In Thursday's New York Times, Russian president Vladimir Putin argued that America is not exceptional, and that American leadership does not make the world safer. I could not disagree more strongly.
While Russia and the U.S. did work together to defeat the Nazis in World War II as Putin points out, our histories since then tell two very different stories. While strong U.S. leadership rebuilt a free and prosperous Western Europe after the war, the Soviet Union did the opposite, spreading a Communist ideology that imprisoned people behind walls and on islands. The U.S. won the Cold War because of our willingness to lead the free world, and today we remain the world's sole super power. The question facing our nation now is whether we will continue to lead in the future. I believe we must.
History teaches us that a strong and engaged America is a source of good in the world. No nation has liberated more people or done more to raise living standards around the world through trade and charity than the United States. We remain a beacon of hope for people around the world.
History also teaches us that the best way to preserve the peace is to have the military power to win any war. We must ensure that our military power remains unquestioned and unequaled. That is why I support investing in our military - because failure to do so will ultimately prove even more costly and more dangerous.
In his op-ed, President Putin said that action in Syria without the authorization of the United Nations Security Council would "constitute an act of aggression." I believe that while we should always work to build international coalitions and consensus, we cannot place all of our faith in or compromise our sovereignty to the international community. The United Nations is a fine forum for debate, but time and again it has proven unreliable when it comes to actual action. The U.S. should never abdicate our national security to anybody - especially an international body that includes many who don't share our democratic ideals.
America's national security should focus on providing for our security without violating our liberties. Our foreign policy should sustain and deepen our relationships with our allies, including those who are threatened because of their willingness to stand with America.
If we follow these principles, the world will be safer, freer, and more prosperous, and the 21st century will be another American century.