Foreign Policy and Defense

In an ever-changing geopolitical landscape, one thing remains constant: the United States will defend its people from all enemies. We learned a devastating lesson on September 11, 2001. As a first-hand witness to the horror of that day, I recognize that ensuring the safety of the American people is the single most important function of government.

We will stand with our allies and employ every resource at our disposal to deter and confront hostile actors around the world. We will promote stability abroad by helping developing nations move steadily toward economic prosperity and democratic governance. And we will defend our nation without bankrupting it.

Keeping America Strong

No one questions the might of the American military. Our armed forces can meet any challenge anywhere on Earth. I clearly remember the night that the President announced the success of the mission to kill Osama bin Laden. As I absorbed the full meaning of that fateful night, I found myself marveling at the competence with which military men and women protect us all, carrying out the orders of our elected, civilian leadership half a world away.

We will maintain that capacity to keep America safe and defend our interests around the world. But we must always reassess the threats we face, and be sure we are fully prepared to combat today's threats, not yesterday's. That means rethinking expenditures on weapons systems we may not need or maintaining overseas bases that serve no ongoing national security interest. If we spend too much on the threats we no longer face, we put our nation's financial security at risk.

The totality of our security cannot be measured by counting planes, boats, missiles and tanks alone. In the 21st century we need an efficient military. I support efforts to modernize our military capability, and I will always make sure we do not spend money we don't have on projects we don't need. Only by doing both do we keep America strong.

Embracing our Allies, Isolating Our Enemies

The United States' power is not merely a function of its military prowess. We are the most influential nation on the world stage by far because we are uniquely capable of helping other nations prosper and live in freedom.

When we develop strong diplomatic and economic bonds with nations around the world, all of us benefit. Our long-standing alliances in Europe and Asia form the bedrock of global prosperity. Today, we are forging similar ties with developing nations, bringing greater stability to an uncertain world. I support these relationships, which is why I helped pass free trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia that open foreign markets to American goods and help the economies of those countries expand.

Of course, there remain nations where tyrannical governments refuse to embrace modernity. These countries, including Iran and North Korea, inflict unspeakable hardships on their people. Normal diplomatic relationships are impossible, so we must resort to aggressive diplomacy, sanctions, and military vigilance.

The tide has shifted recently in many nations, as fragile democracies form in place of fallen dictatorships. Me must continue to isolate and weaken the states where those exploit power and live in fear of their people, condemn the use of violence to suppress political expression, and utilize the appropriate tools to weaken these regimes.

Bringing Our Troops Home

After more than a decade at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, we are finally bringing our troops home. When I first ran for Congress in 2008, I opposed the war in Iraq. I'm glad to say that war is finally over. Now, the conflict in Afghanistan is ending.

I support the planned drawdown of troop levels in Afghanistan. For years, I have been calling for the United States to forego a conventional occupation to focus exclusively on counter-terrorism there. We have a continuing security interest in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which is best served by a force just large enough to monitor and disrupt terrorist activities in the region. It should be no larger than that.

Our Partnership with Israel

Israel is a friend and ally to the United States, and its legitimate security needs are critically important. I am hopeful that peace can be achieved among Israel and its neighbors through engagement and dialogue. While such negotiations have been dealt setbacks in recent years, the goal of peace remains attainable.

Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist organizations which present ongoing, real threats to the security of the Israeli people. Both organizations seek Israel's destruction. Iranian efforts to acquire nuclear weapons only deepen the threat to the security of our ally. Israel faces unconscionable hostility and real threats from the governments of nearby nations and terrorist organizations alike.

Part of securing a lasting and just peace throughout the region is the creation of a viable, autonomous Palestinian state living in peace with Israel. The two-state solution is the only viable long-term solution, most likely to lead to a sustainable atmosphere of peace in the Middle East.

I support all efforts to make the hostility Israel faces a thing of the past and share the vision of two states living side by side in peace.

Promoting Stability Abroad

Targeted, effective international aid is an essential tool for the United States to promote peace and security around the world. Evil plots and twisted philosophies are born in the corners of the world where isolated people know nothing but suffering and despair. The small amount we invest in aid provide food where children are hungry and hope where there is none. It is not only the right thing to do, it's in our security interest to help. It's hard to hate the nation that helped your family when the famine struck or brought clean water to your village.

Having spent the first years of my life in Latin America, where my father worked for the Ford Foundation, I know that the State Department isn't theonly source of American ambassadors. Non-governmental organizations like Westport-based Save the Children and Stamford's AmeriCares do essential work alleviating the suffering of millions. I support their efforts, and I support prudent, effective government assistance to complement what they do every day.

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