Op-Ed: Safety at home and abroad, from terrorism to food security
Nothing is more important than the safety and security of the people of Hawaii and our country. As a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, I am focused on keeping the American people safe from threats to our national security, environment, communities and fellow citizens.
For too long, our country’s leaders have refused to meet and negotiate directly with North Korea, and have held onto failed policies that resulted in a nuclear-armed North Korea with intercontinental ballistic missiles that put Hawaii and the mainland squarely within range. President Donald Trump needs to meet with Kim Jong Un to conduct direct negotiations without preconditions, in order to de-escalate and ultimately denuclearize the peninsula. Until then, we must also invest in cutting edge missile defense technology. We must always be willing to sit down with our adversaries, not just our friends, to pursue all avenues of peace.
We must also recognize that decades of U.S.-led regime change wars have caused Kim to develop and tighten his grip on nuclear weapons to ensure his regime does not suffer the same fate of Gaddafi in Libya and Saddam in Iraq. We must, once and for all, end our policy of regime change wars and make a commitment that our country will end our efforts to overthrow the governments of Syria, Iran, Venezuela or other countries.
Tomorrow is the 16th anniversary of 9/11, and al-Qaeda is stronger than ever before, in part due to a CIA-led program I have long called to end. For years, the CIA provided U.S.-taxpayer funds, arms, and intelligence to armed militants allied with al-Qaeda, fighting to overthrow the Syrian government. While Trump recently ended this program in Syria, our taxpayer dollars and military assets are still being used by Saudi Arabia in Yemen to strengthen al-Qaeda and directly and indirectly kill hundreds of thousands of Yemeni civilians — including the resultant famine and diseases like cholera. We must end our support for interventionist wars that drain our resources and threaten our national security by immediately passing my bipartisan bill, the Stop Arming Terrorist Act.
Just as we fight for peace and security abroad, we must address threats that exist here at home. We must end the war being waged against our environment by those who place profits above people and our planet. I’ve introduced legislation that will build on the momentum already created by Hawaii’s leadership in clean energy by setting national clean energy standards, and investing in infrastructure that protects and preserves our precious water resources.
We must address the threat to our food security as Hawaii continues to import more than 85 percent of its food. In the 2018 Farm Bill, I’m working with Hawaii farmers to empower those growing food to feed our people, rather than more giveaways to big, agribusiness corporations.
We must end the failed and destructive war on drugs that has so devastated our families and communities. It has overburdened our criminal justice system, torn families apart and made criminals out of so many Americans. I’ve introduced criminal justice reform legislation, including a bill to legalize marijuana and take it off of the Federal Controlled Substances List.
We must pass legislation that permanently solves the crisis facing our DREAMers. Last week, I met with DREAMers on Maui who shared stories of being brought to Hawaii as young children, and who know no other home than Maui. Failing to fix this legislatively is a betrayal to them and their families.
We must end our destructive legacy of counterproductive regime change wars and nation-building overseas, and instead invest in rebuilding our communities here at home by overhauling our failing infrastructure, ensuring affordable housing is available to end our homeless crisis, invigorating our economy, strengthening our health care system, improving education, and creating a better future for us all.
Originally published in the Honolulu Star Advertiser on September 18, 2017