Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.) slammed her GOP colleagues who helped pass the automatic sequestration cuts to the defense budget and warned that they put the U.S. military at risk of “diminished capacity” during a speech on grand strategy at the Heritage Foundation on Wednesday.
“I’m proud to be a Republican, proud to be from the party of Ronald Reagan,” said Ayotte. “But the party of Ronald Reagan joined up with this administration to agree to make sequestration cuts to our department of defense that threaten the readiness of our forces.”
“I think, as a Republican in the party of Ronald Reagan, we shouldn’t have put our military on the chopping block,” Ayotte added.
The senator objected to arguments that defense spending is driving the nation’s deficit problems, and said entitlement spending is “crowding out the money that is needed to defend this nation.”
“National security spending accounts for less than 18 percent of federal outlays,” said Ayotte. “America’s danger is not military or imperial overstretch but rather entitlement overstretch.
“It’s both tragic and telling that by 2019 the United States will be spending more on interest on the debt than we will on defending this nation,” she added.
The senator was speaking at the Heritage Foundation to introduce the Project for the Common Defense, a nonpartisan coalition of national security policymakers and experts supported by the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.
Ayotte was critical of what she described as the Obama administration’s lack of grand national security strategy.
“Sadly today in Washington, we often find that the national security strategy and national military strategy documents coming from the administration amount to nothing more than naive wish-lists of desired outcomes, which seem to masquerading as strategic documents,” she said.
Ayotte said the Obama administration has failed to create effective policies to deal with the conflict in Syria, Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and Russian belligerence.
The Russian government’s refusal to extradite Edward Snowden to the United States highlights the failure of the Obama administration’s “reset” policy, said Ayotte.
“The administration trumpets the supposed reset policy with Russia, yet the Putin government has occupied Georgia, cracked down on the Russian people, continued to arm [Bashar al-] Assad over our objections … and just yesterday, of course, refused to extradite Edward Snowden,” she said.
The senator also objected to Obama’s call for further reductions of the U.S. nuclear arsenal during his speech in Berlin last week.
“Think about the message that sends at a time we are asking the Russians to send Mr. Snowden back to the United States of America so that he can face the charges he should face here,” said Ayotte. “How do we expect that that’s going to lead to a result that a.) is warranted, at a time with the threats that we face, and b.) that we’re going to be able to negotiate with the Russians in good faith and from a position of strength.”
Additionally, Ayotte criticized foreign policy “realists,” who she said create “a false dichotomy between America’s interests and our values.”
“Freedom and democracy are the best guarantors of peace. A government which does not respect its citizens’ rights and its international commitments to protect those rights, is not likely to respect its other international undertakings,” said Ayotte. “There are few ironclad laws in international relations, but democratic peace theory comes close.”