WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following remarks on the House floor in support of the NATO Support Act, which passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support.
“Thank you, Mr./Madam Speaker.
“Let me start by thanking the author of this bill, the gentleman from California, Mr. Panetta. I was glad to join him as an original cosponsor. And I’m grateful as well to our Ranking Member, Mr. McCaul of Texas, for his strong support of this legislation.
“Mr. Speaker, for nearly 70 years, the NATO alliance has been the bedrock of transatlantic peace, security, and stability. For seven decades, NATO has been synonymous with western democracy.
“The organization’s architects had a tremendous vision. And that vision translated into the most successful political-military alliance in history. An alliance that won the Cold War, that brought peace to the Balkans, that fought terrorism in Afghanistan, and that today is guarding against Russian aggression in Europe, and training forces in Iraq and elsewhere.
“Now, Mr. Speaker, we’ve heard—most notably from the President—that NATO is obsolete, that it’s ill-suited to 21st-century challenges. That’s just plain wrong.
“Would we be safer without Article 5—the principle that says an attack on one is an attack on all, an attack on one NATO member is an attack on all NATO members—the commitment that brought our NATO allies to fight at our side after September 11th? Would we be better off without 28 other countries that share our values and that know how to fight together effectively? Of course not.
“NATO is not a burden, Mr. Speaker. It’s a bulwark against aggressive forces that seek to undermine democracy and the rule of law—against strongmen who flout international law and act as though might makes right. NATO is our greatest strategic advantage, one built over time and at great sacrifice.
“We simply cannot cede such an advantage. Past and future generations alike would never forgive the squandering of something so precious. We cannot betray our young soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines by sending them into battle alone, without capable allies to share their burden.
“So this bill again reiterates Congress’s commitment to NATO. It would also prohibit any withdrawal from NATO. I’m glad we’re considering it so early in this Congress. It sends a clear message to our allies, to our adversaries, and to the Administration that this branch of government fully supports the alliance, the collective defense of our allies, and peace across the North Atlantic region.
“I reserve the balance of my time.”