Late last night I was finally able to read Mitt’s speech to the VFW, and I was struck by his consistent, critical emphasis on maintaining American strength. Here are the key graphs:
Like a watchman in the night, we must remain at our post — and keep guard of the freedom that defines and ennobles us, and our friends. In an American Century, we have the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world. In an American Century, we secure peace through our strength. And if by absolute necessity we must employ it, we must wield our strength with resolve. In an American Century, we lead the free world and the free world leads the entire world.
If we do not have the strength or vision to lead, then other powers will take our place, pulling history in a very different direction. A just and peaceful world depends on a strong and confident America. I pledge to you that if I become commander-in-chief, the United States of America will fulfill its duty, and its destiny.
American leadership depends, as it always has, on our economic strength, on our military strength, and on our moral strength. If any of these falter, no skill of diplomacy or presidential oratory can compensate.
This is exactly right. As we face an unthinking, draconian sequestration of our military budget, it’s worth asking: When has America ever suffered because of an excess in military strength? How many times have we suffered because of weakness?
Throughout our history we’ve paid a bloody price for military weakness. Military weakness has meant a White House burned, a secessionist movement that fed off early victories over ill-prepared troops, horrifying carnage in World War I as we spent the better part of a year ramping up our military to aid allies on the brink of defeat, months of Japanese victories following Pearl Harbor culminating in the Bataan Death March, and panicked retreats marking the beginning of the Korean War. How many times do we have to learn the same lessons?
In the present conflict, al-Qaeda exploited weakness in our will (it’s still astounding that we had to use Pakistani armor to help rescue American forces trapped in Mogadishu and that direct terrorist attacks resulted only in ineffectual volleys of cruise missiles) to build a terrorist sub-state in the middle of Afghanistan, and weakness in the face of 33 years of Iranian hostility has brought a terrorist state to the brink of nuclear capability.
For those who doubt the wisdom of American strength, I’d urge them to read Bing West’s, The Strongest Tribe, which details the absolute necessity of increased American strength and resolve in turning the tide in Iraq. We won by increasing, not decreasing, our footprint. We won by increasing, not decreasing, our use of force.
More than 200 years of American history have taught us a central truth — weakness is death; strength is life.
Disclaimer: In addition to my other professional activities, I’m a co-founder of Evangelicals for Mitt.