The president's policies have made it harder to recover from the deepest recession in seventy years, exposed the military to cuts that no one can justify, compromised our national-security secrets, and in dealings with other nations, he has given trust where it is not earned, insult where it was not deserved, and apology where it is not due.
From Berlin to Cairo to the United Nations, President Obama has shared his view of America and its place among nations. I've come here today to share mine.
I am an unapologetic believer in the greatness of America. I am not ashamed of American power. I take pride that throughout history our power has brought justice where there was tyranny, peace where there was conflict, and hope where there was affliction and despair. I do not view America as just one more place on the map, one more power to be balanced. I believe our country is the greatest force for good the world has ever known, and that our influence is needed today as ever before....
A just and peaceful world depends on a strong and confident America....
Now our leadership depends, as it always has, on our economic strength, on our military strength, and on our moral strength. If any one of those falters, no skill of diplomacy or presidential oratory can compensate. And today, as you know, the strength of our economy is in jeopardy.
A healthy American economy is what underwrites American power. When growth is missing, government revenues fall, social spending rises, and many in Washington look to cut defense spending as the easy way out. That includes our current president....
Strategy is not driving the president's massive defense cuts. In fact, his own Secretary of Defense warned that these reductions would be "devastating." And he's right.
And that devastation would start here at home. Mark my words: Those cuts would only weaken an already stretched VA system and our solemn commitment that every veteran receives care second to none. If I am President of the United States, I will not let that happen.
This is no time for the president's radical cuts in our military.... The regime in Tehran is drawing closer to developing a nuclear weapon. The threat of radical Islamic terrorism persists. The threat of weapons of mass destruction proliferation is ever-present. And we're still at war and still have uniformed men and women in conflict.
All this and more is going on in the world. And yet the president has chosen this moment for wholesale reductions in the nation's military capacity. When the biggest announcement in the last state of the union address on improving our military was the Pentagon will start using more clean energy, then you know it's time for a change....
Lives of American servicemen and women are at stake. But astonishingly, the administration failed to change its ways. More top-secret operations were leaked, even some involving covert action going on in Iran.
This isn't a partisan issue; it's a national security crisis. Just yesterday, Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein, who's chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said, and I quote, "I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks." End of quote.
This conduct is contemptible. It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field. And it demands a full and prompt investigation by a special counsel, with explanation and consequence. Obama appointees who are accountable to President Obama's attorney general should not be responsible for investigating the leaks coming from the Obama White House.
Whoever provided classified information to the media, seeking political advantage for the administration, must be exposed, dismissed, and punished. The time for stonewalling is over....
And let me be very clear: These events make the decision we face in November all the more important. What kind of White House would reveal classified material for political gain?...
The operating principle of American foreign policy has been to work with our allies so that we can deter aggression before it breaks out into conflict. That policy depends on nurturing our alliances and standing up for our values.
Yet the president's moved in the opposite direction.
It began with the sudden abandonment of our friends in Poland and the Czech Republic. They'd courageously agreed to provide sites for anti-missile defense systems, only to be told, at the last hour, that the agreement was off. As part of the so-called reset in policy, missile defenses were sacrificed as a unilateral concession to the Russian government.
And if that gesture was designed to inspire good will from Russia, it clearly missed the mark. The Russian government defended the dictator in Damascus, arming him as he slaughtered the Syrian people.
We can only guess what Vladimir Putin makes of the Obama administration. He regained the Russian presidency in a corrupt election, and for that, he got a congratulatory call from the Oval Office. And then there was that exchange picked up by a microphone that President Obama didn't know was on. We heard him asking Dmitry Medvedev to tell Mr. Putin to give him "space." "This is my last election," he said. "After my election I'll have more flexibility."
Why is it that flexibility with Russian leaders is more important to him than transparency for the American people?...
[T]his is the president who faltered when the Iranian people were looking for support in their struggle against the ayatollahs. That public uprising was treated as an inconvenient problem for the president's policy of engagement, instead of a moral and strategic opportunity. That terrible misjudgment should never be repeated. When unarmed women and men in Tehran find the courage to confront their oppressors, at risk of torture and death, they should hear the unequivocal voice of an American president affirming their right to be free....
President Obama is fond of lecturing Israel's leaders. He was even caught by a microphone deriding them. He's undermined their position, which was tough enough as it was. And even at the United Nations, to the enthusiastic applause of Israel's enemies, he spoke as if our closest ally in the Middle East was the problem.
The people of Israel deserve better than what they've received from the leader of the free world. And the chorus of accusations and threats and insults at the United Nations should never again include the voice of the President of the United States.
There are values and causes and nations that depend on American strength, on the clarity of our purpose, and on the reliability of our commitments. There is work in this world that only America and our allies can do, hostile powers that only we can deter, and challenges that only we can overcome....
I've been critical of the president's decision to withdraw the surge troops during the fighting season against the advice of commanders on the ground. The president would have you believe that anyone who disagrees with his decision is arguing for endless war. But the route to more war — and potentially to attacks here at home — is a politically timed retreat....
It's a mistake — and sometimes a tragic one — to think that firmness in American foreign policy can only bring tension or conflict. The surest path to danger is always weakness and indecision. In the end, it's resolve that moves events in our direction, and strength that keeps the peace.
I will not surrender America's leadership in the world. We must have confidence in our cause, clarity in our purpose, and resolve in our might.
This is very simple: If you don't want America to be the strongest nation on earth, I'm not your president. But with his cuts to the military, you have that president today.
The twenty-first century can and must be an American Century. It began with terror, war, economic calamity. It's our duty to steer it onto the path of freedom and peace and prosperity.
Fewer members of the Greatest Generation are with us here today — and they can't hold the torch as high as they have in the past; they're getting older. It's now our turn: We've got to seize that torch they've carried so gallantly and at such great sacrifice. It's an eternal torch of decency and freedom and hope. It's not America's torch alone. But it's America's duty and honor to hold it high enough so the whole world can see it.
I love America. I love what America represents. I love the sacrifice America has made for Freedom throughout the world.
This is a critical time for our nation — a time of choice. The time to determine what America is going to be over this century. You know where I will lead it: We will have another American Century with freedom blossoming and prosperity for all of our citizens, because I believe in America. I believe in you.
I salute you. And together we'll make sure we keep America the hope of the earth.
Thank you so very much. And God bless the VFW and the United States of America.
Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention
July 24, 2012