Here’s what Trump got right (and wrong) in his national security speech


President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks regarding the Administration’s National Security Strategy (White House/Flickr)

 

 

 

 

 

Listen to the 10 min audio

Read the transcript:

TOM LAMPRECHT:  Harry, yesterday, we talked about the tax package that was passed by Congress. There was another news story that made headlines last week and that was Donald Trump’s national security strategy speech.

To highlight the four pillars of that speech:

  • Protect the Homeland
  • Promote American Prosperity
  • Preserve Peace Through Strength
  • Advance American Influence.

WHY A NATIONAL SECURITY SPEECH?

DR. REEDER: Tom, it was given the name “The Sustainment Strategy of America First or American Greatness or American Exceptionalism” as the nickname it was given.

Every president in recent history has had a national security speech, but what is interesting is, our last two presidents, President Bush, it took him 20 months before he made one and it was on the heels of 9/11 and President Obama made his speech of “leading from behind” as a national security strategy and he made his speech, I think, it was 16 months. Now, President Trump has done so in less than 12 months.

It doesn’t make it good or bad – it’s just interesting. He had a team fully focused on this and this was something very important to him in terms of his promises in the campaign and so General McMaster, and Dina Powell and Nadia Schadlow were the ones that had been working so hard on it.

Nothing in it should surprise anyone, but I will confess the coherency of it somewhat surprises me and then there were a couple of things in it that did encourage me, overall. Let’s walk our way through that.

PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH

First of all, this national security strategy very much is a “peace through strength,” which has been the mantra of every president from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to the present except for President Obama. Every president has gone the route of “peace through strength.”

I actually like the way the speech said it: “If we do not build a military capable of winning any war, then we will not be capable of keeping the peace.”

If you have a military that is so overwhelmingly strong, then except for this terrorist approach to war, the regular conventional warfare, people are not going to want to do that because they know it is to their ultimate destruction.

This “peace through strength,” he put a big emphasis on technology. He did talk about increasing the number in our military forces of soldiers, and sailors and marines. He did mention also, over the next 12 months, of increasing the size of the navy to a 355-ship navy.

ECONOMIC STRENGTH CRUCIAL

One of his pillars in this is the importance of economic strength. Economic strength is what undergirds military strength and military strength should allow creativity and economic industrial activity.

However, he also made the point that he wanted to build the military from home-based factories and home-based manufacturing and home-based technological development – that the two work together. That was very much what Eisenhower developed and warned against – it’s called the “Military Industrial Complex” – but, very clearly, that in this speech he tied the two together.

He also gave a statement that provided somewhat of a moral underpinning to his America First idea. He made the point, “What I mean by America First is what I would expect, any leader of any nation that I’m talking with, I would expect them to be concerned for the country they’ve been elected to represent first.”

ALLIES … AND ENEMIES

He also did something that no other president has done in this: He actually called out, in the speech, Russia and China as threats to America’s security. Here is a guy being accused of colluding with Russia – being too close to them – but it’s interesting how, on his personal level, he keeps reaching out to their leaders trying to build a bridge but, in the public arena, he is identifying them as, right now, economic enemies and potentially military enemies and we have to be ready to defeat them on both fronts.

He also made a commitment to renewing the integrity of our relationship with our allies. To sum up, he said we’re going to protect the homeland, meaning our people and our economic well-being and our virtues.

OUR VALUES — NOT ANY ETHNICITY– MAKE AMERICA SUPERIOR

America is rightly so – this needs to be understood – America should not be seen in its strength in terms of an ethnic superiority of any one element of America, but of its values that are represented in its founding documents.

Now, he never defined virtues and values. I’m hoping that’s what somebody will point out to him – the values and virtues that are encased in our founding documents.

He also made the point that national security is tied to economic well-being and prosperity, again, the home industries being foundational for the military strength of the nation and, in the “peace through strength,” that he affirmed that as a strategy and that he would advance the interest of our values in other nations, but he is not going to engage in nation-building.

And, personally, I would say that is exactly what I think a government should be doing. A government is not a church to evangelize our way of life upon other people.

We can attract people to our way of life, we can use our strength to defend people who are under attack by despots and tyrants and we can be there for our allies, but our call is not to go into nations and undermine one national government to institute our own national government, but to have the kind of government and nation that will attract people to what we do.

WHAT WAS MISSING FROM SPEECH

Now, what was absent in it, I did not hear the resounding note of what is absolutely crucial to America – and many presidents have done this so it’s not unpresidential – and that is the spiritual strength of the people.

While I do not believe the government is to pick and choose losers and winners in the field of religion, it is to recognize the importance of it. That’s why, in the First Amendment, the first affirmation is the free practice of religion.

A government where the Constitution is king, a government that is a republic that works by consensus and covenant and a government of laws must be a government of a people who are a moral people. If we are not a moral people, then capitalism becomes greed and then people will find ways for segments of society to dominate other segments of society.

We need to be a moral people and that means the government must see, first of all, the value of the free practice of religion, protect the free practice of religion, promote the free practice of religion and affirm it publicly through its presidential proclamations.

I found that element missing. That’s an element that I’m hoping at least others within his cabinet and within his leadership team will promote.

WITHOUT THIS … WE’LL NEVER BE GREAT

A country will not stay strong just because it has a great economy and just because it has a great military. Its ability to sustain an economy and a military is directly related to the moral fiber of a nation and that’s related to the soul of a nation and that is no more than the sum impact of influential dynamics of a strength of spirituality. In our country, it has been two great awakenings and I’m praying for another great awakening.

Then again, having made that critique of the president, I would say the responsibility for the spiritual dynamic of this nation does not rest upon him – it rests upon the church of Jesus Christ and people like me. I need to get about the business about the Great Commission, making disciples; the Great Commandment, loving the Lord with all my heart, soul and mind and my neighbor – all my neighbors – as myself; and I need to be about a great commitment to lay down my life for Christ to reach this nation and to reach the world.

Tom, let me be very specific: The church of Jesus Christ needs to be sharing and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ – that He died for our sins and that He rose again – and you can know the eternal security of a relationship with Christ and you can share it and give it away to others. That’s what I am speaking of our strategy to reach a nation so that we might reach all the nations.

Dr. Harry L. Reeder III is the Senior Pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham.

This podcast was transcribed by Jessica Havin. Jessica is editorial assistant for Yellowhammer News. Jessica has transcribed some of the top podcasts in the country and her work has been featured in a New York Times Bestseller.

34 mins ago

Marsh bill to repeal Common Core approved by Senate committee

MONTGOMERY — Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh’s (R-Anniston) bill to eliminate Common Core in the state of Alabama was given a unanimous favorable recommendation by the Senate’s Education Policy Committee on Wednesday.

The bill, SB 119, is now set to be debated and considered on the Senate floor Thursday.

Marsh spoke about this bill during Yellowhammer Multimedia’s “News Shaper” event in Montgomery Tuesday evening after he filed the bill earlier that day.

He acknowledged that he has been a proponent of letting the state school board set education curriculum and standards policy in the past and even stopped an effort to repeal Common Core a few years ago. However, in Marsh’s view, Common Core has been given a chance now and it is time for the legislature to step in.

“It’s not working. I think we have to have some radical change with education policy in this state. And y’all know me, I’ve pushed a lot of things –  public charter schools, the Accountability Act. We’ve got to address this issue and it’s critical for this state,” Marsh said.

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He said eliminating Common Core would “clear the field” so the state could then move forward to better education outcomes.

Alabama would come up with its own high standards, premised on local control, under Marsh’s proposal.

He said his bill is cosponsored by all 27 of his Republican Senate colleagues and he expects SB 119 to pass the chamber and then receive similarly strong support in the House.

“I am committed to moving to a different standard that’s right for Alabama and moves us forward,” Marsh emphasized.

He also advised that there is a high level of politics involved in education decisions in the state but that sound policy must come first.

“[T]he education community, who I’ve asked to get this fixed, who have not addressed this, quite honestly I don’t think has put us in shape to move forward to address the problem at present. But I’m going to do all I can to see that it happens,” Marsh added.

Democrats on the Senate Education Policy Committee spoke in favor of keeping Common Core on Wednesday.

A career public school teacher from Lee County spoke in favor of eliminating Common Core at the hearing, while representatives from the state school superintendents association and the school boards association had concerns about the implementation of new standards.

Marsh said his bill will be amended before a vote by the full Senate to allow another national standard to be used if found to be best for Alabama, as the current language in his bill would ban any national standard from being adopted by the state school board.

Update, 11:35 a.m.:

State Sen. Sam Givhan (R-Huntsville) released a statement in support of Marsh’s bill.

“I strongly support Senator Marsh’s bill,” Givhan said. “The Common Core standards just haven’t worked for Alabama’s students, and the proof is evident in the data. In 2017, Alabama’s 8th grade math scores ranked 49th among the 50 states, and math scores for 4th grade students were 45th in the nation, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Common Core’s curriculum standards and guidelines have been in place for nine years, and they have failed Alabama’s students. It’s clear we need to look at alternative educational methods, with an emphasis on returning as much control as possible back to the local school districts.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

1 hour ago

Marsh, McCutcheon talk lottery, ethics clarifications at Yellowhammer ‘News Shaper’ event

MONTGOMERY — Speaking Tuesday evening at Yellowhammer Multimedia’s first “News Shaper” event of 2019, Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and House Speaker Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) provided their insight on some of the hot-button topics expected to be debated during the legislature’s ongoing regular session.

Yellowhammer owner and editor Tim Howe, who moderated the discussion, outlined uncertainty in the state’s ethics laws brought on by recent court and ethics commission decisions. Howe then asked the two leaders how they think the legislature can provide certainty and codified clarification moving forward, especially when it comes to defining a “principal.”

“There is no doubt that there’s a lot of uncertainty in the ethics legislation,” Marsh said. “The [Alabama Code of Ethics Clarification and Reform Commission] was set up to look over this, but in addition to that, both the Senate and the House – in the Senate you have Greg Albritton and in the House [you have] Mike Jones – working throughout the entire break on how we address this.”

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“And remember,” Marsh continued, “it’s not about 140 legislators, there are 50,000 people in the state of Alabama affected by the ethics law. I’m going to make a plea to my colleagues, some of whom are in this room tonight: If it’s going to be fixed, we’ve got to fix it.”

He emphasized, “[I]t’s not going to get any easier. You’ve got to face the issues. You’ve got to address it and realize this is about much [more] than the legislature. So, I’m hopeful.

Marsh also noted that the uncertainty in the ethics law has “affected economic development.”

“There’s a section there where the economic developers are having problems keeping the [confidentiality] in the process of recruiting industries. We’ve got to address this,” he advised. “And I’m hopeful that we will address it this year.”

Marsh added, “I know that both Senator Albritton and Representative Jones have been in conversation with the attorney general and the ethics commission, as well. So we’re going down a path to try and get everybody on the same page. But we have got to -trust me, ladies and gentleman – we have best fix this. It’s got to be done.”

Howe then asked Marsh to articulate why certainty in the ethics law for economic development professionals is important not just for them, but for the entire state and each of its residents.

“[I]t’s important for the state, because we’re competing with all of the other states,” Marsh said.

He used the example of a piece of legislation passed out of committee that very day largely dealing with Polaris vehicles built in north Alabama and explained that the site selection process requires confidentiality, with most economic development recruitment projects being given code names.

“Because we’re competing against other states. And if we’re not able to keep that degree of secrecy at that stage of the game, we’re at a disadvantage to our neighbors,” Marsh explained.

He concluded, “So this is something that we have got to address. But I’m going to say this: that’s [only] a piece of it. And there’s going to be an attempt by the business community and economic developers to pass the piece. But I think it’s [incumbent] upon us to pass the big picture, solve all the problems, because you want as many people with you, supporting you, to make the changes. Every time you carve off a little piece, you lose some support. So, as I said, I want to help everybody, but I’m committed to the big picture.”

Lottery

Howe later asked the speaker if the time has come for a lottery proposal to pass the legislature and reach a referendum of the people.

“I think so,” McCutcheon responded. “I think it’s been coming for several years. I know that the districts, House districts, that are [bordering other states], most of those districts have seen a significant shift over the last seven or eight years because they see Alabamians driving across the state line to buy lottery tickets.”

He continued, “And people are starting to talk about it, and they’re starting to make it part of their discussion around the dinner table. … At the end of the day, there’s a good push from the people.”

McCutcheon did emphasize what he viewed as key to a successful lottery discussion.

“If we’re going to put this to a vote of the people, and I think it has a good chance of passing, we need to make sure that people understand what they’re voting on,” he outlined. “That’s very, very important. We don’t want to cloud the issue with the definition of a ‘lottery’ and try to sneak something in the back door. Let’s make sure the people understand in their minds what a lottery is and we define it in such a way that they know what they’re voting on.”

“Then, I think the next big debate will be, ‘Where’s the money [lottery revenue] going to go?’ And that will be something that we’ll have to contend with,” McCutcheon concluded.

This came the same day that Senator Jim McClendon (R-Springville) filed a lottery proposal that was soon after called not “clean” by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, who said McClendon’s legislation would legalize slot machines in a select few places in the state.

Watch the entire discussion:

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

After 133 launches, Alabama built rockets boast 100% mission success

Thank you to the United Launch Alliance team and the entire workforce surrounding another successful launch.  Alabama’s Decatur based facility brings the utmost precision, passion and purpose to one of the most technically complex, critical American needs: affordable, reliable access to space.

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2 hours ago

Bipartisan bill to regulate vaping set for House committee hearing

MONTGOMERY — Alabama is currently one of only three states to not regulate vaping, but that could soon change.

HB 41, sponsored by Republican Rep. Shane Stringer and Democrat Rep. Barbara Drummond, both of Mobile County, is on the House Judiciary Committee’s agenda for Wednesday afternoon.

The bill would regulate the sale, use and advertisement of vaping – or “alternative nicotine products” – in the state.

In an interview with Yellowhammer News, both Drummond and Stringer emphasized that their bill is intended to protect the health and wellbeing of Alabama minors.

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“The motivation is simple,” Drummond emphasized. “We are trying to safeguard the teens in the state of Alabama.”

She outlined, “Vape shops, as it stands right now, are not regulated at all… And the bill came about because our drug education council locally brought it to our attention, but [Stringer and I] have both seen ourselves, as well as throughout the whole state, the rise of vape shops. They’re popping up everywhere in the state of Alabama.”

While it is too early to tell what vaping is directly doing to users’ health, Stringer and Drummond emphasized there is an objective gateway effect from vaping use and to smoking traditional cigarettes.

“Right now, there is no data that says what is the [direct] effect that these products are having on our young people. What we are seeing, and this is a national trend, is that you’re seeing smoking not going down, but increasing, among young people,” Drummond explained.

Stringer, a career law enforcement officer with stints as chief of multiple local police departments, said educators from every corner of Mobile County have voiced their concerns with the lack of state oversight on vape products and retailers “saying this is an epidemic and a problem what we need to address.”

“The products haven’t been out long enough to know the problems we could face in five, ten, 15 years from now,” he said. “It’s pretty similar to when smoking came out. There was basically no risk at that time, according to everyone. Now, look at all the data that we have to go with smoking… this is a new product we’re learning every day about.”

Stringer said statistics they were shown from the drug education council show an approximately 34 percent increase in children under 19-years-old that tried smoking after vaping.

“In Alabama, we don’t want to wake up one day and see the effects, negative effects on our kids,” Drummond added. “Right now, we’re trying to be responsible legislators to make sure that we look out for the welfare of our children.”

The two lawmakers also stressed that not only do vape shop operators have no restrictions on them, but the state has no way to even keep track of them currently.

Their bill would make it illegal to sell or give vape products to anyone under 19-years-old. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Board would regulate retail sales of the products, just as they do tobacco products. Retailers would have to obtain an annual permit, which includes an application fee of $300. Retailers would also have to comply with relevant FDA regulations and post signage warning of the dangers of nicotine usage.

Using vape products in certain places, including schools and child care facilities, would be prohibited.

‘This is something that is nonpartisan, it’s not anything that is about Republican or Democrat. This is something about our young people,” Drummond said. “Because if you look at the amount of nicotine that is showing up in these products, when they first hit the market, the nicotine levels were very low – like five percent. Now, it’s gone up to about ten percent. They’ve got other chemicals in there, like formaldehyde. What is the effect of that upon the brains of our kids? So, this is more of a public wellbeing bill for us.”

Stringer advised that he foresees widespread support in the legislature for the bill.

“Everyone agrees that there has to be some checks and balances [oversight] in place,” he concluded.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

3 hours ago

House Majority Leader Ledbetter predicts Alabama to ‘move to number one’ nationally in automotive production after Port of Mobile expansion

Tuesday on Huntsville’s WVNN radio, House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R-Rainsville) said he did not think it would be very long before Alabamians started to see tangible benefits of the Rebuild Alabama Act.

The legislation that was recently signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey after she called a special session will raise the gasoline tax six cents in September, then add an additional two cents in 2020 and 2021.

According to the DeKalb County Republican, road projects could start as early as the summer given the bill will allow for counties to bond half of the revenue the additional tax will generate that is distributed to the counties.

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“I really think it will be this summer,” Ledbetter said. “I think we’ll see it immediately, and the reason I say that is inside that bill there is a mechanism that the counties can use half of their money to bond with. So, I know there’s mine – I talked to the president of my county commission, and we’re looking at bonding half of that money. So if that happens, you’re going to see a lot of paving going down, and I think it will be significant, especially on those roads we can’t get buses across, or you know, the transportation has been limited due to the fact of the road conditions.”

Ledbetter also predicted one of the aspects of the law, which is to expand the Port of Mobile, will generate a positive impact statewide, especially with regards to the automotive industry.

“I don’t think there is any question about that,” he said. “The thing I think we’ll see – Alabama rank third as far as automotive manufacturing in the country. I think we’ll move to number one. I really do. I think this is that big of a game changer. I think aerospace engineering, and some of those jobs going to the port, building airplanes and building the ships – we’re going to move up the ladder because we got availability in the port to bring the ships in and out, the post-Panamax ships we hadn’t seen.”

“You know, the sad part about it is we build all these automobiles in Alabama – a lot of those were being shipped out of Savannah because we can’t get them out of our port,” Ledbetter added. “I think once this happens, we’ll see the roll off-roll on where we’ll be carrying cars to Mobile from Huntsville, from Lincoln, from here in Montgomery to see them delivered, or shipped out from Mobile.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.