McConnell: America, Allies Cannot Give In To Distraction, Division, Self-Deterrence

‘Deterring China means defeating Russian aggression. Degrading Russia’s military means weakening Beijing’s ‘friendship without limits’ with Moscow. Equipping Ukraine to defend itself means confronting the PRC with the thing it hates the most: sovereign nations that choose their leaders and defend their interests.’

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding national security priorities:

“The People’s Republic of China is the single greatest strategic challenge facing the United States. It poses a potentially existential threat to our friends in the region, and a growing threat to allies in Europe, as well.

“The PRC is working to undermine the prevailing order that has maintained major power peace for eight decades. And it’s useful to think about this challenge from our adversary’s position.

“President Xi aims to expand China’s influence at our expense, to rewrite the rules of the road, and to dominate his neighbors. Each of these tasks becomes easier the more the West is distracted, divided, and deterred. And depending on the choices America and our allies make, our adversaries may succeed without even trying.

“Are we distracted? Ask Beijing what it thinks about the Western diplomatic energy expended on unenforceable climate mandates while Chinese industry accelerates its carbon emissions. Our adversaries must scratch their heads at some of the things about which Western leaders obsess.

“Are we divided? The PRC clearly hopes that the West’s shared values are not as strong as our adversaries’ shared disdain for them.

“Beijing no doubt enjoys watching the United States abandon allies in Afghanistan, second-guess allies in Israel, and initiate trade fights with its closest allies rather than China

“Are we deterred? We are self-deterred. Hesitation and hand-wringing over fears of escalation have become hallmarks of the Biden Administration’s foreign policy.

“Right now, you’d be forgiven for wondering whether President Biden might take longer to respond to the Iran-backed strike that killed U.S. soldiers in Jordan than he did to finally approve long-range fires for Ukraine.

“The Administration’s public obsession with avoiding escalation at all cost only signals to our adversaries that, indeed, authoritarians can take what they want by force.

“Fortunately, Putin’s aggression has clarified our allies’ thinking. The West is waking up, turbocharging investments in new capabilities, and accelerating the expansion of our own defense industrial base.

“Beijing and Moscow are not happy to see war in Ukraine prompt two more highly-advanced European nations make historic new commitments to collective defense of the West by joining NATO. They’re not happy to see America’s allies direct a gusher of historic military investments into cutting-edge American weapons made by American workers.

“In the past two years, Pacific allies like Japan, South Korea, and Australia have been buying American to the tune of tens of billion of dollars. NATO allies have invested $120 billion dollars of their own in U.S. capabilities.

“And importantly, they’re also investing in expanding their own defense industrial capacity.

“Our allies recognize that Russia, China, and Iran are, as Secretary General Stoltenberg put it just yesterday here in Washington, ‘shaping an alternative world order where U.S. power is diminished, [and] NATO is divided.’

“And in response, they’re rejecting division and committing to interoperability and collective defense. In many ways, NATO is now more united than during the Cold War.

“But this progress is not a given. It depends on American leadership. And it is quite capable of unraveling. President Xi would like nothing more. 

“There’s really no quicker way to make sure we’ll be distracted from necessary competition with China than by letting Russian aggression in Europe fester. There’s no surer path to dividing America from our closest allies than by shredding our credibility and abandoning Ukraine.

“The PRC hopes that America and our allies will lose our will to stand up to Russia’s aggression. President Xi hopes for Russian victory, but will benefit from a frozen conflict. As they watch Russia fight in Ukraine, what Beijing and Tehran fear is Western victory.

“We must understand the threats our adversaries pose are connected. China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea are making alarming new commitments to support and underwrite one another’s aggressive behavior.

“Our Asian allies know it. They know that by leaving Russia undefeated means leaving the PRC undeterred. And their security assistance to Ukraine demonstrates how seriously they take these linked threats.

“There is also growing transatlantic agreement that China is a systemic rival and a revisionist power. 

“When the most successful military alliance in history stands together, it represents fully half of the world’s military power and half of its economic power.

“NATO is a formidable force that inspires confidence and collaboration among an even wider circle of allies and partners – particularly in the Indo-Pacific.

“But when America and our allies let aggression linger undefeated, this force is spread thin. And Beijing wants nothing more than to face a West still consumed by self-deterrence in a conflict halfway around the world.

“Europe has woken up. It’s outpacing America in direct assistance to Ukraine – with another 50 billion euros in assistance announced just today. This is good news.

“But even as our European allies ramp up their support, strengthen their defenses, upgrade their capabilities, and expand their defense industrial capacity, America doesn’t get to opt out of doing the same.

“Even as our most technologically advanced allies take historic steps forward, America doesn’t have the luxury of pawning off our interests.

“Deterring China means defeating Russian aggression.

“Degrading Russia’s military means weakening Beijing’s ‘friendship without limits’ with Moscow.

“Equipping Ukraine to defend itself means confronting the PRC with the thing it hates the most: sovereign nations that choose their leaders and defend their interests.

“Strengthening America’s national security means standing with our allies and investing even more heavily in the capabilities we need to face our top strategic rival – and every threat we face – with formidable American strength.”


Related Issues: Iran, Ukraine, China, Russia, North Korea, NATO