Recent Op-Eds

Getting National Security Right

By Sen. John Thune

March 29, 2024

I often say that if we don’t get national security right, the rest is just conversation. Getting it right requires demonstrating not only the strength to deter threats from materializing in the first place and maintaining the capabilities to defeat them, but also the will and credibility to hold such threats accountable. In this era of complex challenges, securing our nation requires a holistic approach that encompasses defense, border security, and energy security, among other elements.

A strong military capable of countering almost any threat is essential to American strength. Unfortunately, the Biden administration does not seem to be prioritizing investing in our military capabilities, focusing instead on its reckless tax-and-spending agenda. Despite persistent readiness and recruitment challenges, not to mention an increasingly unstable world, the Biden administration has made little attempt to ensure our military has what it needs to face future threats. In the administration’s recently released budget request, the president uses budget gimmicks to blow through non-defense budget caps to fund progressive priorities, yet he couldn’t seem to find an extra dollar for the defense budget.

On other aspects of our national security, the Biden administration’s policies have made the United States more vulnerable. The crisis at the southern border is a prime example. More than 7.4 million illegal immigrants have been caught trying to cross the border since President Biden took office. Another 1.8 million “gotaways” have evaded Border Patrol to enter the country, and hundreds of individuals on the terrorist watch list have been caught at the southern border. I agree with the chief of Border Patrol, who recently said the situation is a “national security threat,” with the number of gotaways keeping him up at night. And it’s unfortunately the result of President Biden dismantling effective border security policies.

A secure energy supply is also critical to our national security. We’ve recently seen the consequences of overreliance on foreign energy sources as Europe struggled to wean itself off of Russian energy. But, the Biden administration’s rushed energy transition jeopardizes the secure energy supply on which we all depend. Actions like the recent liquefied natural gas export permit pause, heavy-handed environmental regulations and taxes, and other actions to discourage domestic energy production are good news – not for America, but for Iran and Russia. And at a time when our electric grid is struggling to meet existing demand, the president’s plan to create a de facto mandate for Americans to buy electric vehicles is especially misguided.

As the president has pursued policies that make America more vulnerable, he has also failed to demonstrate a requisite strength to our allies and adversaries. Iran might be the best example. In the last few months, Iran-backed militant groups have launched numerous attacks against American troops in the Middle East and against civilian shipping operations in the Red Sea. Not long ago, the Biden administration was seeking to revive the flawed Iran nuclear deal and offered sanctions relief to the ayatollahs. While lately the Biden administration has suggested “red lines” for our ally Israel in its war against Hamas terrorists, there have been no such “red lines” issued for our enemies in Iran.

The United States needs to be clear-eyed about the threats we face and the steps we can take to safeguard our national security. We have to get national security right, and that means getting all of America’s national security right. That’s what I will continue to pursue as my Republican colleagues and I push back against the Biden administration’s dangerous national security policies.