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GUEST COLUMN... Power through strength

October 16, 2012
By BILL JOHNSON - United States Representative 6th District , Salem News

The American people long for peace. We have never entered a war lightly, and in all cases, we have done everything in our power to avoid armed conflict. But at the same time, we have always understood a basic truth-world peace is built on a foundation of American strength and American leadership.

That strength and that leadership have been tested as of late. With our economy faltering at home, it is difficult to maintain our position abroad. But we have suffered from more than just economic hardship; we face a crisis of confidence as well.

Four years ago, when Barack Obama was running for office, many feared that his inexperience would undermine American foreign policy. Hillary Clinton tapped into that fear with her famous campaign commercial asking whether Obama was ready for a 3 a.m. call about some development overseas. In the last four years, that fear has become reality.

We see it on our television screens every night. The Iranian regime, with its avowed hatred of the United States and its commitment to wipe Israel off the map, continues its march to nuclear capability. Four years ago, President Obama said he was committed to stopping the Iranian effort. And yet we now know, as illustrated starkly by Prime Minister Netanyahu at the U.N., that the Iranians are rapidly approaching a point of no return in their efforts.

As things are worsening in Iran, they are also deteriorating across the Muslim world. Mobs have marched on our embassies chanting "Death to America" on the anniversary of September 11 and in the weeks after. Our ambassador to Libya and three other Americans have been murdered. Tens of thousands have died under the oppressive Syrian regime that shows no sign of loosening its grip on the population.

In a world that seems to be spinning out of control, American leadership is needed now more than ever.

Mitt Romney understands that. As he said in his recent speech at the Virginia Military Institute, it was American strength that kept the peace in the 20th century, and it will be that same strength that keeps the peace in the 21st. That doesn't mean more war. In fact, it means having a military that is so strong that no one will challenge us and a diplomatic effort built on that strength, one that leaves no doubt where we stand.

Romney's effort will begin with restoring our economy, the engine that drives American strength. But it also means restoring our confidence on the world stage. We can't remain passive. We can't lead from behind. We can't allow Russia and China to use their U.N. veto power to dictate our foreign policy.

Thirty-two years ago, America faced a similar low-point in her power. The debate in the presidential election of that day-with a rising Soviet Union looming in the background-was also about the future. Some fretted that the era of our greatness had passed, and that the Republican nominee was at best foolish to assert otherwise and was at worst inviting war by doing so.

But in that election the voters chose American rebirth over American decline. After eight years of President Reagan, the Iron Curtain crumbled, the Soviet Union fell, and a new day of freedom dawned over Europe.

The problems that we face today are new and different, but they are not such that we cannot overcome them. We just need the right leader to show the way, and the courage to support him.



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