The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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MSC SCONA continues with Congressman Bill Flores

Photo by Photo by: Lawrence Smelser

Congressman Bill Flores, Class of 1976, spoke Thursday about the dangers facing the nation today.

An increasingly unstable Middle East was at the forefront of United States congressman Bill Flores’ talk at the MSC Student Conference on National Affairs Thursday.

Flores, who graduated from Texas A&M in 1976, has been the representative for Texas’ 17th congressional district since 2011. Flores’ speech was part of the 61st MSC SCONA and highlighted problems and solutions to issues around the world.

“The United States has not faced a more diverse and complex array of crises since the end of the second World War,” Flores said. “Our freedom of navigation, sovereignty of nations and human rights are now on the decline. To put it simply, the world is becoming an ever more increasingly unstable place.”

Flores named some of the major threats to the U.S. and its allies as an expansionist China, a rogue North Korea, a Putin-led Russia and most of all an increasingly unstable Middle East.

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“In the Middle East we probably face our most serious set of challenges, and that’s because of the rise of radical Islamic terrorism,” Flores said. “This rise of ISIS…has presented not only to the United States but to the international community one of the greatest challenges that we’ve ever had.”

Flores said stabilization in the Middle East and the elimination of Islamic terror groups can only happen if the United States works together with the Arab community.

“The solution to Middle East peace has got to have an Arab face, it’s got to have an Islamic face,” Flores said. “What they need from us is our support … They need to know that we’ll be there for them. They will fight [terrorism] if they know that we’re there.”

Besides the Middle East, Flores also discussed the challenges posed in Asia and Europe, such as an unpredictable Russia. Flores emphasized the need to support European countries under Russian oppression by offering diplomatic and economic assistance.

“One of the best things we could do in terms of economic engagement is do what we just did a few weeks ago and that is to lift the ban on American oil exports,” Flores said. “From Poland to the Baltic states they’re saying, ‘Give us some supply options so that we’re not tied to Russia.’”

While stating that the United States should not be the world’s policemen, Flores said maintaining the strongest military in the world is key to maintaining peace and discussed the need to rebuild the naval fleet to its former size and upgrade cyber security. 

“The best solution to deal with a world that’s challenged like this is a strong and prosperous America that exhibits America’s strength and American leadership on a consistent basis,” Flores said. “And that takes multiple components. One is, we need to have the strongest military in the world. Second is, we need to have the strongest [international] alliance in the world, and the third is, we need to engage in vigorous diplomacy with everyone — our friends and our enemies.”

Flores said some military action will be necessary to address the issues faced by the United States, but the most important factor will be strong international relations and the reassuming of a leadership role.

“The question all of us need to ponder today is, ‘if America doesn’t lead the world, who will?’” Flores said.

The lecture concluded with a question and answer session in which Flores answered questions from students attending the event.

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