Scott Perry and the Undermining of America’s National Security

As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), I would like to take a moment to focus on what is perhaps the most pressing issue of our time: America’s national security.

According to the Department of Defense (DOD), the current national security environment is “more complex and volatile than any we have experienced in recent memory.” Indeed, authoritarianism is on the rise; potential nuclear crises with Russia, North Korea, and Iran loom on the horizon; and our critical infrastructure is currently vulnerable to a massive Chinese cyberattack.

To counteract these national security threats and preserve America’s position of strength in the international community, the DOD has called for the implementation of a two-pronged strategy: First, we must develop “[a] more lethal, resilient, and rapidly innovating Joint Force.” And second, we must cultivate “a robust constellation of allies and partners.” If all goes according to plan, we will be able to “sustain American influence and ensure favorable balances of power that safeguard the free and open international order.”

Representative Scott Perry, however, has not only ignored the DOD’s recommendations, he has taken actions that jeopardize the DOD’s strategy altogether. Consider two recent examples.

The first is Perry’s support of President Trump’s decision to declare a national emergency at the southwest border—a decision that calls for the deployment of 6,000 active-duty troops to the border (not to mention the siphoning of $100 million from Pennsylvania military projects, but that’s for another post).

In February 2019, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Neller, informed the Pentagon that sending 6,000 troops to the border poses an “unacceptable risk to Marine Corps combat readiness and solvency.” The unplanned diversion of troops to the border, Gen. Neller warned, will force the Military to substantially reduce or entirely forgo planned training exercises in at least five countries — a development that will diminish “the individual and collective skills necessary to prepare for high-end combat.”

Perry’s position on border security, in other words, not only conflicts with the DOD’s first strategic priority of developing a more lethal Joint Force, but it is directly contradicted by the head of the Marine Corps.

Consider another example. In January 2019, the House, by a vote of 357–22, passed the NATO Support Act, which prohibits President Trump from withdrawing the United States from NATO.

The Act’s significance cannot be overstated. According to the DOD, the “central challenge” to America’s national security in 2019 is “long-term, strategic competition” from China and Russia. This view was recently corroborated by the Director of National Intelligence, Daniel Coats, who told Congress in January that China and Russia are currently “more aligned than at any point since the mid-1950s.” “Both countries,” Coats cautioned, seek to undermine international alliances and “redirect discussions away from human rights, democracy, and good governance.”

The NATO Support Act responds to these national security concerns in two primary ways: First, it reaffirms America’s commitment to our allies and reminds the world that the problems of our time can be solved only through international collaboration. Second, it frustrates the deliberate, autocratic efforts of China and Russia to erode the world’s pro-democratic alliances. In the words of Gen. James Mattis (Ret.), “If we did not have NATO today, we would need to create it.”

Scott Perry was one of the 22 Representatives to vote against the Act. In doing so, he voted against the recommendations of our Military; he voted against the interests of our allies; and he voted against the safety of his constituents. His vote, in short, aligns with the interests of China and Russia, not the United States.

As these two examples make clear, Perry’s rhetoric and voting record are antithetical to our country’s national defense strategy. His rigid support of the President’s national emergency declaration hinders our Military’s lethality and preparedness, and his vote against the NATO Support Act disparages our efforts to cultivate a robust constellation of allies and partners.

Solving the perilous problems of our time requires real leadership — leadership based on objective problem-solving and sober collaboration, not fanatic ideology and insular partisanship.

As your representative in Congress, I promise to support our military, uphold our international alliances, and endorse concrete solutions to real-world problems.

President Harry S. Truman (seated) signs a proclamation declaring into effect the 12-nation North Atlantic Pact.