On the Foreign Affairs Committee, I have the honor of serving as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade. The Subcommittee is at the forefront of some of the most important issues facing our country. My main focus is the catastrophic, global threat posed by Islamist terrorism, especially the al-Qaeda network and its affiliates. I use the bipartisan 9/11 Commission recommended "Islamist terrorism" to describe the threat we face, for if the enemy is not clearly understood, then strategies to defeat it are bound to fail.
The Subcommittee explores issues such as the ideology that inspires terrorism; terrorist financing; terrorist sanctuaries and failed states; and capacity building of foreign forces to fight terrorism. The Subcommittee's jurisdiction over nonproliferation issues is crucial given the severity of the threat of weapons of mass destruction falling into terrorist hands.
My interest in terrorism predates the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. In Congressional hearings in 1996, I warned of the terrorist breeding ground in Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda was training. I authored the Radio Free Afghanistan Act of 2001, bringing a voice of tolerance and freedom to a region that was once dominated by Taliban-run hate radio. Combining my work on the Financial Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, I am a founding member and Co-Chairman of the bipartisan Task Force on Terrorism and Proliferation Financing, which seeks to strengthen efforts to fight against the funding of terrorism.
When I chaired the Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Nonproliferation in the 109th Congress, I led efforts to combat the proliferation of shoulder-fired missiles, of which there is a thriving black-market. My Subcommittee dug deep into the A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network and I led efforts in the House to pass the historic U.S.-India civil nuclear cooperation agreement.
Of course, the two greatest nonproliferation challenges we face are Iran and North Korea. A nuclear-armed Iran would have severe consequences, as many neighboring states would likely pursue nuclear weapons programs of their own, not to mention its active state-sponsorship of terrorism. For this reason, I was critical of the National Intelligence Estimate that downplayed the threat from Iran, noting that Iran continues to actively pursue uranium enrichment technology, the most difficult a step in the path to nuclear bomb making. With respect to North Korea, I have been critical of our policy. To date, it is still unclear as to whether North Korea intends to give up its nuclear weapons. All the while, North Korea's sophisticated illicit nuclear procurement network goes unaddressed, while U.S. concessions entrench a hostile regime.
Lastly, the Subcommittee has jurisdiction over matters relating to international economic and trade policy. At a time when our economy is struggling, exports have been a bright spot. We could improve that, by slashing tariffs aboard for U.S. businesses. You can't sell the goods if they’re taxed out or otherwise shut-out of foreign markets. To that point, U.S. exports to countries with which we've struck trade agreements have jumped dramatically. Unfortunately, the Democratic-led Congress has knee jerk opposed trade agreements. Consider Colombia. Earlier this year, this Congress passed legislation allowing most all Colombian exports to enter the U.S. market tax-free. Yet the Democrats have shot down an agreement that would force Colombia to reduce substantially its taxes on U.S. goods, meaning U.S. exports will remain less competitive.