The consequences of inaction: A conversation with Sen. John Cornyn
About This Event


Event Summary

Are recent foreign policy debacles doing lasting damage to US credibility at home and abroad? At AEI on Wednesday, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) sat down with AEI's Danielle Pletka to address this question and more. Sen. Cornyn argued that with each passing day, President Obama's foreign policy looks more like a case study in the perils of weakness, naiveté, and indecision; it has alarmed America's friends, emboldened its adversaries, and seriously weakened US credibility. He continued that Americans are not comfortable with seeing the US retreat from the world. President Obama therefore needs to specifically identify national security threats and communicate those threats to the American public.

In Iraq, the senator said, it is a mistake to pull the plug on a fragile democracy before it is able to stand on its own; the country still lacks the institutions we take for granted. Now faced with the crisis in Ukraine, Sen. Cornyn encouraged the administration to keep in mind America's standing commitments to the country. In the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in exchange for pledges from the United States, Russia, and the United Kingdom to respect Ukraine's territorial sovereignty. With Russia now in open defiance of the memorandum, the question is: What will the United States do about it?

While Obama believes the US can either "do nothing" or "put boots on the ground," the senator stressed that the US in fact has a full array of foreign policy tools to use.
--Alex Della Rocchetta

Event Description

There is no escaping the impression that the Obama administration has weakened America’s standing on the world stage. Considering the commitments Obama made to restore the nation’s stature against a backdrop of escalating crises across Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, fewer and fewer Americans now judge the president’s foreign policy a success. But are the latest debacles doing lasting damage to US credibility? Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) argues in the affirmative and brings fresh ideas to the table for renewed American leadership. 

Please join us for a conversation with Senator Cornyn as we discuss foreign policy challenges and the role of Congress.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.

This event will be livestreamed.


8:15 AM

8:30 AM
John Cornyn, US Senate (R-TX)

Danielle Pletka, AEI

9:30 AM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Alex Della Rocchetta at [email protected], 202.862.7152.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

John Cornyn is currently serving his second term representing Texas in the US Senate and is the author of the Patent Abuse Reduction Act of 2013. He was first elected in 2002, reelected in 2008, and was selected by his colleagues in 2013 to be the Republican whip. Sen. Cornyn currently serves on both the Senate Committee on Finance and the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Before his election to the Senate, Sen. Cornyn served in Texas as a district judge, a member of the Supreme Court of Texas, and as attorney general of Texas.

Danielle Pletka
was a long-time US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia. In that role, Pletka was the point person on the Middle East, Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan issues. As the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI, Pletka writes on national security matters with a focus on Iran and weapons proliferation, the Middle East, Syria, Israel, and the Arab Spring. She also studies and writes about South Asia (Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan). She is the coeditor of “Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats” (AEI Press, 2008) and the coauthor of “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran” (AEI Press, 2011). Her most recent study, “Iranian influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan,” was published in May 2012. She is currently working on a follow-up report on US–Iranian competitive strategies in the Middle East, to be published in the winter of 2013.

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