Washington D.C. – Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Lead Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, joined the Meridian International Center for a fireside chat about U.S. leadership on the global stage and maintaining global alliances. Lead Republican McCaul spoke on strategies to confront a new era of global threats, including combating aggression from our strategic adversaries like Russia and  China. He also answered questions about the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s work to strengthen U.S. leadership abroad and America’s important role in supporting burgeoning democracies around the world. Key highlights are below. 

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On competing with China: It’s been a slow and deceptive creep…the intellectual property theft, the espionage, the largest transfer of wealth in human history, stealing, and now parading hypersonic missiles at Tiananmen Square. It has  been a wake up call and Members on Capitol Hill are waking up that China is really the superpower. They’re not a developing nation under the UN- they are now a superpower.” He later continued, “If you read Belt and Road, it’s very clear what their intentions are. That is not a subtle policy. It never benefits the country they are supposedly trying to help. It’s all very poor quality stuff. I think this is a wake up call for the United States to compete with China. We have to compete with China whether it be the technology piece or the infrastructure piece in our own hemisphere. I would say they’re in 40% of the world now with 5G, with Huawei. When they plant that down, they control all of the data. That’s a privacy and security issue- it’s everything.” 

On the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act: “I think we have to stand up for democracy and against oppression and tyranny. It’s what our Founding Fathers did and Taiwan is the same case. I signed off on an $8 billion weapons package deal to Taiwan to defend themselves from China and China’s getting very aggressive in the South China Sea and I think that in Hong Kong we do have to take a stand. But if we can’t stand up for our values, and the values our Founding Fathers stood for, freedom and democracy, what good are we? Hong Kong is the perfect example of that.” 

On protests in Iran:Iran is very crippled, with the snap back of the sanctions, with the cyber warfare attacks we’ve had, command and control, they’re in a bad place and now they’ve got protestors in the streets. They shut down the internet and cracked down on the streets. I’ve got a lot of videos coming out of Iran before the internet was completely shut down. And I think with Iran, just like China, just like any dictatorship country, is to get the messages out of the country, give them a way to communicate outside and with the United States.”

On Afghanistan:I advocated to leave a residual force in Syria which I thought was vitally important, just like we’re doing in Iraq. Nation building is over, but I do think we need residual forces to protect the Homeland. So, when I look at Afghanistan,  I really look at it the same way. I think if we immediately withdrew from Afghanistan, the Taliban would immediately form an alliance with the radical Islamists and take over the palace in Kabul and the whole thing falls and then you have a threat to the Homeland that goes back to 9/11. What is our critical mission? I think our critical mission, and my advice, whether it be Syria, Iraq, or Afghanistan, the answer to me is leave the residual force to take out any threat in all three of those countries. Then I think the President can wind it down. But he is also leaving the residual force to protect the United States of America from a future attack against Americans.”

On the importance of NATO:Russia has gotten so aggressive. They’re in Venezuela now, they got Maduro to stand down. They’re in Libya with Haftar causing all sorts of chaos, with low cost budgets causing chaos throughout the world and what better way to do it than in our own hemisphere and stick it in our eye. They’re in Syria now, and they’re there for the ports, so they have submarine warfare capability in the Mediterranean. This is very aggressive on Putin’s part and I think the NATO alliance has never been more important. I am all in for the cost sharing burden but we can’t let that overshadow the importance of the NATO alliance.”

On combating childhood cancer globally: “I do a lot of pediatric oncology work in the United States, I chair the Childhood Cancer Caucus.  One of our bills led to discovery of Amino therapy.  It’s huge progress, but if you look at Africa, the mortality rate is 90%. Children die in Africa from easily treatable diseases. We are working with drug companies to donate low cost therapies to cure cancers, the majority of these cancers are very treatable in Africa. And we are also working with the ambassador of PEPFAR, philanthropist groups, and  we’ve met Bill Gates about this issue. This has taken what we’ve done to a whole new level and next week I will be introducing the Global Hope Act along with Chairman Engel.  A 90% mortality rate is unacceptable, particularly when we have medications that can treat them. This will save millions of lives.” 

On American leadership abroad: “We have to be engaged across the globe with other nations and talk about the ideals that make this country and all democracies  great. What I see right now are authoritarian dictatorships, oppressive theocracies in Iran, to a Putin like dictator oppressing his own people, and China that has their people in concentration camps to indoctrinate their own people. America always has a role. What I see is a clash, a modern day clash, between these authoritarian dictatorship oppressive countries, vs. democracy, freedom of religion and speech. And that is the clash of our time, and who will prevail is the ultimate question.”