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Security challenges are rising risks from the global financial crisis
Security challenges are rising risks from the global financial crisis

Congressman Ike Skelton
WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 29, 2009) — As I have examined the economic crisis and the legislative solutions to it, I have paid particular attention to its effect on U.S. national security. According to recent Congressional testimony delivered by the Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Dennis Blair, the global economic crisis and the political and social instability associated with it have become the greatest threat to American security. As the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, this concerns me a great deal.

Throughout history, we have witnessed how economic crises can have consequences on national security. Hyper-inflation in Germany was a significant factor in the rise of Hitler. The economic decay of the Soviet Union led to regime change across Eastern Europe. A serious economic crisis also preceded the French Revolution. In the United States, our economic strength has always been the foundation for our national power and our national security.

To further explore how the current global financial crisis is affecting national security, the House Armed Services Committee recently held a hearing with a distinguished panel of economic and national security experts. We learned that at a minimum, the global financial crisis will exacerbate an already growing set of political and economic challenges facing the world. And, that it distracts and strains our allies and generates conditions that could provide fodder for terrorism.

While most of the experts we heard from agreed that the strongest economies will weather this storm, it is the fragile states that worry them the most. Emerging democracies throughout Eastern and Central Europe, Africa, and Asia will turn to the Western world for support. If we cannot or do not help them, they may be forced into economic alliances of necessity with negative long-term consequences.

Given today’s global economic crisis, Congress and the President must come together and respond to these challenges with a bold and comprehensive plan. We must restore our economy, maintain and enhance our key instruments of national power, including the Department of Defense, and take an approach with the world that reestablishes our credibility and claim to world leadership. We must support our friends and maintain our alliances. Most of all, we must not become so self-absorbed that we fail to recognize our long-term strategic interests.

In spite of the challenges, I am hopeful that Congress and the President will take the necessary steps to turn our economy around. Historically, the United States has always turned its gravest challenges into its greatest accomplishments. We too must rise to the occasion to build a new era of freedom and justice around the world.

Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) serves as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman Skelton’s website is at http://www.house.gov/skelton.

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