The first responsibility of a senator is to keep our country safe from foreign threats. To do this, the United States must have a comprehensive strategy that doesn’t just address one threat at a time. First, we must focus on the threat posed by Al-Qaeda and we must destroy its most potent offshoot, the Islamic State, or ISIS. But in addition to all that we also need to find new ways to engage with the world, to identify emerging threats, and to help other countries better understand our people and our values.
Destroying ISIS, Targeting New Terrorists Before They Strike
To defeat ISIS, we must make use of all our resources – military, financial, intelligence-based, and diplomatic – because choking off the lifeblood of such a dangerous group requires a comprehensive and sustained strategy.
First, we must continue to hunt down and kill ISIS’s leaders. As part of an assembled coalition, targeted, limited military action should weaken and dismantle ISIS’s leadership. Russ supports using expeditionary forces to conduct precise raids against these terrorist leaders.
And Congress must do its job by passing and sending to the President a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force to define the scope of our mission.
Crippling ISIS also requires blocking its access to income and supplies. That’s why Russ believes we must destroy ISIS’s ability to sell the oil resources they’re stealing, including from their new outpost in Libya. And that’s why we must find ways to cut off arms sales to the group so that it cannot hold territory or brutalize local populations.
We must also expand our intelligence efforts, beginning by increasing our funding for the collection and analysis of human intelligence to infiltrate ISIS. To do this, Russ calls on Congress to enact the reforms envisioned by the bipartisan Foreign Intelligence and Information Commission Act, which would strengthen how we gather information around the world.
Finally, we must undertake a massive diplomatic effort to address the underlying political problems in the region. Russ believes we must help foster stability and democracy through nonmilitary means in countries such as Syria and Libya. We must assist Turkey in closing its border. And we must debunk the myth that ISIS can govern, a myth undone by pictures of breadlines in the territories ISIS now controls.
National security doesn’t end with ISIS. We must never lose focus on Al-Qaeda, which continues to operate, albeit in crippled form. And we must anticipate the next radical group before it poses a threat, such as Boko Haram in Nigeria, which pledged loyalty to ISIS last year. All this requires sustained diplomatic and intelligence outreach to other countries; in other words, we simply cannot retreat from the rest of the world.
We must also find new ways to engage abroad, to help other countries understand our people and our values. That’s why Russ supports passing the Global Services Fellowship Act Program, which would fund programs to help Americans volunteer abroad, to build bridges to other countries, and to promote mutual understanding. This will help our country make more informed foreign policy decisions, and will help the world better understand who we are and what we believe.