Speech, January, 2015 to Henry Jackson Society in London
My objective in this speech is to speak clearly about what I believe to be America’s proper role in international affairs; to speak bluntly about the nature of the threats we face and the recent tragic events in France; and to suggest what I think is the way forward.
The first step for America, and for any nation that wants to protect its own freedom and encourage it everywhere is to have a strong economy.
It all starts there.
Without a strong economy, it at some point becomes impossible to build and sustain a strong military.
You have to have both in order to have a strong presence in the world.
Leaders who understand each of these particular elements of statecraft have the ability to lead a nation, defend its interests, encourage its allies and face down its enemies.
When the United States became a major economic power at the end of the 19th century, it had the means to become a major military power and to become a leader in the free world.
Visionary and bold American leaders like Theodore Roosevelt understood that and asserted leadership accordingly.
The result was a United States that, in concert with its democratic allies here in Great Britain and elsewhere, was capable of delivering the world from two devastating world wars.
The greatest resurgence of leadership in the cause of freedom in our lifetimes occurred under Ronald Reagan and of course Margaret Thatcher here in the United Kingdom.
These two leaders understood what it takes, and they successfully defeated the Soviets in the Cold War and broadened the scope of freedom in the world â€’ again.
Today, we face other vicious and implacable threats in the form of radical Islam, a nuclear armed North Korea, possibly a soon-to-be nuclear armed Iran, and a resurgent expansionist Russia.
How to face down and neutralize these threats is not a mystery.
The tried and true prescription must be employed again: a strong economy, a strong military, and leaders willing and able to assert moral, economic and military leadership in the cause of freedom.
I believe that American foreign policy should stand on three basic principles – Freedom, Security, and Truth.
Allow me to explain.
It starts with Freedom. My parents immigrated to America more than 40 years ago.
Just like the pilgrims who migrated from Europe to North America, they were not really coming to a place or to a physical location.
They were coming to an idea. And that idea was freedom.
So the first tenet of American foreign policy must always be freedom, and the relentless pursuit of freedom for our people, and for all people, regardless of race, creed, religion, ethnicity, or any other artificial divisions, which humans use to divide us one from another.
America must always be a beacon of freedom throughout the world.
I’m not naive enough to suggest that the entire world will ever be free, but I’m also completely opposed to ever giving up on the notion that all people everywhere in the world deserve and desire to be free.
In other words, we may never achieve perfection in this world, or in our personal lives for that matter, but that is no reason not to chase after it.
What does it mean to be free?
Well, it means the ability to conduct commerce both inside and outside your borders, it means the right to speak freely, to publish any cartoons you want, it means the right to worship freely, it means the right to self-determination.
The next principle is of course security.
America must and will pay any price to defend itself and to defend its allies.
No two countries are the same, but those countries that value freedom and democracy and civility and decency must band together, and must defend each other.
Those countries that desire security and harbor no ill will toward their neighbors must stick together in an increasingly dangerous world.
The third principle that is crucial is truth.
We must speak the truth, to each other, and to our own countrymen.
When a country or a movement is behaving badly on the international stage, we must not pretend otherwise.
You cannot remedy a problem if you will not name it and define it.
One of the most prominent examples in our day is ISIS and all forms of radical Islam.
These people have no legitimate claim, they have no justification for their cowardly, barbaric, and inhuman behavior, and we must not pretend otherwise.
Our former Secretary of State in America recently said that we need to “show respect for our enemies” and “empathize with their perspective and point of view.”
Well, yes, understanding our enemies as a means of destroying them, I’m all for that. But empathizing with them as if perhaps we can find some common ground, I have no interest in that kind of mindless naiveté.
Let me be blunt about this. I want America’s allies to trust us and respect us, and I want our enemies to fear us.
Every day our enemies spend their time trying to avoid our justice is a day they are not plotting against us.
And I fear that in recent years this has not been the case.
The events of the past several years clearly suggest that America’s allies are often less than certain that they can count on us, and our enemies too often do not fear us.
Of course, as Americans we want all people to live in harmony, and we do not desire to have any enemies.
But the simple truth is that we do, but that is not of our doing.
There are people in the world who mean us harm, who desire our downfall, and who simply detest us because we stand for freedom.
I have no interest in coddling them, or pretending that bad is good. Sugar coating the reality of the situation serves no purpose; we must not be afraid to speak the truth.
A wise man once said, “The truth will set you free.”
Of course, one can easily imagine the critique of my three principles – that they are too general or lofty or not sufficiently specific.
But one thing I’ve found in government service – if you lack defining principles, you will lack coherent policies.
If you fail to get the principles right, you will certainly fail in the execution of specific policies.
In many ways, that is the problem with American foreign policy today. I cannot stand here today and articulate to you what America’s foreign policy is at present. In fact, it increasingly seems as if we do not have one. This must change.
Now, let’s talk very directly about the elephant in the room…that is, allow me to discuss the recent horrific events in France.
I will warn you in advance that I’m going to say some things that are not politically correct, so brace yourselves.
To be clear, I have no interest in defaming any religion, nor do I have any interest in assigning the maniacal acts of radical Islamists to millions of Muslims worldwide.
I’m interested only in dealing with reality and facts.
And the fact is that radical Islamists do not believe in freedom or common decency nor are they willing to accommodate them in any way and anywhere.
We need to stop pretending otherwise.
We are fools to pretend otherwise. How many Muslims in this world agree with these radicals? I have no idea, I hope it is a small minority.
But it is clear that far too many do, and it is clear that they must be stopped.
For example, note what radical Islamists do when given the chance in territories they control either in the Middle East or even in Europe.
In Iraq, ISIS commits genocide, enslaves women and beheads opponents.
And in the West, non-assimilationist Muslims establish enclaves and carry out as much of Sharia law as they can without regard for the laws of the democratic countries which provided them a new home.
It is startling to think that any country would allow, even unofficially, for a so called “no-go zone.”
The idea that a free country would allow for specific areas of its country to operate in an autonomous way that is not free and is in direct opposition to its laws is hard to fathom.
Another example is the rise of anti-Semitism in many places, even in continental Europe.
Over the last couple of years we have been alarmed to see blatant and astoundingly bold acts of persecution and bigotry against Jewish persons and property, to such a degree that Jewish emigration from Europe is increasing.
How does such evil rise again in democratic countries?
I believe it is because radical Islamists have been given too wide a berth to establish their own nation within a nation. I am encouraged to see France’s Prime Minister speak out against this travesty.
In America we are quite happy to welcome freedom loving people, regardless of religion, who want to abide by our laws allowing for freedom of expression and a host of other democratic freedoms.
But we will never allow for any sect of people to set up their own areas where they establish their own set of laws.
We have to stop pretending that right and wrong do not exist.
For example – Sharia law is not just different than our law, it’s not just a cultural difference, it is oppression and it is wrong.
It subjugates women and treats them as property, and it is antithetical to valuing all of human life equally.
It is the very definition of oppression. We must stop pretending otherwise.
In my country, Christianity is the largest religion. And we require exactly no one to conform to it. And we do not discriminate against anyone who does not conform to it. It’s called freedom.
A so-called religion that allows for and endorses killing those who oppose it is not a religion at all, it is a terrorist movement.
I do continue to believe and hope that most Muslims oppose these bloodthirsty acts of terror.
But that is not the point. Whether they do or not, the point is that radical Islamists do advocate the slaughter of those who reject their views.
Free peoples everywhere must not pretend otherwise and must not coddle those who hold these views. And they must have courage.
I favor robust debate on everything – on religion, on policy, on politics, on everything. It is called freedom.
But when debate stops, and when a movement decides that they no longer want to debate their ideas, but rather they want to simply subdue, silence, and kill those who disagree…that is called terrorism, barbarism, and inhuman behavior, and it cannot and must not be tolerated.
Let’s be honest here, Islam has a problem.
If Islam does not support what is happening in the name of Islam, then they need to stand up and stop it. Many Islamic leaders argue that these are the acts of a radical few.
Ok, it is their problem, and they need to deal with it.
Muslim leaders must make clear that anyone who commits acts of terror in the name of Islam is in fact not practicing Islam at all.
If they refuse to say this, then they are condoning these acts of barbarism. There is no middle ground.
Specifically, Muslim leaders need to condemn anyone who commits these acts of violence and clearly state that these people are evil and are enemies of Islam.
It’s not enough to simply condemn violence, they must stand up and loudly proclaim that these people are not martyrs who will receive a reward in the afterlife, and rather they are murderers who are going to hell.
If they refuse to do that, then they are part of the problem. There is no middle ground here.
Let’s remember what we are talking about here.
These terrorists are not soldiers who are fighting nobly on some valiant battlefield against an opposing army.
No. These are cowards who are walking up to unarmed civilians—men, women AND children—in the work place and the grocery store and murdering them with weapons of war.
And now that I have been politically incorrect with regard to radical Islam, I might as well go all in and say some less than flattering things about the Western world today.
One thing that must be addressed is the notion of assimilation. This is a problem not only in Europe, but in America as well.
There is a way of thinking by many on the Left in America, which disturbs me greatly, and unfortunately I can view the fallacy and the folly of this way of thinking when I look at the situation today in much of Europe.
There was once a time when it was taken for granted in America that people who came to our country were coming to America to be Americans.
They were not coming to be Norwegians who live in America but who do not identify with American values and customs and mores.
They were not coming to try to set up regions where native Norwegian laws superseded American laws.
They were not coming to try to develop regions where people spoke Norwegian instead of America’s language of English.
Historians rightly referred to America as the great melting pot…and it was.
But over time, a different philosophy has crept in, and that philosophy now dominates the thinking of the American Left, and perhaps even the mainstream of thinking in Europe.
This philosophy holds the notion that assimilation is not necessary or even preferable. But it really goes further than that.
This philosophy holds the view that it is wrong to expect assimilation, that assimilation is colonialist, assimilation is backward, and assimilation is in fact evidence of cultural bigotry and insensitivity.
They think it is wrong to expect that people who chose to immigrate to your country should be expected to endorse and abide by your laws.
They think it is unenlightened, discriminatory, and even racist to expect immigrants to endorse and assimilate into the culture in their new country.
This is complete rubbish.
I’m not here to tell any country in Europe how to handle its own immigration policies.
That is your business, not mine.
But in America, immigration policy is a matter of very animated debate.
As a governor, I am one of 50 men and women who every day deals with both the good and bad effects of our federal immigration policy.
It is not a faculty lounge debate for us, but real issues that affect our citizens.
It is my view that immigration can make a country stronger, or it can make a country weaker.
It really depends on whether the immigrants coming to your country are coming to join your culture, your mores, your laws, and become a part of your history.
Or, are they coming to be set apart, are they unwilling to assimilate, do they have their own laws they want to establish, do they fundamentally disagree with your political culture?
Therein lies the difference between immigration and invasion.
In fact, one can argue that what some immigrants of late desire to do is to colonize Western countries because setting up your own enclave and demanding recognition of a no-go zone are exactly that.
In America, I am a big proponent of legal immigration of people who want to come to our country and assimilate into our culture.
I am all for people who want to come and embrace freedom, embrace our laws, work hard, learn our language, and pursue what we call the American Dream. These immigrants add to our strength.
Let me tell you my personal story. My parents immigrated to America over 40 years ago. They had never been to America; there was no such thing as an Internet. All they knew about America was that it was said to be a land of freedom and opportunity.
It was said to be a place where you could make your own way, a place where hard work was rewarded, a place where you were not guaranteed success, but you were guaranteed the opportunity to pursue your dreams.
My parents came in search of the American Dream, and they caught it. To them, America was not so much a place, it was an idea.
My dad and mom told my brother and me that we came to America to be Americans. Not Indian-Americans, simply Americans.
If we wanted to be Indians, we would have stayed in India. It’s not that they are embarrassed to be from India, they love India.
But they came to America because they were looking for greater opportunity and freedom.
I do not believe in hyphenated Americans. This view gets me into some trouble with the media back home.
They like to refer to Indian-Americans, Irish-Americans, African-Americans, Italian-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and all the rest.
To be clear – I am not suggesting for one second that people should be shy or embarrassed about their ethnic heritage.
But, I am explicitly saying that it is completely reasonable for nations to discriminate between allowing people into their country who want to embrace their culture, or allowing people into their country who want to destroy their culture, or establish a separate culture within.
It is completely reasonable and even necessary for a sovereign nation to discriminate between people who want to join them and people who want to divide them.
And immigration policy should have nothing at all to do with the color of anyone’s skin.
I find people who care about skin pigmentation to be the most dimwitted lot around. I want nothing to do with that.
Today, many countries seem to act as if their country is simply a geographic location on a map, a landmass with some borders and a flag with some random colors on it.
That is it, and that is all it is. There is nothing else.
There is no history, there is no culture, no cultural identity, there is nothing that binds them together, and there are no common beliefs, no accepted social mores, not even agreement on the idea of freedom or the laws of the land.
Many of these people don’t consider themselves to be citizens of any country, they see themselves as citizens of the world, or citizens of some other land they were born in, or their parents were born in, or their parents’ parents were born in.
There is a way forward, but it requires boldness, a commitment to human liberty and strong alliances among democratic nations.
Now is the time for freedom loving people to wake up.
Now is the time for freedom loving people to speak the truth.
Now is the time for freedom loving people across the entire world to courageously stand up for freedom.”
~ Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana