(Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) stirred up a crowd of thousands on Wednesday at the Christians United for Israel Annual Summit in Washington, D.C., as he criticized President Obama's foreign policy as one of "weakness" and "appeasement" while stressing the need to maintain a strong alliance with Israel.
"I commend everyone here for respecting the biblical admonition to stand with Israel," he said, praising their "commitment to speak the truth in an era when so many believe they know better than eternal truths." "The alliance between the United States and Israel must remain completely and entirely unshakeable."
Cruz sent a strong message to the Obama administration, saying what the United States needs are leaders who "clearly understand that America and Israel are not what's wrong with the world."
During his 18-minute speech on the last day of the CUFI summit, the Texas senator blasted Obama on a number of foreign policy issues, including how he has dealt with Iran.
"There's an irony that many don't seem to understand – that weakness encourages violence and military conflict whereas clear barriers and deterrents are the best way to avoid military conflict," he noted.
While Iran moves toward acquiring nuclear weapons, Cruz said "there is very good reason for the Iranian mullahs to believe that the threats from the United States are hollow."
"I wish that were not the case," he said. "I wish they were perceived as credible threats because the best way to stop their proceeding toward nuclear weapons capacity is to make unequivocally clear that grave and immediate and military consequences, if necessary, will follow."
Cruz backed Israel's right to defend itself if Iran gets too close to acquiring nuclear weapons capacity.
"And if that occurs, I could not imagine a greater service that could be given to protecting the national security interests of the United States of America," he said. "Now frankly, Israel shouldn't have to act. The United States should be willing to act to protect our own interests."
The alliance with Israel, Cruz underlined, is driven by "overwhelming benefits that come to the national security of the United States of America." Israel, he described, is a "liberal democracy that reflects our values" and serves as a "beacon of freedom in a very troubled part of the world."
"We live in a very dangerous time," Cruz said, speaking of the unrest sparked throughout the Middle East by "the so-called Arab Spring." He mentioned the civil war in Syria, arguing that seven of the nine major groups of rebels are "affiliated in some significant way with al Qaeda."
Due to this terror connection, the senator argued against President Obama's recent decision to send arms to the rebels. "Don't give weapons to people who hate us … who want to kill us," he said. Requests to Cruz's office for further comment were not returned by press time.
"Before the president of the United States injects us into what could be a Sunni-Shiite war," Cruz argued, "it's incumbent on the president to come before Congress, to come before the American people and to explain why it is in the national interest of the United States of America."
Cruz also brought up Egypt, where Christians helped lead millions in what has been called "the largest revolution in world history," to further illustrate Obama's failing foreign policy. The recent revolution represented "millions of people protesting against a radical Islamic government that had become repressive and tyrannical."
But "the saddest moment" amid the protests, Cruz said, was to see "the protesters out on the street waving signs that said 'Obama supports Terrorism, Obama supports Morsi.'" While the president did endorse the new military-installed government, he had praised Morsi's election as a great victory for democracy.
"Truly we have gone through the looking glass when those suffering under a radical Islamic government of the Muslim Brotherhood look to the United States and see a government that supports the radical Islamic government and not the other way around," he lamented.
Cruz contrasted the alleged weakness of the current president with the firm strength of Ronald Reagan's foreign policy.
"It's not an accident that on the day President Reagan was sworn into office, Iran released our hostages after 444 days," he said. Obama, however, has let "the terrorist attack on our people in Benghazi go unavenged for more than nine months."
"What a different administration we have today."
In 1987, Reagan had the courage to tell the Soviet Union leader, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" as he stood near the Berlin Wall. More than 25 years later, Obama stood at the same Brandenburg Gate and said in a speech last month, "Openness won. Tolerance won. And freedom won."
"The Berlin Wall did not come tumbling down because of openness and tolerance and a bunch of folks with flowers in their hair singing kumbaya," Cruz said in his speech Wednesday. Rather, it fell "because we had an American president with the moral clarity to say 'our policy toward the Soviet Union can be summed up in one simple formula – we win, they lose.'"
Cruz argued that this firmness, as opposed to Obama's alleged policy of "leading from behind," truly keeps people safe. "Bullies and tyrants do not respect weakness and appeasement," he said.