Rick Santorum discusses four points of national security

By Anthony Settipani and Nicole Bauke

Chronicle Photo: Anthony Settipani
Chronicle Photo: Anthony Settipani

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum addressed a packed Fisk Hall auditorium Wednesday evening, discussing how to improve U.S. foreign policy and national security.

“It’s always a treat for me, to interact with our country’s best and brightest,” he said before his talk in an exclusive interview with The Chronicle. “It’s also a challenge to go out and communicate a message that in the vast majority of cases is something that they don’t hear very much.”

When asked about what he considers the greatest threat to American national security, he mentioned President Obama.

“He’s not a man without vision,” he said. “It’s just that his vision isn’t based at all in reality.” When it came to the lessons that America has learned since becoming a world power – the subject of Santorum’s talk – he said that he believes the president has failed to learn any of them.

The first of these lessons Santorum covered in his speech was that capitalism is not as dominant around the world as many Americans think it is. Fixing this, he believes, requires as much work at home as it does abroad.

“For capitalism to be successful,” he said, “it has to be felt by all Americans—or all people of a country.” He stressed that to defeat other economic systems, democratic capitalism must become a positive force both at home and abroad.

Santorum’s second point assessed why capitalism is failing in the modern world. According to him, peace is developed through strength, and the United States is no longer applying its assets to assert a global influence.

“We need to send out a signal to the world that we are strong,” Santorum said. “Weakness is like pheromones that go out that encourage all sorts of campy behavior by those who want to see ill will to American interests around the world.”

Santorum argued that the United States is spending too little on its military, and that the world is taking advantage of this.

“We are in a situation that makes us much more vulnerable to foreign threats.”

In his third point, Santorum stressed the importance of understanding and defining the threats America is facing, and communicating them to the American public. In his view, campaigns such as the War on Terrorism could be much better defined, in order to give Americans something to rally against.

“Who are terrorists?” he asked. “That’s like calling the Nazis ‘Blitzkriegers.’” Santorum called on the government to go behind the term “terrorist” and instead define who the enemy really is, what they want, and what they are doing.

“An uninformed public is not a public you are going to be able to motivate.” He said, advocating for the media’s role in passing information between the government and the public, and criticizing today’s reluctance to label. “We had no problem defining communism, Nazism. There was some discontent but there was no hesitation. Today we have political correctness running amok.”

The importance of decisive identification played into Santorum’s fourth and final point: Americans like to win.

“They don’t like presidents who don’t know how to act,” he said. Santorum called for a stronger, more decisive government connected to the public.

“If America doesn’t lead, no one else is going to,” he said. “We lead because of our credibility, but it’s beginning to erode.”

After his talk, Santorum took questions from the audience for nearly an hour, addressing issues such as climate change and Iran’s nuclear program. Weinberg senior Jeremy Gaines thought it looked like Santorum was in “election mode.”

“I think it was interesting that national security and foreign policy were more or less synonymous throughout the talk,” Gaines said. “He clearly sees the world through the military.”

Lindley French, a senior political science major, also thought Santorum seemed to be gearing up for the election.

“He was a little more vague than I was thinking he would be. I’m assuming that means he’s running for president.” French, however, was uncomfortable with some of Santorum’s statements.

“Calling all terrorists Muslims was a little inappropriate, although he did explain his beliefs behind it,” she said.

When asked about his personal views on gay marriage and abortion, Santorum emphasized that he holds his beliefs firm while advocating for freedom of speech.

“All of us have the right to come into the public square and make our case,” he said.

“I may not agree with your viewpoint on marriage, but I will fight for your right to come out into the public square and try and convince me.”

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