Manhattan Keeping America strong requires such things as quality education for children and strong national security, U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts said Friday.
"It won't be sustained just because we are Americans," Watts said.
The Oklahoma congressman also said a peaceful Middle East solution wouldn't happen anytime soon because of the complexities involved, including trying to maintain Arab allies to fight the war against terrorism.
"If President Bush spends 24-7 on the Middle East for the next seven years, the next president will inherit it," Watts said.
As for U.S. support of the Jewish state, Watts said, "I believe America should be a staunch supporter of Israel."
Watts, the fourth-ranking member of the House Republican leadership, made his comments during a speech that was part of the Landon Lecture Series at Kansas State University.
A key ingredient for keeping the United States strong, he said, is ensuring a first-class education system throughout the nation.
"The first thing we need to do is make sure every child in America can go to a venue of learning that is safe," Watts said.
He said schools also needed to teach skills to prepare children to better deal with the future, including the expanding global economy.
Watts said the Sept. 11 attacks had been "a shot across the bow" in underscoring the need for strong national security.
"One thing I guarantee you. We will have to fight wars. I can't tell when or where," said Watts, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
"National defense is common sense to not ask our soldiers to fight with one hand tied behind them," he said.
Watts said a strong national security also meant an energy policy that relied less on foreign oil, especially from the Middle East.
He said there were other, less volatile areas of the world to find oil, such as Africa.
"We must be less dependent on foreign oil and more dependent on our homeland," the congressman said. "The energy policy is a national security issue."
The Senate rejected Bush's plan of oil drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The House has approved such drilling.