The United States has many complex foreign relationships. Being the world’s only superpower requires dealing with the good, the bad and the ugly of nation-states. The good are obvious. They are America’s allies and partners who we share common interests and values. The bad are America’s adversaries, who often sponsor terrorism, undermine our goals, and flaunt their disdain for the United States. Then there are the ugly. The Benedict Arnold of states that say they are our friends, take billions in U.S. aid, then back the very terrorists that are killing Americans. The ugliest of the bunch is Pakistan.

Pakistan has a long duplicitous relationship with the U.S. Throughout most of the Cold War, America and Pakistan worked closely to contain Soviet advances in South Asia. This working relationship peaked in the 1980s when the CIA and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, partnered to bleed the Soviet Union in Afghanistan by providing covert assistance to the Afghan anti-communist rebels. But even as the U.S. bolstered Pakistan’s own defenses, Islamabad was covertly developing a nuclear weapons program that it would later use to proliferate nuclear technology to Libya, North Korea and Iran — the who’s who of bad actors.

In the coming weeks, President Trump is expected to announce the White House’s intentions to roll back our nation’s policies on Cuba. The details of what changes will be made are not known, but the potential economic impact could be significant: a $6.6 billion hit. That’s meaningful to American companies who have begun to make investments and to American workers and farmers supporting exports to a reopened market. It’s time to move forward after nearly six decades of failed policy with Cuba.
The terrorist attacks that have swept the United Kingdom mark yet another chapter in the long war by violent Islamist extremists against the free world. Terrorism in Europe is not a new phenomenon. The fact that three attacks have struck Britain in the last three months alone exposes that despite safeguards and a vast understanding of the terrorist threat, much more must be done to defeat these radical killers.
The Hill


Russian President Vladimir Putin has been allowed for too long to get away with lawless behavior without serious pushback from the U.S. and its allies. He has spent well over a decade doing everything in his power to undermine the security system put in place at the end of the Cold War, threatening international security and stability.

First he invaded Georgia in 2008. Then Moscow illegally seized and annexed Crimea in 2014 and invaded portions of eastern Ukraine. Putin’s troops are still illegally occupying territory in these sovereign countries.

But the kleptocrat of the Kremlin did not stop there: Under his watch, Russia has been systematically cheating on important arms control agreements, first and foremost the 1987 Intermediate-Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty; this violation directly threatens the security of the American people and calls into question Russian adherence to other treaties like the 2011 New Strategic Arms Reduction (START) Treaty.

In 1987, the United States and the Soviet Union signed the INF Treaty, which prohibited the flight, production or possession of all ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. The signing of the treaty was a monumental and unique accomplishment in arms control: It was the first, and is still the only, treaty to not simply reduce or limit the number of a class of weapon but to actually prohibit a category of weapons outright. It marked a crucial step toward ensuring European stability and securing U.S. interests in the region. And it marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War on terms dictated by the United States and the West.

For eight years, I have joined my colleagues in the fight to repeal and replace the train wreck that is Obamacare. This was the call heard around the nation for years, particularly leading up to President Trump's historic victory. We promised the American people that if they supported us, help would be on the way. As a conservative, I believe that the federal government should have a limited role in our personal lives, including health care. As a cancer patient, I knew the importance of getting this bill right and replacing Obamacare with a patient-centered solution that also ensures access to care for the nearly 30 percent of Americans with pre-existing conditions. But as the American Health Care Act teetered on the edge of a cliff, it was the Freedom Caucus that helped give it the final push.
Whether it is the food we eat, the cars we drive, the light bulbs we use to light our homes, or the clothing we wear, every American household is impacted every single day by the activity of our ports. This activity accounts for over a quarter of our economy, generating trillions of dollars and bringing in over $300 billion in tax revenue each year. As Co-Chairs of the Congressional PORTS Caucus, it is our privilege and duty to be the voice of one of our nation’s top economic engines.
For years and, we would say, for decades, the United States has acquiesced in a toxic relationship with Pakistan, putting up with this nominal ally whose military and security leaders play a lethal double game. Most dangerously, the “game,” if one can call it that, involves headlong nuclear-weapons production and exporting Islamist terrorism.

Successive U.S. administrations haven’t found a way out of this, playing instead the theater of “shared interests” with Islamabad, even when Pakistan’s links with insurgents imperil American lives in Afghanistan while feeding wider instability in central Asia.
This past summer President Obama threatened to put Britain “at the back of the queue” for a trade deal with the United States should the British vote to leave the European Union and reclaim their independence. Despite such intimidations, on July 23, 2016 the British people spoke. They chose to throw off the EU’s shackles and take charge of their own economic future in the historic Brexit referendum.

With Russia to its north looking to reestablish its empire and terrorists to its south bent on creating an Islamic caliphate, Turkey should have every reason to look west. But under the reign of President Erdogan, Turkey has undergone massive shifts in its foreign policy that NATO has yet to respond appropriately to or even fully appreciate.

If you’re wondering what Erdogan’s current thinking is on Turkey’s relationship with NATO, look no further than his reaction to a failed coup attempt against him in mid-July. In the immediate days that followed the coup attempt, Erdogan spread rumors that the U.S., a fellow NATO member, was behind it and cut off power to the Incirlik Airfield, an airfield that has been critical to U.S. efforts to stage air campaigns against ISIS. Power was eventually restored, but the relationship between these two NATO countries has not recovered as quickly. In the months that followed, Erdogan, who has led the country either as president or prime minister since 2003, suspended or fired over 100,000 judges, police, teachers and soldiers. Erdogan also recalled 149 of Turkey’s military envoys to NATO, most of whom were arrested and imprisoned upon their arrival back in Turkey. Ostensibly, these envoys’ very association with NATO made them guilty of treason in Erdogan’s mind. Such is the lack of trust he has for the NATO alliance.

Over the last few years, one of the biggest threats to NATO members has been ISIS. As a NATO partner on the frontlines of Iraq and Syria, Turkey, perhaps more than any other member of the alliance, has the ability to effectively reduce the strength of ISIS, but Turkey’s actions against ISIS have been frustratingly slow. For years, Turkey was known as the key transit point for foreign fighters who wanted to travel to Iraq and Syria to fight for ISIS. It was not just people that Erdogan let through, but weapons too. According to a prosecutor and court testimony, during late 2013 and early 2014, Turkey’s state intelligence agency helped deliver arms to ISIS. After four trucks full of rocket parts, ammunition and semi-finished mortar shells were seized by police in southern Turkey, intelligence officials accompanying the cargo threatened police and physically resisted the search, forcing the police to allow three of the trucks to continue into Syria. Erdogan later would comment that the trucks were carrying aid and had those who conducted the search detained. Launched this past August, “Operation Euphrates Shield” was supposed to be Turkey’s way of showing NATO that it was finally serious about fighting ISIS. But beyond clearing a town controlled by ISIS on the Turkish border, the military operation has been more focused on slowing the progress of Kurdish forces who have been beating back ISIS rather than truly targeting ISIS. Turkey, it turns out, still does not view ISIS as a significant threat, regardless of the effect ISIS is having on its fellow NATO members.

There is more troubling news. Just ten months after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet that had encroached upon Turkey’s airspace, Erdogan and Vladimir Putin met in Moscow on August 9 and seemed to have buried the hatchet as they emphasized their desire to rebuild ties and called each other “dear friend” and a “valued ally”. If this summit meeting does indeed presage a real rapprochement between Ankara and Moscow, it would represent a dangerous new threat to NATO. After all, it is no secret that Putin wants to weaken Turkey’s attachment to NATO.

Turkey is its own sovereign nation. It has the freedom to pursue whatever alliances and foreign policy objectives it sees fit. However, NATO must be clear to Erdogan about the consequences of his decisions. From military cooperation to intelligence sharing to having a seat at the table about the future of the region, there are still many ties that bind NATO and Turkey together. But Erdogan has frayed these ties, and NATO must wake up to the fact that someday soon Erdogan could cut them altogether. Before that day comes, NATO must be ready. And that’s just the way it is.

Al Qaeda on the Rise

December 12, 2016

With its gruesome beheadings, control of broad swaths of territory, inspiration of attacks on the West, and ability to recruit thousands of foreign fighters, it is no wonder that ISIS has been the terrorist group getting all the attention in the media. But there is a cold, hard reality that we must recognize: al-Qaeda is back.

After 9/11, the target fell squarely on al-Qaeda’s back. The US and its allies brought the full force of their military power down on bin Laden and his henchman, immediately putting them on the run in the mountains of Afghanistan. Knowing he could no longer run al Qaeda like he had in the past, bin Laden flattened the organization out, giving more sovereignty to its affiliates in places like Iraq, Yemen, and Somalia. But in 2011, bin Laden’s luck ran out when US Special Forces eliminated him in his hideout in Pakistan. Without its founder and leader, many speculated the organization would no longer pose a threat to the United States. In fact, President Obama himself said as much in a May 2013 address to the nation, arguing that America was at a “crossroads” and the time for “continual warfare” had come to an end.

Soon thereafter, the world’s gaze shifted off of al Qaeda an on to ISIS, an old al Qaeda affiliate in Iraq that broke off because it did not believe al Qaeda was aggressive enough. ISIS was set on establishing the Islamic caliphate now, while al Qaeda thought that doing so was premature. When ISIS gained more and more land in Iraq and Syria and began bringing in millions of dollars of revenue from oil and extortion, recruits flocked to it, believing the caliphate was here to stay. For radical Islamic terrorists, ISIS was the new, cool kid on the block. Al Qaeda, it seemed, was destined to irrelevance if not strategic defeat.

This played right into al Qaeda’s hands. With the spotlight no longer on it, al Qaeda took advantage of being able to operate much more openly than before. In Afghanistan, al Qaeda worked with its longtime ally the Taliban to take advantage of the complete withdrawal of foreign combat troops. Today, it controls more territory than at any time since 2001. Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, known as AQAP, successfully seized and held territory for the first time in years. Al-Qaeda’s Somali affiliate, al-Shabaab decimated its ISIS rivals in the country and continued to wage war against the government. Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, is completely entrenched in the Syrian civil war, where it holds territory and is one of the most lethal fighting forces in the country, ensuring its presence and relevance for the foreseeable future. In Libya, the al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia is quietly building durable alliances with various tribes and extremist groups while enjoying safe haven thanks to a lack of government control of the country.

Al Qaeda also used ISIS’ rise as an opportunity to rebrand itself as the ‘reasonable’ organization compared to the more ‘extremist’ ISIS. It has started focusing more on winning over local populations and even engaging governmental authorities about how they could work together to counter ISIS. Al Qaeda was successfully becoming more mainstream.

Today, the trend lines have shifted. ISIS is losing territory in Iraq and Syria. With less people under its rule to extort, its revenue stream is falling, as is the rate of foreign fighters coming into ISIS’ ranks. It turns out, ISIS may be the flash in the pan compared to the slow boil of al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is playing the long game.

Whatever may be the future fate of ISIS or al Qaeda, what is clear is that al Qaeda is not decimated or even on the run, as the President has claimed. The events over the last five years have exposed the President’s tactic of “decapitation” of al Qaeda’s leaders to be a woefully insufficient strategy to defeat al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is back. We better get ready.