The United States must do “whatever is necessary and required” to destroy the Islamic State, Sen. Ted Cruz said Thursday, laying out a muscular foreign policy that would target that terrorist army and reassert American leadership on the world stage.
Cruz, R-Texas, recalled Ronald Reagan’s decisive role in dismantling Soviet communism during the Cold War, saying that a similar track should be taken in the fight against today’s enemy: Islamic terrorism. Its bloodiest practitioner, he said, is the Islamic State, or ISIS.
“This is an enemy that can and will be defeated,” Cruz said during an hour-long speech at The Heritage Foundation in which he called President Obama “an apologist” for terrorism.
The massacre that left 130 dead in Paris last month and the recent attack in San Bernardino, Calif., that killed 14 underscore the need for American “vigilance” against terrorists, the Texas Republican said.
His foreign policy proposal included securing the nation’s southern border with a wall and preventing refugees who come from “terror-ridden countries,” particularly Syria, from entering the U.S.
“It only takes one in a sea of millions to destroy our safety and to take unknown numbers of innocent lives,” he said, noting reports confirming one of the Paris attackers Nov. 13 had entered the country using a fake Syrian passport.
Cruz advocated ramping up the U.S. bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria, where ISIS maintains a stronghold. But he stopped short of pushing for U.S. combat troops to put boots on the ground.
In an effort to strike middle ground between the Republican Party’s national security hawks and non-interventionists, Cruz fought against reauthorizing the federal government’s mass data collection program housed at the National Security Agency under the post-9/11 Patriot Act.
He told his Heritage audience:
There are some on both the right and the left who want to exploit the current crisis by calling on Americans to surrender our constitutional liberties as the only way to ensure our safety. Hoarding tens of billions of records of ordinary citizens didn’t stop Fort Hood, it didn’t stop Boston, it didn’t stop Garland[, Texas,] and it failed to stop the San Bernardino plot.
Cruz was referring to four of the most notorious attacks on American soil by Islamic terrorists.
The senator instead called for a narrowed phone surveillance program, highlighting his role in co-sponsoring the USA Freedom Act, which ended bulk data collection and instead required law enforcement to obtain evidence that targeted phones and other devices are tied to terrorist activity.
Cruz also repeatedly hit the Obama administration for ignoring the threat of Islamic terrorism, charging that Obama has acted as an “apologist” who is focused more on advancing politically correct rhetoric than on destroying ISIS.
“The problem has been festering unattended for the entire Obama administration,” he said:
Let’s take off the blinders. It’s time to say that these attacks are not isolated incidents. These wolves are not lone, they are instead operating as an ideological pack.