Today, the United States faces unprecedented challenges abroad. In the Middle East, terrorist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda present a grave threat to U.S. national security. Threats without traditional borders—like pandemic disease or global climate change—continue to grow. New regional powers are emerging in Asia and Latin America, and the United States must find ways to accommodate their rise. A nuclear threat from North Korea and continued Russian aggression in Eastern Europe put the modern world order at risk of collapsing.
A strong military is the foundation of U.S. national security. And in Connecticut, we make the machinery that keeps America safe. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I have fought to secure tens of billions of dollars in new funding for the construction of Columbia Class submarines, F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, and Black Hawk helicopters. All of these state-of-the-art, made-in-Connecticut technologies are designed to achieve our military objectives while keeping our servicemembers safe.
But conventional military weaponry is not sufficient to counter the primary threat to U.S. security: terrorism. That is why I supported legislation that closed security gaps in our nation’s visa waiver program and continue to advocate for the sharing of more counter-terror information between countries. I also want to ensure that people who are suspected of terrorism have a harder time carrying out their plans by closing the “terror gap” and prohibiting those on the FBI’s terrorist watch list from legally buying guns in the United States. In the face of increased acts of terrorism in Europe, I unveiled four key recommendations to prevent continued attacks.
Beyond military readiness and hardening our nation's defenses, we need to come to terms with the fact that our current set of tools we use to confront security threats is not sufficient, nor does it meet the changed reality of the new kinds of challenges we meet around the world. Early in my term, I outlined a set of Smart Power Principles to guide U.S. foreign policy in the modern era. And I have been vocal about the need to invest in the agencies that are on the frontline of diplomacy, economic development, and humanitarian assistance.
While a strong military will always be a vital piece of American national security, for too long we have viewed national security solely through the lens of the defense budget, while allowing our foreign affairs budget to atrophy. That’s why I released Rethinking the Battlefield -- a road map for rebuilding our foreign policy toolkit in order to keep pace with the global challenges we face today. My comprehensive plan calls for nearly doubling the U.S. foreign affairs budget—which includes the Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other agencies—with an emphasis on funding for international development, additional foreign service officers, anti-corruption efforts, countering propaganda, crisis response, and humanitarian relief.
U.S. national security and foreign policy need to catch up to the new set of threats posed to the United States and our allies, and as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, I have tried to lead the conversation on how U.S. policy and the tools at our disposal can transform to meet these unique challenges.