Standing Strong Against Foreign Aggression
By U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)
Today, as threats to the United States continue to grow across the globe, it is important to remind ourselves that we remain the strongest, most powerful country in the world and can face any challenge presented by America’s enemies. The U.S. military is the most sophisticated and capable fighting force the world has ever seen, and, with continued support from Congress and the president, can regain the required level of readiness lost during years of underfunding. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I’m extremely proud of our ability to come together to support our troops and their missions each year.
Recently, news broke that North Korea has allegedly developed a nuclear warhead that could be mated to a missile and reach United States soil. Many Americans are rightly concerned about this development. In response to North Korea’s nuclear weapons initiatives, the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to approve new, global sanctions against North Korea. This came shortly after Congress passed and President Trump signed into law an expanded set of sanctions against hostile actors, to include North Korea.
While the United States is capable of taking military action against those wishing to do us harm, sanctions can be a helpful tool we can use to deter and respond to destabilizing, dangerous behavior without the risks associated with a military response. The United States has a long history of using sanctions as a tool of foreign policy, and I support its use as a peaceful attempt to apply pressure to rogue nations. Further, if North Korea takes steps toward becoming a more responsible actor in the international community, the U.S. and international community could reward such behavior by rolling back selected sanctions. A successful implementation of sanctions on North Korea will require international cooperation, especially from China. Specifically, these sanctions would directly affect North Korea’s senior leadership and their supporters.
However, we must keep all options on the table as we continue our efforts to stabilize and de-escalate dangerous situations, including that with North Korea. As I’ve said many times before, the defense of our nation is the primary responsibility of the federal government. The North Korean regime has threatened the United States and our allies countless times, and we must continue to send a strong message that aggression will not be tolerated.
But the Korean peninsula isn’t the only area in which we must keep a careful watch on rogue actors. Elsewhere in the world, Iran continues to violate international restrictions prohibiting ballistic missile testing and illicit arms transfers. Russia has invaded Ukraine and, in violation of international law annexed the Crimean peninsula. It also brazenly engages in cyberattacks, as exemplified by their efforts during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The recent sanctions legislation that President Trump signed into law punishes both of these nations, in addition to North Korea, for their continued aggressive, destabilizing behaviors.
Earlier this summer, I wrote about the importance of rebuilding our armed forces and promoting ‘Peace Through Strength,’ a philosophy implemented by President Ronald Reagan to successfully end the Cold War in the 1980s. Now more than ever, we must be prepared to use our military strength along with non-military measures to deter aggression and, if deterrence fails, make certain that attacks on our country or our allies are soundly defeated.