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What exactly does a strong national defense look like?

We all want a strong national defense, but what exactly does that look like? An easy way to measure would be the size of our defense budget. But there are other important things to consider.

Defense is not just about defending our land. Defense is also about maintaining alliances that help us be strong and secure in our efforts at home and abroad. When the president impulsively upends longstanding U.S. foreign policy, as he did recently with the Kurds in Syria, he weakens our national defense. The message to our allies: “You can’t trust us.”

Defense is also about defending our values. When the president repeatedly praises dictators from North Korea, China, Turkey, and especially Russia, he undermines the values that our central to the founding of our nation. If we are not fighting to preserve freedom and democracy, what are we fighting for?

A strong defense is an intelligent defense. Smart decisions about where and how to use our forces are essential. Our military is supported by Intelligence and State Department activities. A president who rejects the findings of our Intelligence agencies about election interference by Russia and embraces conspiracy theories weakens our national defense. A State Department that is hollowed out and undermined for personal political gain weakens our national defense.

A strong defense also depends on upholding military institutions and discipline. When the president issues multiple war crime pardons contrary to the judgment of the Pentagon, as he did recently, he undermines the integrity and discipline of our military.

President Trump may push for more money for defense but at every turn his words and actions weaken the ability of our men and women in uniform to perform their duties safely and effectively. Our representative, Elise Stefanik, continues to stand by him as if she didn’t know any better. I believe that she does know better, and that we deserve better.

BILL DORAN

Broadalbin