budget cuts to the defense departments in recent years and how this affects previous U.S. policy to be capable of defending America in two simultaneous regional conflicts. All witnesses expressed grave concern for the United States’ military capabilities to deal with current global challenges.
Echoing Inhofe’s long-held value, Shultz said, “I think you have to recognize that a prime responsibility of the Federal Government is to provide for our security.”
Shultz went on to reflect how President Ronald Reagan built the U.S. military despite budget concerns and the national moral following Vietnam. He highlighted that Reagan’s mission of “peace through strength” resulted in less use of the the Armed Forces because of the threat that should the United States military be called to action, America would win — a “don’t mess with us” approach to foreign policy.
Albright also expressed her concern for the deep cuts to the defense department saying it “jeopardizes America’s military reach.”
Inhofe, who led the charge with former-Sen. Carl Levin to provide military supplies to Ukraine, then proceeded to question the witnesses about U.S. foreign policy for Eastern Europe and Russia.
Albright said, “I think that it's important to take a strong stand there by providing capability of Ukrainians to defend themselves, but also that NATO, in fact, can and is taking steps in other parts of Central and Eastern Europe of providing some forces that move around. And NATO has been a very important part.”
Implicating the Obama Administration’s lack of strategy for Russia, Kissinger responded to Inhofe’s question stating,“I believe we should avoid taking incremental steps before we know how far we are willing to go. This is a territory 300 miles from Moscow and therefore has special security implications. That does not change my view of the outcome which must be a free Ukraine and it may include military measures as part of it. But I am uneasy when one speaks of military measures alone without having the strategy fully put forward.”
Closing Inhofe’s time of questions, Shultz laid out a two-part strategy to help keep Ukraine free and independent:
“Number one, we should be organizing an energy effort to see to it that the countries around Russia are not totally dependent on Russian oil and gas, which has been used as a weapon. I'm interested to know that there is an LNG receiving ship in a port in Lithuania and I think they're getting their LNG from Norwegian. But we have a lot of gas in this country, we should be ready to have LNG and get it there. There's plenty of oil around, it should get there. And we want to relieve those countries of this dependence on Russian oil and gas and maybe it would teach them a little bit of a lesson, because in addition to the low oil prices they'll lose market share, probably permanently.
“But then I wouldn't hesitate -- I think I'm here in Madeleine's camp -- let's do everything we can to train and equip decently the Ukrainian armed forces. They have boots on the ground, they're their boots, but let's help them be effective because there are Russian boots on the ground. Don't anybody kid themselves about what's going on.”