Congressman Peter Roskam

Representing the 6th District of Illinois

Roskam Talks Iran Deal, Russian Aggression on Polish TV

Aug 25, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC—Last week, Congressman Peter Roskam (IL-06), co-chair of the House Republican Israel Caucus and Chairman of the House Democracy Partnership, joined Polish TV’s Piotr Kraśko in Warsaw, Poland to discuss U.S.-Poland relations, the Iran nuclear agreement, Russia’s ongoing aggression toward Ukraine, and the state of America’s role in the world.

Click here or below to watch the full video.

On Russian Aggression Toward Ukraine
“Well, you’re closer to it in Warsaw than I am in Washington or where my home is in Chicago, but I was in Ukraine and Georgia last month leading a delegation of American Members of Congress, and nobody has to convince me [of] the nature of the Russian threat, the aggressiveness, and how important it is for the West to stand up to the aggression of Putin. So, it’s all a matter of perspective, I accept that at face value, but I view us as all in this together.”

“Well, it’s regrettable that during the debate between Mitt Romney and President Obama in 2012, Mitt Romney talked about Russia as being a key opponent of the United States, and President Obama mocked him—he made fun of him. And I think if he could reclaim that, President Obama may not want to have made that mocking, condescending statement. Because look, the nature of Vladimir Putin and his designs are aggressive, they’re strategic, he knows what he’s doing, he’s taking incremental steps along the way. And he’s probing, and he’s testing, and he’s testing the resolve of the West. I was in Ukraine last month, as I mentioned, and had an opportunity to meet with President Poroshenko and a number of the other Ukrainian leaders. And while there it became very, very clear to me that Ukraine has turned a new leaf, they’re dealing with a number of the corruption issues internally, and there’s a great opportunity. But they need to be supported not just from a financial point of view, they need the financial support—Natalie Jaresko, the chairman of the Finance Ministry, needs that support. But also they need more military support. And I think it is regrettable that the United States is not providing that.”

On the Greatest Threat to the United States
“Well, if I were going to have to judge it, I would say Iran right now because of the nature of this agreement that President Obama wants the U.S. to get involved in. I think it’s a terrible agreement, and I’m doing everything I can to stop it in the United States. Now, that said, I mean to your point, implicitly that’s not the only threat. There’s voices of authoritarianism that are around the world, and these voices have to be dealt with, and they have to be dealt with with clarity and with solidarity and unity. And the idea of sort of splitting the West up and saying this is our priority and that’s not a priority is a foolish game. And I think we’ve got to recognize the Iranian threat is significant, the Russian threat is significant, the rise of ISIS is significant, and we don’t the luxury of saying these are mutually exclusive. In many cases, they’re deeply interconnected.”

On the Iran Nuclear Agreement
“It’s a mistake in my opinion because it’s unverifiable. So, remember what President Reagan, who is so highly regarded here in Poland said about the Soviet Union? He said trust and verify. This is not trust and verify—it’s trust and hope that the Iranians are going to do do what they say they’re going to do. There is no opportunity to do a 24 hour, 7 day a week, 365 days a year inspection. It gives the Iranians $150 billion in an infusion of cash into their economy. And even the proponents of this deal will tell you that it is their expectation actually that the Iranians are going to use some of this money, and that’s probably billions of dollars, for illicit activities and terrorism around the world. And the other thing is it gives the Iranians the imprimatur of approval of a nuclear ambition that is peaceful. That’s ridiculous. It is not a peaceful nuclear ambition. They’re using it to try and drive their agenda around the world and we need to stop them.”

“Look, they got ten billion dollars in sanctions relief simply for sitting down during the negotiations. How ridiculous is that? They gave up absolutely nothing and they got ten billion dollars in sanctions relief. And then I think they had the Obama administration on a roll. And they’ve come up with this agreement, and there’s a lot of opposition to it in the United States Congress. I predict that we will be able to have a majority of the members of the House and the Senate vote against it. President Obama will surely veto it. And the question is can we override his veto—and that’s an open question right now.”

On U.S. Energy Independence
“It’s just incredible. I mean, the United States is on the verge of an energy renaissance—just an absolute renaissance—that would create so much opportunity and buoyancy. And think about that energy if it were made available to our friends in Europe. That would decouple the relationship that is a stranglehold that Vladimir Putin has over a number of European countries. And the ability to pursue that energy and make that available on the world market would make us less dependent obviously on these nations, these authoritarian nations, in the Middle East, and more available to make it for our friends.”

“Sometimes, America’s policies limit America’s potential. And that’s what the United States is trying to sort out right now. And look, there’s a lot of ambiguity in the United States today about what is the role of the United States around the world. There are some voices that say that the United States is not a force for good. There are others that say that the U.S., that the sun has gone down on it in terms of influence. I reject both of those. I think that the United States has an incredibly important role to play, but we’ve got to do it from a position of strength—economic strength, military strength, and strength in pursuing our own natural resources.”

On U.S. Military Presence in Poland

“Well, we’re in the midst of a presidential campaign. It’s a year-long venture as you know, and part of the discussion is this exact projection of power vis-à-vis Russia. So, I am of the opinion that we would be much better off to project strength, and particularly here in Poland and the Baltic States that are saying look, we want more of a NATO presence here, it has a restraining influence. There’s a counterargument that says, well you’re going to provoke Vladimir Putin. And my suggestion is yeah that’s ridiculous—he’s provoked already. The idea that we’re going to extra-provoke him? Forget about it. He’s provoked already, so let’s meet the provocation with clarity. Ambiguity is a disaster when it comes to foreign policy. Clarity and naming things and being strong and together I think makes all the difference in the world.”

On the Future of the United States
“I think it’s always--are we living up to our potential? And are we dealing with the nature of the threats that are out there? I am someone who clearly believes that the best days of the United States are always ahead. I spend a lot of time with young children and with students interacting with them, and I come away from these discussions very upbeat and very optimistic about the direction of the country and what our potential is. I think about things that the United States has been through historically—in my parents’ lifetime, in my grandparents’ lifetime—difficulties that a complicated country has managed to overcome and persevere. So, I have every confidence that the United States will emerge and will lead and be the type of nation that is a willing partner and a valid partner for freedom-loving people all over the world. It’s challenging, and the nature of the challenge has gotten more and more complex with these rising voices of authoritarianism, but I’m convinced that we’ll be able to do it.”