Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Views on Foreign Affairs
I believe in an American foreign policy that protects our national interests, strengthens our long-term security, and establishes partnerships with our allies. We must be ever vigilant in countering the threats we face in today’s uncertain world. Iran and North Korea continue in their pursuit to master nuclear weapons. From Afghanistan and Iraq to the Greater Middle East, radical Islamists seek to undermine established governments and stifle liberty.
While our attention is rightly focused on combating global terrorism, we must not forget other national security threats in our own Hemisphere where dictatorial regimes increasingly impose totalitarian ideologies. We must condemn human rights abuse in China, North Korea, and around the globe while also championing democracy, religious liberty, and the rule of law. With these concerns foremost in mind, I work every day as a member of the House Armed Services Committee to help keep our country safe. Providing our military the resources necessary to safeguard our liberties and to protect our shores is one of my top legislative priorities. I am also well aware of the need to keep our diplomatic tools well-sharpened. In my time serving in the House of Representatives, I have been a constant advocate for our nation on the global stage. That includes:
Supporting Our Democratic Ally Israel: I have been privileged to visit Israel and see firsthand the challenges that confront our ally. As the sole democracy in the Middle East, Israel is a key ally of the American people. I believe America has been blessed because we have been a blessing to Israel. A top priority of mine will always be to ensure the safety and security of our great nation, and central to this priority is the recognition that the national security of the United States is directly tied to the strength and security of the State of Israel. The Middle East continues to experience instability with mass demonstrations in numerous countries, Hezbollah pointing rockets at Israel, Hamas controlling Gaza, and the looming threat of Iran’s nuclear program. U.S. security assistance to Israel has never been more important for our own interests. Any strategy less than the full commitment of our nation to the state of Israel would represent a serious and disconcerting change in U.S. policy.
I have taken a number of steps to show my support for Israel. I am a proud member of the Israel Allies Caucus and the Republican Israel Caucus that both work to provide information on issues related to Israel. One of my first steps in Congress was to sign a letter to the leadership of the House of Representative advocating for Congress to include full security assistance for Israel in appropriations for Fiscal Year 2012. I have co-sponsored legislation, which reaffirms the United States' commitment to a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. I have also co-sponsored a bill, which reaffirms American principles regarding the security of Israel and peace in the Middle East. In addition, I have co-sponsored the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act.
I have expressed my support for Israel publically on the floor of the House of Representatives in order to express disappointment with President Obama’s proposal for Israel to return to its pre-1967 borders. President Obama’s call for Israel to make more sacrifices in the pursuit of peace in the Middle East is unacceptable. The borders that were established in 1967 followed three wars launched against Israel. For Israel, acceptance of the 1967 borders would mean that Israeli sacrifices were for nothing. We all want to see peace in the Middle East. However, it is unrealistic and naive to think that peace will come as a result of Israel – the only democratic state in the region – making more concessions. Restoring the pre-1967 borders would be a victory for Hamas, a terrorist group committed to Israel’s demise. This is not the path to peace and the President should acknowledge this. Peace can only come about through the Palestinians and other Middle Eastern countries accepting Israel’s right to exist. We must stand strong for Israel.
Pushing for Additional Iranian Sanctions: We must continue to highlight the persistent threat of a nuclear Iran. Iran continues its illicit drive for nuclear weapons in defiance of multiple mandatory U.N. Security Council resolutions. As one of the world’s leading state sponsors of terrorism, Iran provides weapons, money, and training to groups, which seek the destruction of both the United States and Israel. Iran has a global terrorist network and actively undermines U.S. peace efforts though its support of groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Stringent economic sanctions remain our only peaceful option by which to persuade Iran to suspend its quest for nuclear weapons. We must work relentlessly to enforce existing U.S. sanctions on foreign companies that work in Iran’s energy sector and on banks that facilitate Iran’s international transactions. Towards these ends, I have sent a letter to United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice to press for the addition of new companies and individuals to the list of sanctioned Iranian entities. Additionally, I have co-sponsored the Iran Threat Reduction Act, which strengthens Iran sanction laws for the purpose of compelling Iran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Preventing Iran from achieving nuclear-weapon capabilities is essential for stability in the Middle East and for our own global security.
Assisting Taiwan: The United States and Taiwan have a long history of close relations. Taiwan is a stable democracy, a strong ally, and an important trading partner. Congress has played an important role in this relationship by passing the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979 to sustain our close bilateral relationship and to advance the mutual security and commercial interests of the two nations. This has served as a cornerstone of U.S.-Taiwan relations, and it has helped preserve peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. I am a proud member of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus that works in a bipartisan way to enhance and strengthen U.S.-Taiwan relations and to ensure that Taiwan continues to be a free, democratic country. This membership, along with my membership in the Congressional China Caucus, shows strong support for countering the threat from China. Taiwan lives under a constant military threat from the People’s Republic of China. Taiwan is a fellow democracy facing a very serious threat and at this crucial time in their history, we must stand with our ally.
Supporting Democratic Transitions in the Middle East: The U.S. must send a clear and unequivocal message of support to those freedom-loving people who renounce violence, who are committed to democratic governance, and who are committed to peace and security with all of their neighbors, including Israel. The U.S. should be focused on strengthening responsible independent actors who will continue to enforce international obligations and who will serve as credible alternatives to radical Islamists who attempt to undermine the democratic process. To be clear, we must also urge the unequivocal rejection of any involvement by extremists who may seek to exploit and hijack these events to gain power, oppress the people, and do great harm to the relationship with the United States, Israel, and other free nations. The U.S. and our allies must focus our efforts on helping to create the necessary conditions for transitions to democracy.
Insisting on Pakistani Reform: I support efforts to place conditions on further Pakistani aid until they make progress in helping the U.S. combat terrorism. While recognizing the complexity of our relationship with Pakistan, we must remain resolute in our commitment to rooting out terrorism. Pakistan has helped us find and kill terrorists near and inside their borders. Yet, there is also the real possibility that they knowingly concealed Osama bin Laden inside their country for many years. It is indisputable that Pakistan provides adversarial attitudes towards the United States. However, Pakistan has also permitted the U.S. to transport needed equipment through their country to our bases and operations in Afghanistan. We need to be mindful of the fact that long after the U.S. withdraws soldiers from Afghanistan, the relationship with Pakistan will be important because it will remain a nuclear power with weapons that can be used against India, Israel, or proliferated to terrorist groups. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I understand the demand to cut off all aid to Pakistan. However, we must consider all factors and utilize all tools—militarily and diplomatically—to incentivize cooperation while continuing to do what best serves our interests. Pakistan is a nuclear-armed county and is on the front lines with the fight against terrorism. While discovery of bin Laden inside Pakistan’s borders is very upsetting, it underscores the need for open communications between Pakistan and the United States. We have an opportunity to use our leverage with Pakistan to forge more open and honest lines of communications and prevent those wishing to do us harm from finding safe haven there. I know this will be an ongoing and difficult process, but one that is necessary to protect America against terrorism.
Urging United Nations Reform: I have co-sponsored the United Nations Transparency, Accountability, and Reform Act. With significant leadership from the United States, the U.N. was founded on high, noble ideals. However, those ideals have been met only sporadically in this multilateral institution that often undermines U.S. foreign policy and wastes American tax dollars. The U.N. has allowed the oppressive regime of North Korea to chair the Conference on Disarmament while also permitting noted human rights-abuser Iran to sit on the Commission on the Status of Women. These actions have further undermined the U.N.’s effectiveness and credibility, necessitating reforms and reconsideration of our current funding levels. This legislation will work to achieve the goal of reforming the United Nations. Additionally, I have co-sponsored legislation, which would withhold funding from the U.N. until it officially retracts the Goldstone Report, the 2009 U.N. report that accused Israel of war crimes and which was recently disavowed by its author. I also signed a letter to Secretary Clinton urging support of Israel in the U.N. Security Council. With continued efforts to undermine Israel’s status as a nation state likely, the U.S. must remain staunchly committed to our democratic partner Israel at the U.N.
Controlling Foreign Aid Spending: In an era of fiscal austerity, we must ensure the efficacy and efficiency of every tax dollar. Though spending on foreign aid only accounts for about 1% of total federal spending, Congress must still root out waste, eliminate fraud, and pare back even well-intentioned programs. Any American aid ought to be narrowly tailored to specific purposes which are measurable and achievable and clearly in our national interest. Additionally, financial and structural aid should be directed to countries demonstrating a resolute commitment to democracy and transparency. Rather than creating dependency on foreign donors amongst aid recipients, our goal ought to be to encourage entrepreneurship, free trade, and domestic industry. I oppose funding of U.S. dollars going to countries opposed to our ideals. I will continue to support the withdrawal of funding to countries such as the Palestinian Authority, Yemen, Bolivia, and Venezuela unless they meet standards and conditions connected to combating terrorism and the acceptance of democratic principles.
Protecting Religious Liberties: The freedom to believe and practice whatever religion one chooses is foundational to our basic liberties as Americans. This fundamental right is an inalienable right rooted in the independence of conscience of all people. Accordingly, I believe all governments ought to protect their citizens’ religious liberty and that the United States ought to make the protection of religious liberty a key part of our foreign diplomacy and international relations. I have co-sponsored the reauthorization of the International Religious Freedom Act, and I am confident Congress will continue to advocate on behalf of religious minorities. I also am a member of the International Religious Freedom Caucus, which plays a key role in pressuring international officials to recognize the rights of the oppressed.
Providing for the Common Defense: A strong foreign policy arises from robust military power. Any discussion of our foreign policy must also include a clear affirmation of the priority of our national defense. I have led and participated in multiple efforts to safeguard defense spending and to work against arbitrary cuts that do not consider troop strength, military readiness, or adequate support for weapons modernization. For more detailed information on my efforts please see my informative page dedicated to defense and national security issues: http://hartzler.house.gov/issue/defense
I believe that the U.S. ought to champion the ideals that have made our nation great—the rule of law, property rights, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom to worship and profess any faith. In this era of fiscal austerity, our resources should be dedicated to the protection of American national security and economic prosperity first and foremost. While it is important that all of America’s diplomatic tools are available to address international challenges, we must also ensure that our limited foreign aid budget be focused on effective and efficient programs. Although some aid may be useful in building coalitions with our allies and addressing narrowly defined humanitarian goals, Congress must look for ways to save taxpayer dollars while still funding the nation's priorities.