President Obama was elected on the promise of “change,” and there is no doubt that he delivered. It just wasn’t the kind of change America needed.
Today our nation’s security is weaker and worldwide threats have proliferated.
Indeed, over the course of eight years, the Obama administration alienated our allies, accommodated our adversaries, and forgot about the foes plotting to do us harm.
That’s partly why Americans sent such a powerful message on Election Day and voted for someone who believes we must project strength to protect our homeland.
But the road ahead for our new commander in chief will not be easy.
First, our friends no longer trust us.
Too often President Obama shunned our foreign partners in favor of hostile nations, sowing uncertainty from Western Europe to East Asia.
He remained consistent to the very end—feverishly implementing a misguided nuclear deal with the world’s number-one state sponsor of terror, Iran, while deliberately allowing one of our closest partners, Israel, to get ambushed at the United Nations.
Such actions have made our allies less likely to defend U.S. interests and have driven others to seek closer relations with rival powers.
Second, our adversaries feel emboldened.
Obama not only catered to them, he also declined to exert U.S. leadership on critical issues, creating power vacuums that were filled by the likes of Russia, China, and Iran.
These nations have expanded their spheres of influence, frequently at our expense.
Russian meddling is a prime example. Would the Kremlin have interfered in our election if the Obama administration had forcefully stood up to Putin in places like Ukraine and Syria?
We’ll never know, but at a minimum Moscow might have been deterred from being so brazen.
Finally, our enemies are deadlier.
On Obama’s watch, we witnessed the historic spread of radical Islamist terror. And because of his Administration’s negligence, jihadists claim greater operating space and more recruits than ever before.
Terror plotting against the West has also reached unprecedented levels, especially in the United States.
Yet incredibly, in his final days in office Obama still seemed more focused on emptying the terrorist prison at Guantanamo Bay—freeing final batches of extremists—than with defeating our enemies.
Make no mistake: many of these hardened jihadists, whose hateful worldview Obama hesitates to name, will go back to fighting a war his administration had no strategy to win.
According to intelligence officials, scores of them already have.
Thankfully, the Trump administration is ready to turn the page.
Already, President Trump has put together a strong national security team filled with clear-eyed realists who see the threats for what they are, not what they wish they were.
General John Kelly has the no-nonsense approach needed to secure our borders and keep terrorists away from our shores.
General James Mattis is a bold leader and respected soldier who can restore our military might.
Rex Tillerson is the kind of CEO who will do a business-like “turnaround” of the State Department and its broken diplomacy.
And Rep. Mike Pompeo knows the CIA well enough to give our spies the tools they need to protect us.
But it’s not just about who is standing in each department or agency post—it’s about what we stand for as a nation.
As President Trump has said, American values are the bedrock of Western civilization, and we are safer in a world where those values are shared and defended.
That is why we cannot falter in championing our ideals and interests abroad, nor should we apologize for doing so.
Gone are the years of indecision, when Washington’s reluctance signaled weakness to the rest of the world.
The Trump administration heralds a return to strength, and Congress will work to help the new president repair our relations, stand up to our rivals, and bring justice to our enemies.
America’s voice was heard on Election Night. And on the world stage, American leadership will soon be seen again.
Republican Michael McCaul, represents Texas’ 10th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves as chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.