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“If you don’t make enough weapons to fight three wars, you’ve got to figure out how to focus. My proposal is we focus on ourselves and we focus on our closest allies.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator JD Vance (R-OH) joined CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper to discuss the need to rebuild the U.S. defense industrial base, our limited capacity to support simultaneous conflicts, and the need to focus on America’s core national security interests.

Watch Senator Vance’s remarks here and read excerpts below:

Senator Vance on Democrats’ absurd talking point that Putin prefers a Trump presidency:

The idea that Putin loves Donald Trump or Donald Trump loves Putin is absolutely absurd. Putin was actually pretty well-behaved during the Trump administration. He invaded another country during the Biden administration.

So for these guys to say that Putin prefers Donald Trump completely ignores the underlying realities on the ground here. We actually had some real security deterrence when Donald Trump was president. And of course, it’s not just in Ukraine. Reality shows Putin didn’t like when Donald Trump was president and was a lot better behaved. And I think to accuse Donald Trump of being pro-Putin completely ignores the reality on the ground …

What I think Donald Trump did is he engaged in strategic deterrence. You have to negotiate, sometimes even with bad people, even with your enemies. But you have to deter those people, and if you engage in smart deterrence like Donald Trump did, [Putin] doesn’t invade countries like Ukraine. So I don’t buy that argument, but I understand why Democrats repeat that talking point.

Senator Vance on America being stretched too thin:

My solution to the problem is to rebuild our own country. The reason that we’re in this position, Jake, is because we’re stretched way too thin. We’re stretched way too thin. And the number of weapons systems that we need, that Ukraine needs, that Taiwan needs, that Israel needs, and we can’t do all of these things at once. So when you’re stretched too thin, you’ve got to focus and you’ve got to rebuild your own country.

Let’s take just one of those weapons systems that we’re talking about, 155 millimeter artillery shells. The Russians currently have a 5 to 1 advantage over the Ukrainians. The Israelis will need this stuff. The Taiwanese need the stuff. And of course, America needs this stuff. Can we possibly fight all of those conflicts at once? No, the math just doesn’t make sense.

So what we should be doing is with Ukraine, encouraging them to take a defensive posture, not these disastrous counteroffensives the Biden administration has been promoting … I’m not passing judgment on the morality of what they’re doing, of course it’s their territory, Jake, but you have to acknowledge military reality on the ground. If they’re going to waste a ton of money, a ton of lives, and a ton of ammunition on a counter offensive strategy, but a defensive strategy might actually work, we’ve got to choose the strategy that might actually work.

Senator Vance on the need to rebuild America’s defense industrial base:

Foreign policy is not a nursery rhyme, and [Iran’s attempt to strike Israel] should serve as a wake up call, but it should serve as a wake up call that we have to rebuild our own industrial base.

Let’s take another weapons system that’s really important, the Patriot interceptor system, almost definitely saved a lot of Israeli lives last night. The Ukrainians want thousands of those per year. Do you know how many we manufacture in a year, Jake? 550. I’ve repeated this for years now, we cannot possibly support Ukraine and Israel and our own defense needs in the way that these guys demand.

So I think we should focus. I think Israel’s a much closer ally, is a much more core American national security interest. And, of course, we got to focus on ourselves. That means encouraging the Ukrainians to take a defensive strategy. 

Senator Vance on calls to pass the Senate-passed supplementalfunding package: 

You’re gong to hear a lot of calls across Washington, D.C. that we now have to pass the supplemental.

But if we pass the Ukraine and Israel supplemental and send a ton of weapons to Ukraine that the Israelis need, we’re actually weakening Israel in the name of helping them. It doesn’t make any sense, it ignores mathematical reality…

It’s not about the money, again, it’s about the weapons. If we pass the supplemental, we go from making 550 patriot interceptors to 650. That’s 100 more, and the world needs thousands of these things. So, really, it goes back to the basic math of this. If you don’t make enough weapons to fight three wars, you’ve got to figure out how to focus. And my proposal is we focus on ourselves and we focus on our closest allies.

Senator Vance on the risk of escalation in the Middle East and reestablishing peace through strength:

I certainly think there is a real fear of escalation, Senator Coons is right about that. Part of the reason why we have a fear of escalation, Jake, is because our deterrence is so weak. And why is it so weak? Because the world sees the United States that’s stretched so thin. I think if we want to reestablish deterrence, the most important thing is not how we or Israel respond to this attack. It’s how we focus on the long term on rebuilding our country. 

People aren’t worried that we’re not thumping our chests enough. I know that’s the John Bolton response to this. People think that the United States is a paper tiger right now. We’ve got to rebuild our manufacturing capacity. We’ve got to rebuild our capacity to support our own troops and our allies with weapons systems.

That is what will reestablish deterrence. And that’s unfortunately why I think the supplemental actually spreads us even further and even thinner, instead of focusing. Focus is what’s going to create deterrence …

The Senate could pass an Israel supplemental tomorrow in the United States Senate. The House has taken it up already. The Senate’s already taken up a couple different versions that Senate Democrats have blocked. So we could get this out of the US Congress tomorrow if Democrats didn’t block it.

And again, we’ve got to focus on our core problems. I think Israel’s much more important to the United States than Ukraine is.