Press Releases

How to Use America’s New Peace Dividend
By U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
September 23, 2021  
The American Conservative 
 
Washington isn’t quite sure what to do after the chaotic end to America’s longest war. Some suggest we may need to re-establish a military foothold in the country. Others want to funnel money to the Taliban under the guise of diplomacy and there are those who want to wash their hands to focus solely on funding refugee resettlement programs.
 
How Congress decides to commit our national resources following the withdrawal will be the clearest indicator of the state of our policy toward Afghanistan going forward.
 
I believe there is only one right answer: rescind any remaining funds appropriated for maintaining a military and diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, as well as funds to support the Afghan government or military, and put them to better use. Namely, put them toward great power competition with the People’s Republic of China. 
 
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Rescinding these funds would be a clear message from Congress that it is time to rebalance and focus on strengthening America. With Democrats in control of Congress, it is unlikely that any rescinded funds this year will go unspent. However, how we use the unspent dollars is an important question. 
 
Rescinded funds from Afghanistan should not be used for resettlement efforts or social programs. Instead, it must go towards bolstering America’s position for future threats. My Prioritizing Readiness and Competitiveness (PRC) Act would do exactly that by directing these funds to critical supply chain issues, advanced research, and Navy shipbuilding.
 
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, few in Washington considered the potentially catastrophic impacts of our overreliance on a Chinese economy controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. The pandemic, the shortages, and the deaths exposed dangers of an economy built on short-term financial gains over long-term resilience. The PRC Act would surge funding into the Defense Production Act Purchases Account to support domestic manufacturing and supply chain resiliency in strategic industries critical to national security.
 
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The PRC Act will direct unspent funds into the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for research and development projects related to strengthening the United States’ global advantage in strategic technologies. DARPA has been at the forefront of some of America’s most important technological breakthroughs. By definition, the agency tends to take on moonshot projects that the private sector will not, either because of cost or reputation. We cannot rely on nationless companies like Apple to out-innovate the Chinese let alone put Americans, their families, and our national defense first.
 
Finally, we must also invest in the United States Navy assets, which has fallen behind the People's Liberation Army Navy in terms of assets. While the Chinese Communist Party has been on a shipbuilding spree, the United States is stagnant. We cannot successfully refocus on the Indo-Pacific region, protect our critical trade routes, and discourage Beijing’s aggression if our Navy cannot project power or hold critical areas. As Elbridge Colby has argued in The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict, Beijing’s quest for hegemony must “be reflected across every aspect of the U.S. armed forces defense and U.S. defense planning.” And naval power is essential to that goal. Otherwise, the communist nation will be able to hold our economy hostage to advance its goals.
 
As I said last fall, we could not keep our military in Afghanistan forever. The questions were always how we execute the withdrawal and how we focus our resources afterwards. The Biden Administration botched the first part, but it is not too late for the president to get the second part right. But we cannot compete with China based on lip service, we actually need to invest in American research, American industry, and American naval power.
 
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