Tom believes we are blessed to live in the United States of America, the world’s greatest nation. With that privilege comes the responsibility to maintain America’s strength as a beacon of liberty, democracy, and stability for the world.
The decades-long “Cold War” is behind us, and with it the need for massive military spending to protect our nation. Today, the United States today faces threats such as terrorism, regional unrest, and nuclear proliferation. Yet we also have new opportunities to support people seeking democracy and economic development. Keeping America secure requires not just preventing and containing threats, but maintain a responsible defense posture, and seizing opportunities to promote and build global peace and stability.
One of the most important national security issues facing us today as a nation — in the minds of the people I have met on my walk — is unfortunately not being debated: how much should we be spending to protect our nation, our people, and our prosperity?
The Goal: More Effective National Defense and Foreign Policy
Tom believes in a strong defense, and assuring that America has the best fighting forces in the world. Our military must attract the best and brightest Americans to serve. Our troops must be the best equipped, best trained, most flexible, and most capable fighting forces anywhere. Our armed services must have the resources to plan properly, develop innovative strategies, and maintain their technological advantages in everything from weapons systems, to special forces, intelligence gathering, psychological operations, logistics, civil-military relations, cyber-systems and other facets of defense systems.
Tom also believes that our nation has too often and too quickly chosen war with the hope of immediate success, and without proper exit strategy planning. Let us not repeat the foolish spectacle of George W. Bush declaring “Mission Accomplished” in the opening days of what became a years-long quagmire in Iraq. This is not a wise or sustainable approach to national security.
How Tom Will Make a Difference: Smart Power
America should be relying on its “smart power” to anticipate and respond to the vast majority of national and global security threats.
Tom believes that overdependence upon military tools poses real risks to our nation’s security. War is so much more costly than effective diplomacy, strategically deployed humanitarian assistance, maintaining our economic superiority, and leading by example. With “smart power” we can use our unbounded resources in the form of ideas and values, the capacity to form strong partnerships and alliances, the appeal of our economic prosperity, and our ability to demonstrate the value of our democratic institutions as we uphold the ideals of liberty, equality and justice for all. Smart power stems from prudence and confidence in our abilities. It does not feed upon fears in order to increase military spending.
Understanding this, Tom believes we should engage in an accelerated draw-down of military forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and turn our focus to working with the international community to ensure and support development of a domestic civic, economic, and security infrastructure that can enable the long-term viability of the Afghan nation.
With degrees in international relations and economics, experience as a senior foreign policy advisor to a U.S. Senator, and in Asia and elsewhere managing the complex issues of rebuilding societies and millions of lives wracked by war, Tom understands the complexities of U.S. foreign policy and the practical challenges we face in a complex world. But he also understands the vast potential America has to employ foreign policy to effect extraordinary progress in human rights and the human condition worldwide.
Tom will bring the people’s voice to Washington to hold military budgeting to a higher standard of efficiency and effectiveness. As a former military budget analyst and staff member for Senator Barbara Mikulski, Tom studied and advised on military budgets in the context of overall military planning. He has seen where cuts can be made. He has analyzed how the military can use its resources more efficiently and effectively. He wants to end the contractor malfeasance that lead to the waste of billions of taxpayer dollars. Tom will work for the people in assuring that defense budgets are not just mean, but lean.
Tom believes that a strong America begins at home with a strong economy. America’s ultimate source of strength lies in its people, ideals, and economic vitality. Tom would focus on ensuring that we educate our people, improve our infrastructure, provide opportunities for job creation, support innovation, and fuel the economic engine that enables a healthy society and, in turn, a strong defense and effective foreign policy. Neglect of economic and civic fundamentals is the surest and swiftest path to undermining American national security.
And we must not forget that America’s reliance upon fossil fuels is also a national security issue. The need for access to oil shapes our definition of “vital” interests, affects U.S. relations with other states, and factors into foreign policy decisions. Americans feel the pain of paying $4 for a gallon of gas, but they also understand this dependence is a vulnerability. A high priority for Tom in Washington will be to diversify our energy supply in order to keep America secure.