A 21st Century Doctrine For Keeping America Safe

Rob Maness U.S. Senate Candidate, Louisiana
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We live in a time of international turbulence and uncertainty.

The enemies of freedom and of the United States are emboldened by the missteps of the Obama foreign policy.

In a post-9/11 world we must be guided by more than just specific policies and ideas.

That’s why I have put forward a “Doctrine for Keeping America Safe.”  This plan is rooted in the 32 years I spent serving the United States in uniform.

It is shaped by the experience of being in the Pentagon on September 11, 2011, my total accumulation of national security knowledge, the responsibility of leading young men and women into multiple combat operations during a time of war, and my role as father of three sons currently serving our country in uniform.

If we’ve learned anything in recent years, it’s that words mean a great deal. It might sound simple, but one of the first tenets of keeping America safe is ensuring that you say what you mean and mean what you say.

Don’t draw red lines unless you plan to make good on them. When the government of President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own people in Syria, a previously declared red line was crossed, but nothing followed. Empty words only undermine our credibility and signal weakness to our enemies.

Once we agree on a vocabulary, we have to agree on the enemy. That’s why it’s crucial that we never underestimate the enemies of freedom.

It wasn’t that long ago that America’s commander in chief mocked the Islamic State as the “JV team” of jihad. Today, they are beheading American journalists, murdering Christian children, causing chaos and instability in the Middle East and have grown to represent what the Secretary of Defense calls an “imminent threat” to the United States. It was either arrogance or incompetence, but either way, we cannot afford to underestimate our enemies or their resolve to perpetrate violence and harm on free societies.

Military action may be the last resort, but as President Reagan famously said, “Don’t mistake our reluctance for war for a lack of resolve.” Enemies of the United States cannot and should not be permitted to murder our citizens. Their evil must be met with our strength, and our strength should be mobilized when our national interests are at stake.

Any time the possibility of using U.S. military force is in play, there has to be a clear strategy and plan that details both the objective and defines success.

Trust in the people begins with telling them the truth about what the real situation is, what threats we are facing, what actions we are considering and what risks lie ahead. It also means having a defined exit strategy so the mistakes made by President Obama in Iraq and Afghanistan that paved the way for today’s current crisis with ISIS are not repeated again.

The use of force and risk of American lives must also have the full support of Congress. The case to do so should be presented to Congress for approval, in a transparent way that provides policymakers and the American people with a plan of action. Now more than ever, military actions taken by the United States must have the support of Congress – they cannot be unilateral actions by a rogue chief executive.

Beyond just the decision to intervene in a conflict, there must be an awareness of what resources are being used and where they are being sent. In other words: Be careful about who we arm.

Sometimes the best of intentions results in the worst of outcomes. New reports have surfaced that “significant quantities” of U.S.-manufactured small arms have landed in the hands of Islamic State militants.  The intention of the United States was to help Syrian rebels; the result has been arming the enemy. If we cannot guarantee that our resources will stay in the right hands, we shouldn’t deploy them.

One of the challenges of the 21st Century is confronting an enemy that has no borders and no boundaries. The enemies of freedom will look to exploit any and all opportunities to recruit and expand their ranks.

That’s why we must have a policy that makes clear that any American citizen, who makes the choice to go to Iraq and Syria to fight alongside a terrorist party like ISIS, should never be allowed to return to the United States as a citizen. Taking deliberate action to perpetrate harm and violence against the United States and its citizens by collaborating with a terrorist network should be considered a renunciation of their citizenship and they should be treated as an enemy of the state.

Finally, while it’s easy to put all of our energy and focus on the threats abroad, we must also never again neglect our fallen heroes, our military veterans and their families.

The inefficacy of Washington and misplaced priorities of career politicians should never affect the commitment we made and debt we owe to those who have sacrificed to protect our freedoms. We do this by permanently locking in benefits, looking at modern solutions to healthcare through my seven-point “Freedom for Veterans” plan and peeling back the bureaucratic obstacles so many of our veterans face. Without our freedom we are not the greatest country on Earth, and without our military we are without our freedoms. Politicians should not turn their lives, living conditions, salaries, and healthcare into political kickballs, and we should always honor our commitments to them.

The emergence of new global threats has changed the national conversation.

Once again, we are being asked to consider how to best deploy our military resources and manpower.

With the backdrop of an election bearing down on us, I believe the voters have a right to know where their candidates stand, not just on the policies we will support here at home, but on the bigger, more impactful issues that we will have to confront on the world stage.

Rob Maness is a conservative candidate running for United States Senate in who served in the United States Air Force for 32 years, retiring as a full Colonel. Maness is a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal and Air Medal, and served in numerous combat operations, including Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.