Conaway speaks on national security at West Texas Moving Forward Conference
The following is a press release from Congressman Mike Conaway (TX-11)
This week, I had the opportunity to speak in San Angelo at the West Texas Moving Forward Conference, which was hosted by the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce. My remarks were focused on the state of our national security, and I would like to share some of my thoughts from the conference here.
While the United States possesses the most competent military on the globe, we must be clear eyed in our assessment of the challenges that are before us. Our forces are capable of providing support to our allies and partners or meet our adversaries wherever they may be, but at few points in our nation’s history has our strength been tested as it is today.
Our world has become an increasingly more dangerous place with an unprecedented global pandemic as the backdrop. We find ourselves living on the outset of another great power competition between Russia and China – as the two continually challenge America’s resolve and attempt to erode our influence around the world. They wish to reshape the world order they loathe—one that is led by the United States and based on shared values of all free nations, with dedication to the rule of law and cooperation.
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), led by Xi Jinping, continues to build and modernize a military force to rival our own through acquiring and developing many of these technologies through cyber-attacks and espionage. The CCP continues to blatantly ignore international law by militarizing the South China Sea and committing human atrocities we once thought relegated to the history books.
At this very moment, an estimated one million Uyghurs, an ethnic minority in the Xinjiang region of China, are being subjected to a horrific campaign of repression – some never to be seen again – and enduring internment in dozens of modern-day concentration camps. Their prisons are also filled with an unknown number of individuals, viewed as “dissidents,” who are often made to endure unspeakable horrors. We are now starting to see this same practice take root in Hong Kong as the CCP moves to crackdown on pro-democracy voices.
Concurrently, Russia has reemerged as a great power and strategic competitor to the United States. Like his Chinese counterpart, Vladimir Putin has sought an ambitious goal to modernize and refit the Russian military—using this acquired power to flout international treaties, antagonize his neighbors, and meddle in their domestic affairs.
Amid this great power competition, rogue states, like Iran and North Korea, continue to seek an upheaval of regional balances. Iran, the largest sponsor of state-terror, uses fanaticism and extremism to further stoke instability in the Middle East to expand their influence and threaten the existence of our strongest ally in the region, Israel, through their nuclear ambitions.
North Korea’s own nuclear ambitions and provocative behaviors prop up a dictatorial regime that threatens instability on the Korean peninsula and our homeland. In addition, while greatly diminished, ISIS, Al Qaeda, and violent extremists still pose serious threats to peace and stability across the globe.
While our country faces many challenges presently, and in the years to come, I am assured by the actions taken by President Trump and his administration to reassert American strength and renew our competitiveness. From day one, this President has worked to rebuild our military and hold China and Russia accountable using every facet of American power and influence, including his tough stances to address trade imbalances with China and sanction Russia over the construction of their Nord Stream II pipeline.
In Congress, we are making the investments necessary to ensure our armed forces have the resources they need to deter, fight, and win America’s wars. Over the past three years, we have ensured steady funding and certainty for the Department of Defense to address the readiness and maintenance shortfalls that have plagued the services fatigued by nearly two decades of warfare combined with fiscal and budgetary instability.
This past month, both chambers of Congress passed their versions of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). While we will soon head to conference to iron out the differences in these bills, both packages are chock full of good policies that fully fund our military for the fourth consecutive year providing necessary resources to maintain our competitive edge. In addition, Congress has provided the administration with the tools and authorities required to hold our strategic competitors accountable from a whole of government approach.
The coronavirus has unquestionably caused tensions to rise in this great power competition and opened the eyes of many of my colleagues and the American people to the real threat posed by our adversaries.
The CCP’s deliberate and disgusting attempt to hide the coronavirus and their ability to co-op the World Health Organization's complicity delayed the global response and has worsened the devastation and heartbreak across the world. Their deplorable actions have further highlighted the regime’s untrustworthiness, and have spurred tougher talk and real actions. This summer, Congress has taken many steps to address this, including sanctions on Chinese officials for their parts in human rights violations against the Uyghurs and another effort I helped to lead to delist Chinese companies from US exchanges.
While there is still much to be done, we are setting the foundations now for how our country will respond to threats in the future. I am encouraged by the work we have completed and in the eagerness of the next generation to pick up the torch to tackle our country’s challenges.
Despite the state of the world we presently find ourselves in, I have unbounded hope for our future. In my own lifetime, I have seen our nation rise to meet numerous threats. Overcoming adversity and meeting our challengers head on is in our DNA. No country has done more good for the world and asked so little in return as the United States. As we navigate through these challenges, it is our duty to ensure that the world continues to look to the United States for guidance and strength.
Special thanks to the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce for hosting the conference and putting on a great program.