Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Morgan Griffith on Presenting a Strong Face

From U.S. Representative Morgan Griffith (R-VA-9):

United States Must Present A Strong Face
Individuals can often be judged by how they perceive those around them.
To his credit in foreign affairs, President Obama seems to view his fellow world leaders as people who want a fair deal and who want to do what is right. This, I believe, reflects well on the President’s core beliefs. To me this indicates he truly wants fair deals, and that he believes if he treats other world leaders fairly even if such deals are not in the best interest of the United States, they will reciprocate by doing what is right.
However, while this may speak well of the President’s character, it doesn’t necessarily speak well of his leadership.
I believe this well-meaning naiveté is what led the Administration to make the President’s bad nuclear deal with Iran. An Iran that doesn’t seem to be following this deal even in these early stages of the agreement.
Also, the Russians waltzed in and took the Crimea, a strategic peninsula that is part of the nation of Ukraine. A nation we had a treaty with and had promised to defend.
Further, there are so-called “little green men” in Eastern Ukraine. These so-called “little green men” are armed men in green uniforms who look as if they are members of the Russian military. However, Russia attempted to assure us otherwise, claiming these unidentified though seemingly professional soldiers instead were merely men wearing green who speak Russian, who are pro-Russia, and who are occupying territory in Eastern Ukraine.
Some suspect there already may be or soon may be “little green men” near the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The United States has a treaty with these nations, which are also members of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Will the Russian empire or its agents attempt to reoccupy our Baltic friends and NATO allies as they did with the Crimea? Will the Obama Administration pay more than lip service in defending the Baltic nations?
The Obama Administration didn’t defend Ukraine.
The Obama Administration did not take action against President Assad of Syria even after Assad crossed Obama’s red line. (One can debate whether we should be involved against Assad, but the United States should not make threats if it is not in our interest to follow through on those threats.)
Nor did the Obama Administration swiftly develop a solid strategy for dealing with the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which the President himself once referred to as a “JV” or “junior varsity” team.
Because of the Administration’s failure to recognize that other nations do not operate with “good will” but are aggressively advancing their agendas to the detriment of the United States, they perceive President Obama’s attempts to do what he thinks is “fair and right” as weakness.
Accordingly, China has recently started pursuing its objectives in the South China Sea, having built an airstrip on the Fiery Cross Reef. This reef is part of the Spratly Island chain claimed by China, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
China believes it has a historic right to dominate this region. It is China’s long-term strategy to turn the South China Sea into the equivalency of a Chinese lake.
CNBC reports that Peter Dutton, the professor and director of the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College, said in a February speech that China’s actions represent “a significant strategic event” and “…leave the potential for the South China Sea to become a Chinese strait, rather than an open component of the global maritime commons.”
The effects of allowing China to dominate this region would severely damage the ability of neighboring countries, particularly our ally the Philippines, from shipping goods from their country to other nations. Further, it would undermine the existing law contained in the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea. The undermining of this international treaty could lead to a global territorial grab by various nations to dominate waters outside of their recognized borders.
In the South China Sea, will the Administration do more than merely wag its finger and say “shame, shame?”
In the waning months of this Administration, I hope they will take a stronger stand in foreign affairs. If the Obama Administration will not present a strong face for the United States, I hope the next Administration will.

If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.