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Quigley: Trump’s “America First” Foreign Policy Is Blatantly Un-American

Nov 14, 2017

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, spoke on the House Floor in opposition to President Trump’s “America First” foreign policy agenda, which sends the wrong signal to the global community that the United States is relinquishing its leadership role in protecting shared values and strengthening diplomacy world-wide.

Click here to watch the video or see the full remarks, as prepared for delivery, below.

Mr. Speaker: Last week, President Trump visited Asia for the first time as Commander-in-Chief and took the opportunity, while on foreign soil, to reiterate his “America First” doctrine.

I rise today because an “America First” mentality will not lead to success for the United States or the world. This way of thinking is outdated, obsolete, and dangerous. Ironically, this phrase—one he ran on during the campaign and continues to push in the Oval Office—paints a picture that is blatantly un-American.

“America First” sends a signal to the global community that the United States no longer wants to carry the torch of freedom and democracy, which shines brighter through inclusion and collaboration.

On the national security front, the United States has the strongest military the world has known. For decades, allies have counted on the U.S. to step up to the plate and protect the shared values we hold dear.

We now have a president who would rather sow division and pick fights wherever possible. For example, saying the United States is “losing” to other countries and resorting to name calling with global leaders.

As we face numerous international challenges—both old and new—we need to put more faith and investment into our international and diplomatic institutions, not weaken them. The United States did not earn its reputation as leader of the free world by standing back and allowing darker forces to prevail.

As suppressive regimes like Russia seek to undermine democracies, including our own, America’s commitment to democracy must be stronger than ever.

The president’s threats to NATO and the UN have caused our trusted allies to question our commitments to collective defense. We know that when countries work in concert, the chance of conflict decreases.

Despite its challenges, globalization has led to one of the most peaceful and productive times in world history. Adopting protectionist policies would stifle this progress, and certainly won’t put America first.

Our efforts to address difficult domestic and international challenges are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they can and should happen simultaneously.

We defeated communism, in part, by showing the world that a commitment to democracy and expanding economic opportunity makes peoples’ lives better and nations more secure.

Meeting our commitments overseas also makes us stronger and safer here at home. Standing up against the isolationist tide sweeping the globe is critical to preserving our leadership role.

Take the president’s decision to pull out from the Paris Climate Agreement as another example. By abandoning our partnership with every other country in the world, the president has put our credibility—and our earth—at risk. We are now the only nation not participating in this historic climate pact.

To reassert our integrity for global leadership, we must lead by example. This includes recalling lessons learned from earlier periods of isolationism.

Relinquishing ground in this area creates a vacuum, which less-friendly, less-democratic actors are prepared and capable to fill.

The Russians and Iranians have expanded their role in the Middle East. China has grown far too assertive in the South China Sea.

These facts withstanding, abdicating global leadership, praising authoritarian regimes and belittling allies has been a hallmark of the Trump presidency. This does not put America – or our interests – first.

Our UN and NATO partnerships should not just be honored and preserved, but strengthened, if we are serious about taking on terrorism, cybersecurity threats, and other dangers that jeopardize the peace of our planet.

Instead of distinguishing between winners and losers and sowing division where it need not exist, we must acknowledge our shared goals and values with our allies around the world. Our commitment to democracy and diplomacy is what has always made our nation great.