Home » Speaker Johnson lays out three-part foreign policy framework for the 21st century

Speaker Johnson lays out three-part foreign policy framework for the 21st century

by Minden Press-Herald

Asserts Congress’s role in countering “China-Led Axis”

WASHINGTON — Today, Speaker Johnson delivered his first major foreign policy address as Speaker of the House at the Hudson Institute. Following his remarks, Speaker Johnson participated in a discussion with Hudson Institute Senior Fellow and Director of the Keystone Defense Initiative, Rebeccah Heinrichs.

Speaker Johnson’s three-part policy framework is built upon three key pillars: strengthening America’s domestic position, deterring America’s enemies, and strengthening American alliances around the globe. 

As part of the effort to deter China, Speaker Johnson previewed legislation the House will be working to bring to the floor this fall,  including options to restrict outbound investments, the BIOSECURE Act, and legislation to inhibit China’s attempts to exploit American trade.

Read Speaker Johnson’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

Last week, we celebrated our nation’s 248th birthday. And as we near our 250th, and as we debate the future of America’s position in the world, it is worth reflecting on where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going as a nation.

In the leadup to World War II, we understood the primary threat to come from a tyrant in Europe, but we were attacked by a tyrant in Asia, and we were forced into war in two theaters.

In the Cold War, the Soviets were the only real threat to the U.S., but they had a bloc of proxies around the world. The Tripartite Pact established an Axis of powers set on undoing the West. And the Warsaw Pact established a bloc of Soviet partners set against America. In both instances we saw a group of enemies joining forces against us.

Today, we don’t face one primary enemy as we did with the Soviet Union. And, so far, we don’t we see a new kind of Tripartite Pact. But we DO see a group of nations openly aligned against the United States.

It’s an interconnected web of threats — a China-led Axis composed of partner regimes in Russia, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, & even Cuba.

They each have their own cultures and their own specific, sinister aims, but they all wake up every day thinking of how they can take down America. And they are increasingly using their collective military, technological, and financial resources to empower one another in their various efforts to cut off our trade routes, steal our technology, harm our troops, and upend our economy.

Iran works with Russia to produce hundreds of Shahed drones to hunt down and bomb Ukrainians every day, while Russia launches North Korean missiles at Ukraine’s electrical grids, using technology provided by the Chinese. China, our single-greatest threat, is engaging in malign influence operations around the world, and is even working with cartels now, backed by Cuba and Venezuela, to poison Americans. China, Russia and Iran all work with Cuban intelligence outposts to target Americans and provide safe harbor for terrorists in transit. And as all these enemies operate in our hemisphere, they are trading oil with Venezuela, and pushing illegal aliens and violent criminals toward our borders.

War is on the minds of many around the globe, and some of the threats are eerily reminiscent of the past. We hear chants for elimination of the Jewish people. We hear calls for territorial expansion and ethno-driven justifications for invasion. We hear speeches about the annexation of Pacific islands—all echoes of what we heard 80 years ago.

Until recently, in the almost 40 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, thanks to America’s policy of peace through strength — the sounds of war and interconnected global conflict have been mostly silent. But that is no longer the case.

Under the current path, the world is increasingly destabilized, and in this fateful moment, our actions here in America will continue to determine the path of the free world.

All of us here recognize that while democracy is not perfect, the burden of self-government is far lighter than the yoke of tyranny. But right now, absent American leadership, we’re looking at a future that could well be defined by communism and tyranny, rather than liberty, opportunity, and security.

In Europe, Putin has made it clear that his plans do not stop with Ukraine. He has likened himself to Czar Peter the Great, and you can read his essay about restoring the Russian empire—an empire that would include our military partners in Vilnius, Helsinki, and Warsaw.

Xi Jinping has made abundantly clear he’s interested in expanding his communist footholds, including in the South China Sea. In the Middle East, the Ayatollah wants to resurrect the caliphate and eliminate Israel. With their rising hostilities, we risk the loss of free navigation in the Indo-Pacific and the Red Sea, and we risk devastating economic harm if we lose access to semiconductors in Taiwan, or reduced trade with Europe. At the same time, we risk returning to an era where sheiks control Jerusalem, and the Jewish people have no land to call their own.

To be sure, these threats have been growing for some time – but under weak Presidents, they’ve been allowed to metastasize. During the Obama administration, we saw eight years of international apology tours, the sequestration of our military, the buildup of ISIS, Russia’s invasion into Crimea, the spread of malign Chinese influence across the globe, and a nuclear deal that gave Iran everything they wanted.

Today, the same failures we saw under Obama, have happened under Joe Biden, because he’s empowered an out-of-touch foreign policy establishment whose agenda is to once again appease, apologize and accommodate.

He doesn’t treat China like an enemy. He’s stopped supporting Israel and has cozied up to Iran to revive the failed nuclear deal. And, in the most inexplicable policy imaginable, he’s opened our borders wide to spies and terrorists, while reducing sanctions on the Latin dictators who wreak havoc in our backyard. And now look where we are!

Obama’s weakness invited aggression, and Biden’s weakness has fueled that aggression like nothing we’ve seen since WWII.

Things were different when I came to Congress during the first Trump administration in 2017. When I was elected chairman of the Republican Study Committee in 2019, we had the largest caucus in Congress. I established a National Security Task Force and we published a report with 130 policy recommendations to counter China, deter Russia, and advance American interests in the Middle East.

And to the chagrin of the pundits who want to paint him as an “isolationist,” President Trump established a solid security posture that advanced the same principles outlined in our report. Remember how he threatened North Korea with fire and fury the likes of which the world has never seen?

Remember how he took out Soleimani and al-Baghdadi? Remember how he was the first President to send Javelin missiles to Ukraine, and how he took steps to rebuild our military? Remember how simple Trump’s approach to arms control was? He ended one-sided treaties, he called out Russia for violating the INF Treaty, and ensured America was developing the weaponry to win if challenged. He called out the threat of China and took on their unfair trade practices, got our allies to pay their fair share, enforced Iran oil sanctions, and brokered the Abraham Accords, and the foreign policy establishment hated it.

But he did not retreat. He did not apologize. He instilled fear in our enemies, and with his leadership, made clear that American strength is essential to a peaceful 21st century. To be sure, the Republican Party is not one of “nation builders” and “careless interventionists.” Nor are we idealists who think we can placate tyrants.

We are realists. We don’t seek out a fight, but we’re always prepared to fight, and if we must fight, we fight with the gloves off.  And today, when our adversaries don’t need to cross oceans to harm our people, we need a new policy of peace through strength for the 21st Century.

Even as the “America-last” bureaucrats regained power under Joe Biden, and invited aggression from our enemies, in the coming months, we have a chance to change course.

First, we have to strengthen our domestic position because national security begins at home.

It’s an uncomfortable truth, but our biggest national security challenge is our national debt. To meet our defense needs, Congress must work to grow our economy and significantly reduce our overall spending, and I can promise that come 2025, spending reform will be a top priority for our new Republican majority. Those won’t be easy conversations, but they are essential for our long-term survival. Congress must prioritize the truly essential needs of our nation—and our national security must get top billing.

At the same time, we must address the hollowing out of our defense infrastructure.

The 2024 Index of Military Strength ranks the Army’s and Marine Corp’s capacity as “weak,” the Navy’s capacity as “very weak”, the Air Force’s readiness as “very weak,” and our nuclear capabilities as “marginal.” If we’re going to present a credible deterrent to our adversaries, we have to rebuild while also being fiscally responsible. That’s why we invested $23 billion to restock essential weapons and rebuild our defense capacities in the April National Security Supplemental.

Looking ahead, we also have to reinvest in our maritime sector, and begin building new ships and new shipyards. 80% of global trade is conducted over the oceans, and China currently has 232-times the shipbuilding capacity of the United States. We need to re-shore and safe-shore our supply chains, and restore our domestic manufacturing and building capabilities, while safeguarding our military from another sequestration.

But strengthening our domestic position also means unleashing our energy sector and protecting our border. When Joe Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Accords and stopped LNG exports, China and Russia won, and American families lost.

And as Joe Biden opened our borders, ended Remain in Mexico, stopped building the wall, and instituted catch-and-release… terrorists, cartels, and fentanyl traffickers have won, while Americans have lost.

But in 2025, as a Republican-led government works quickly to strengthen our domestic position, we must also use our economic might to influence our friends and deter our enemies.

In the recent national security supplemental, House Republicans pushed back on the Biden administration’s policy of Iran appeasement and secured the toughest Iran sanctions package in nearly a decade. We leveraged our economic influence against CCP-controlled TikTok, and passed the REPO Act to allow seized Russian Bank assets to pay for assistance to Ukraine. And in the Ukraine supplemental, we mandated cost-matching for European allies key provisions that were not in the Senate version. We’re hopeful that ahead, we can push our friends in Europe to establish a self-sufficient defense industrial base that is less reliant on America assistance. Russia will not be able to outwait our collective strength.

But because, at this moment, China poses the greatest threat to global peace, Congress must keep our focus on countering China with every tool at our disposal. In the short time remaining in this Congress, the House will be voting on a series of bills to empower the next Administration to hit our enemies’ economies on day one.

We’ll build on our sanctions package and punish Chinese military firms that provide material support to Russia and Iran. We’ll consider options to restrict outbound investments to China. We will vote on the BIOSECURE Act to halt federal contracts with biotech companies that are beholden to adversaries and endanger Americans’ healthcare data. We will rein in the de minimis privilege for any good subject to Section 301 trade enforcement tariffs, to stymie China’s attempts to exploit American trade. Our goal is to have a significant package of China-related legislation signed into the law by the end of this year, featuring these priorities and many more, and we will aggressively work toward that package.

And in the next Congress, we’ll maintain the status and continue the important work of our House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party. Beijing is our number one foreign threat—they exploit every nook and cranny in our financial and economic system, and the Select Committee has been instrumental in exposing the dangers of the CCP.

It’s clear we need to strengthen our domestic position, and we need to use all the economic tools available to us, but we must also strengthen our alliances.

Make no mistake: We don’t need more the naive, idealistic, self-proclaimed foreign policy “experts” who put the wants of other countries before the needs of our own. We need a US-led, America-First coalition that advances the security interests of Americans and engages abroad with the interests of working families and businesses here at home… a coalition that is good for everyone.

This week, Washington is hosting the 75th NATO Summit and will celebrate the peace and prosperity NATO has brought. I’ll be speaking to the NATO heads at the Capitol shortly after this, but for now, I’ll say this, Republicans celebrate the peace and prosperity NATO has secured, and we’ll continue to stand by our partners as we prevent needless wars.

But we also believe NATO needs to be doing more. Every NATO member needs to be spending at least 2% of their GDP on defense.  It is no longer acceptable that not all NATO members have reached their current commitment. It may even need to be closer to levels during the Cold War, but if we’re all going to enjoy a future of peace and prosperity, we all need skin in the game.

As I meet with NATO delegations this week, I plan to raise this very serious issue with each one of them.

In the Middle East, we’re seeing the devastating effects of Democrats splintering on our historic alliance with Israel. Because President Biden won’t, come November, we will be clear about our steadfast support for Israel, and build upon the Abraham Accords so the Jewish people can enjoy safety and freedom in their homeland.

Likewise, in the Indo-Pacific, America must continue to build upon our military and economic relationships with India, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and the United Kingdom. We all have strategic interests in the region, and with a strong, united front, we can protect our trade routes, our shipping lanes, and all our shared interests.

But that’s a choice we have to make. We can choose to lead, or we can choose to be a speedbump down the road to serfdom. Decline is always a choice.

At one point, the West was facing elimination by Fascists and Imperialists, and the Jews were facing genocide by the Nazis.  At another point, we faced annihilation by the Soviets.Today, we are threatened by Chinese communists, Russian oligarchs and Islamic terrorists. We can choose to ignore them. We can try to appease them. We can listen to the naysayers who say our values aren’t worth defending or that there can be no victory. Or we can respond again with all the fortitude and fight that once ran through every American vein.

We can rearm, rebuild, reinvigorate, restore, and reinstate fear in our enemies. We can retake the summit of respect, and look out on a landscape of peace, prosperity, and security.

We can show courage. We can show valor. And we can give our grandchildren the chance to grow up – not in the shadow of tyranny – but atop the shining city upon a hill.

Decline is always a choice, but that’s not a choice Republicans will be making anytime soon.

Fifty years ago, at a banquet hall a few blocks from where we are sitting, Ronald Reagan spoke at the very first Conservative Political Action Conference. At the time, conservatism was considered by many to be an out-of-date and discredited philosophy. Ronald Reagan didn’t buy that.Instead, he reminded us all WHY America is exceptional, and thus so important to the entire world. As he famously said:

“We cannot escape our destiny, nor should we try to do so. The leadership of the free world was thrust upon us two centuries ago in that little hall of Philadelphia. In the days following World War II, when the economic strength and power of America was all that stood between the world and the return to the dark ages, Pope Pius XII said, ‘The American people have a great genius for splendid and unselfish actions. Into the hands of America God has placed the destinies of an afflicted mankind.’ We are indeed, and we are today, the last best hope of man on earth.”

By God’s grace, may we always be! Thank you.

Related Posts