In order to keep American citizens and American interests safe both at home and abroad, we must engage in a smart outward looking foreign policy that encourages diplomacy and international cooperation, with the understanding that military force is always an essential option to keep our nation safe. We must rebuild alliances with Europe, Russia and China and reinvigorate our efforts to destroy and dismantle al Qaeda’s terrorist network and thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
The Threat of a Nuclear Iran
There is no greater danger to the security of America, Israel, and our allies than a nuclear-armed Iran. The U.S. and the international community cannot allow Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and its depraved, Holocaust-denying leader, who has called for Israel’s destruction, to possess nuclear weapons. Given the advanced nature of Iran’s nuclear program, including the announcement that Iran will increase production of highly enriched uranium, and its growing threat to American and Israeli security, Congress and the Obama Administration must continue to impose tough sanctions. We must also take new, necessary steps to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Unfortunately, direct engagement with a bellicose Iranian regime has not proved sufficient to end Tehran’s nuclear threat. The United States and our international partners in the EU and the UN have created a robust, targeted sanctions framework aimed at ending Iran’s illicit quest for nuclear weapons. I was proud to have supported the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act of 2010, which strengthened sanctions on companies doing business with Iran’s energy sector and drastically limit Iran’s ability to import and produce refined petroleum products.
As a Member of the Florida Senate, I led the effort and passed legislation that allowed Florida to do its part to help weaken Iran’s ability to proceed with its nuclear program. During my first year in the Florida Senate, I sponsored legislation to divest Florida’s pension funds from companies engaging in business with Iran and Sudan. With the unanimous support from the Legislature, Florida became the first state in the country to divest, making it clear that our state workers would not aid in Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons. I was proud to testify before Congress in support of the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act, legislation that would encourage all states to divest from Iran. In Florida, I also led efforts in the State trying to leverage public opinion to persuade a Swiss company, Vitol, to stop selling refined petroleum to Iran.
In Congress, I have continued these efforts by authoring legislation that would require companies doing business in Iran to disclose its activity on SEC filings. This self-disclosure shortens the time frame for investigations into sanctions violations and creates a public listing of all companies engaged in business with Iran. I also authored legislation to increase sanctions on the Iranian regime’s most egregious human rights abusers and help give the opposition movement a voice. In the 112th Congress, both pieces of my legislation were incorporated into a larger, bipartisan package of new sanctions.
Iranian leaders must know there are far-reaching economic and security consequences for their failure to fully comply with global demands, including the failure to meet their legal obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Iranian government, which has been offered substantial carrots to end its uranium enrichment program, must also know that American and international patience is not endless. While use of force should always be the last resort, the Obama Administration must keep this option on the table in the event Iran fails to meet the demands of the international community.
Al Qaeda, Afghanistan and Iraq
While I opposed President Bush’s invasion of Iraq, our troops have served heroically, and now it is time to finalize our withdrawal of U.S. forces on the ground by the end of 2011. The Iraqi government must now take responsibility and stand up for its own national security. In addition to the tragic deaths and injuries of thousands of U.S. soldiers, the war in Iraq has endangered America’s security efforts throughout the Middle East.
With the killing of Osama bin Laden, our efforts in Afghanistan must now fundamentally be based on rooting out and destroying the remaining al Qaeda terrorist network that attacked our nation on September 11th, 2001. We must focus on training Afghan national troops to build a strong, central government to act as a bulwark against any resurgence of the Taliban and al Qaeda.
As a Member of Congress, I closely monitor U.S. efforts to destroy the worldwide network of al Qaeda and ensure we do not take our eye off the ball in Afghanistan. I support a significant and rapid drawdown of troops so that all of our men and women can come home and we can recommit to our own nation building in our own communities.
We also need a smart anti-terrorism policy where we continue to encourage communication between the C.I.A., F.B.I. and local law enforcement to foil domestic plots like the one unraveled this fall to assassinate the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia right here on U.S. soil and bomb embassies in Washington D.C.. We also need to continue to support countries that aid our counterterrorism efforts in the region. President Obama must insist on full cooperation in counterterrorism efforts from Pakistan. This is a job we cannot do alone. I continue to support the Obama Administration’s efforts to strengthen our international alliances in order to encourage other nations to share counter-terrorism intelligence and cooperation.