At the dawn of a new century and on the brink of a new presidency, the United States today needs to reclaim the moral high ground that defined our foreign policy for much of the last century.
We must move beyond the wreckage created by one of the greatest strategic failures in U.S. history: the war in Iraq. Rather than alienating the rest of the world through assertions of infallibility and demands of obedience, as the current administration has done, U.S. foreign policy must be driven by a strategy of reengagement. We must reengage with our history of courage, liberty, and generosity. We must reengage with our tradition of moral leadership on issues ranging from the killings in Darfur to global poverty and climate change. We must reengage with our allies on critical security issues, including terrorism, the Middle East, and nuclear proliferation. With confidence and resolve, we must reengage with those who pose a security threat to us, from Iran to North Korea. And our government must reengage with the American people to restore our nation's reputation as a moral beacon to the world, tapping into our fundamental hope and optimism and calling on our citizens' commitment and courage to make this possible. We must lead the world by demonstrating the power of our ideals, not by stoking fear about those who do not share them.
The last century saw tremendous advances in the human condition -- from increased economic prosperity to the spread of human rights and the emergence of a truly global community. But the century also brought two devastating world wars, the death of millions, and a Cold War that lasted two generations and risked the end of humanity. The new century, too, will bring both promise and peril. We can look forward to incredible technological advances in communications and medicine and an expanding world economy that will lift millions out of poverty while raising the standards of living for working people at home and abroad.
But we must also prepare for a world filled with new risks: the increasing reach of nonstate actors who reject our very way of life, the consequences of global climate change, and the possibility that dangerous technology will fall into the wrong hands. We can lead the world through these challenges, just as the United States led the world through the challenges of the previous century. But we can only do so if we reclaim the trust and respect of those countries whose cooperation we need but whose will we cannot compel.
RESTORING AMERICA'S REPUTATION
This century's first test of our leadership arrived with terrible force on September 11, 2001. When the United States was attacked, the entire world stood with us. We could have pursued a broad policy of reengagement with the world, yet instead we squandered this broad support through a series of policies that drove away our friends and allies. A recent Pew survey showed the United States' approval ratings plummeting throughout the world between 2000 and 2006. This decline was especially worrisome in Muslim countries of strategic importance to the United States, such as Indonesia, where approval dropped from 75 percent to 30 percent, and Turkey, where it fell from 52 percent to 12 percent. Perceptions of America's efforts to promote democracy have suffered as well. In 33 of the 47 countries surveyed by the Pew Research Center, majorities or pluralities expressed dislike for American ideas of democracy.
We need a new path, one that will lead to reengagement with the world and restoration of the United States' moral authority in the community of nations. President Harry Truman once said, "No one nation alone can bring peace. Together, nations can build a strong defense against aggression and combine the energy of free men everywhere in building a better future for all." For 50 years, presidents from Truman and Dwight Eisenhower to Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton built strong alliances and deepened the world's respect for us. We gained that respect by viewing our military strength not as an end in itself but as a means to protect a system of laws and institutions that gave hope to billions across the globe. In avoiding the temptation to rule as an empire, we hastened the fall of a corrupt and evil one in the Soviet Union. The lesson is that we cannot only be warriors; we must be thinkers and leaders as well.
And so as we contemplate a national security policy for a new century, we must ask ourselves far-reaching questions: Are we truly denying our enemies what they seek? Are we doing all we can to win the war not only of weapons but also of ideas? Are we battling the fear our enemies sow by planting seeds of hope instead?
This is about much more than convincing people to like us. There was a time when a president did not speak just to Americans -- he spoke to the world. People thousands of miles away would gather to listen to someone they called, without irony, "the leader of the free world." Men and women in Nazi-occupied Europe would huddle around shortwave radios to listen to President Franklin Roosevelt. Millions cheered in Berlin when President John F. Kennedy stood with them and said, "Ich bin ein Berliner." Millions of people imprisoned behind the Iron Curtain silently cheered the day President Reagan declared, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" Even if these ordinary men and women did not always agree with our policies, they looked to our president and saw a person -- and a nation -- they could trust. Today, under the current administration, this is no longer the case. At the dawn of a new century, it is vital that we win the war of ideas in the world. We need to reach out to ordinary men and women from Egypt to Indonesia and convince them, once again, that the United States is a force to be admired.
BEYOND THE "WAR ON TERROR"
There is no question that we must confront terrorist groups such as al Qaeda with the full force of our military might. As commander in chief, I will never hesitate to apply the full extent of our security apparatus to protect our vital interests, take measures to root out terrorist cells, and strike swiftly and forcefully against those who seek to harm us.
But I believe we must stay on the offensive against both terrorism and its causes. The "war on terror" approach has backfired, straining our military to the breaking point while allowing the threat of terrorism to grow. "War on terror" is a slogan designed for politics, not a strategy to make the United States safe. It is a bumper sticker, not a plan. Worst of all, the "war on terror" has failed. Instead of making the United States safer, it has spawned even more terrorism -- as we have seen so tragically in Iraq -- and left us with fewer allies.
There is no question that we are less safe today as a result of this administration's policies. The Bush administration has walked the United States right into the terrorists' trap. By framing this struggle against extremism as a war, it has reinforced the jihadists' narrative that we want to conquer the Muslim world and that there is a "clash of civilizations" pitting the West against Islam. From Guantï¿½namo to Abu Ghraib, the "war on terror" has tragically become the recruitment poster al Qaeda wanted. Instead of reengaging with the peoples of the world, we have driven too many into the terrorists' arms. In fact, defining the current struggle against radical Islamists as a war minimizes the challenge we face by suggesting that the fight against Islamist extremism can be won on the battlefield alone.
For these reasons, many generals and national security experts have criticized the president's "war on terror" approach. Retired Marine General Anthony Zinni has said that the "war on terror" is a counterproductive doctrine. So has the government of one of our closest allies; the new British prime minister, Gordon Brown, has distanced himself from the term. Admiral William Fallon -- President George W. Bush's new chief of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) -- has instructed his staff to stop saying that we are in a "long war." These leaders know that we need substance, not slogans.
Leading Republicans have echoed such views. The president's own former secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, said last March that the doctrine was one of his regrets. "It is not a war on terror," he flatly told an interviewer. Meanwhile, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani curiously seems to have forgotten that he said in March that we should abandon the "war on terror" approach because, in his words, "America is seen as a country by too many that wants to have war, or exercises its power too much, pushes its weight around too much."
Yet the politics of fear remains tempting. Some have chosen to pillory those who dare question the concept of a "war on terror" as somehow weak. But these attacks unmask the slogan for what it is: a political sledgehammer used to stifle debate and justify policies that would otherwise be utterly unacceptable.
Our enemies are taking advantage of the United States' declining popularity. According to a recent article by the former CIA official Bruce Riedel in this magazine, al Qaeda has expanded its reach not only across Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan but even in Europe. And a recent report by the National Counterterrorism Center found that al Qaeda's operational capabilities have returned to levels unseen since just before 9/11. Iran has been emboldened by the Bush administration's ineffective policies and has announced plans to expand its nuclear program. Meanwhile, other powers are benefiting, too. China is capitalizing on the United States' current unpopularity to project its own "soft power." And Russia is bullying its neighbors while openly defying the United States and Europe.
Our law enforcement, security, and intelligence professionals are to be congratulated and honored for stopping plots such as the recent conspiracy to attack John F. Kennedy International Airport, in New York City. However, we must not let our enthusiasm for these tactical victories cloud a broader view of the threat environment. In April, the State Department released a report stating that terrorism had increased 29 percent worldwide between 2005 and 2006, with most attacks occurring in Iraq and Afghanistan. We need to refocus our national security policy on the mission of protecting Americans from twenty-first-century threats rather than pursuing discredited ideological agendas. What we need is not more slogans but a comprehensive strategy to respond to terrorism and prevent it from taking root in the first place. This strategy should transcend the familiar divide between "hard power" and "soft power." Instead, we need to place "smart power" at the center of our national security policy.
NEW CENTURY, NEW CHALLENGES
Confronting the challenges of the new century will require strength, creativity, and moral leadership. The century ahead will bring new efforts by nonstate actors, ranging from terrorist groups to ethnically based local and regional movements, to redefine the boundaries of states, the jurisdiction of multilateral organizations, and the authority of international law. We will also face instability generated by weak and failing states. And we will face continuing challenges to our efforts to promote democracy. Elections alone are not enough; new democracies need to cultivate constitutionalism, strong institutions, pluralism, and a respect for a free press and the rule of law. Finally, a host of twenty-first-century developments from climate change to pandemics will likely impose additional stresses. A report issued in April by a group of 11 retired military officers, including General Gordon Sullivan, the former army chief of staff, and General Zinni, the former CENTCOM commander, described the potential of climate change to ignite a chain reaction leading to global instability. It could trigger conflicts over shrinking natural resources, weaken states through the creation of climate refugees, and hasten the spread of diseases and famine. We must act aggressively against this threat.
We should begin our reengagement with the world by bringing an end to the Iraq war. Iraq's problems are deep and dangerous, but they cannot be solved by the U.S. military. For over a year, I have argued for an immediate withdrawal of 40,000 to 50,000 U.S. combat troops from Iraq, followed by an orderly and complete withdrawal of all combat troops. Once we are out of Iraq, the United States must retain sufficient forces in the region to prevent a genocide, a regional spillover of the civil war, or the establishment of an al Qaeda safe haven. We will most likely need to retain quick-reaction forces in Kuwait and a significant naval presence in the Persian Gulf. We will also need some security capabilities in Baghdad, inside the Green Zone, to protect the U.S. embassy and U.S. personnel. Finally, we will need a diplomatic offensive to engage the rest of the world -- including Middle Eastern nations and our allies in Europe -- in working to secure Iraq's future. All of these measures will finally allow us to close this terrible chapter and move on to the broader challenges of the new century.
We must confront these challenges not only through our military but also through diplomacy. Few areas deserve the United States' moral leadership more urgently than Sudan. The African Union peacekeeping troops stationed in Darfur have acted bravely in a difficult situation. But these 7,000 troops have been unable to protect civilians or enforce a 2004 cease-fire, and security has deteriorated dramatically. I believe President Bush should convene an emergency meeting of NATO's leadership to provide assistance to a UN deployment of 3,000 troops, backed by logistical, operational, and financial support. NATO must establish a no-fly zone over the region to cut off supplies to the brutal Janjaweed militias and end the Sudanese government's bombing of civilians in Darfur. NATO member states should also impose a new round of multilateral sanctions on the Sudanese government and freeze the foreign assets of individuals complicit in the genocide. The United States must make a decisive new commitment to employ the extraordinary assets of the U.S. military -- our airlift capabilities, logistical support, and intelligence systems -- to assist UN and African Union peacekeeping efforts in Darfur. And we must continue to pressure other countries with influence in the region, such as China, to meet their own responsibilities to help end this conflict.
We also need to renew our commitment to engagement and diplomacy in order to solve problems before they occur, rather than scrambling to deal with crises after they have erupted. With engagement comes far greater knowledge and the potential for progress and even trust. Presidents Kennedy and Reagan talked with Soviet leaders at the height of the Cold War, in both cases turning back major threats to our national security. We need to do the same with Iranian and North Korean leaders.
Iran presents a complicated challenge for the United States. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a dangerous radical and a strong supporter of Hezbollah and Hamas. He has said repeatedly that Israel should be "wiped off the map" and last December sponsored a conference for Holocaust deniers in Tehran. Iran cannot be allowed to possess nuclear weapons.
Unfortunately, the situation in Iran has only worsened under this administration. With a threat so serious, no U.S. president should take any option off the table -- diplomacy, sanctions, engagement, or even military force. When we say something is unacceptable, however, we must mean it, and that requires developing a strategy that delivers results, not just rhetoric. Instead of saber rattling about military action, we should employ an effective combination of carrots and sticks. For example, right now we must do everything we can to isolate Iran's leader from the moderate forces within the country. We need to contain Iran's nuclear ambitions through diplomatic measures that will, over time, force Iran to finally understand that the international community will not allow it to possess nuclear weapons. Every major U.S. ally agrees that the advent of a nuclear Iran would be a threat to global security. We should continue to work with other great powers to offer Tehran economic incentives for good behavior. At the same time, we must use much more serious economic sanctions to deter Ahmadinejad's government when it refuses to cooperate. To do this, we will have to deal with Iran directly. Such diplomacy is not a gift, nor is it a concession. The current administration recently managed to have one single-issue meeting with Iran to discuss Iraq. It simply makes no sense for the administration to engage Iran on this subject alone and avoid one as consequential as nuclear proliferation.
In North Korea, the recent agreement to shut down the Yongbyon nuclear reactor in exchange for the release of frozen assets is encouraging -- though long overdue. It is a sign that the carrots-and-sticks approach can work. Pyongyang's words, however, are not enough. We must require a commitment to future action. We must engage the North Korean government directly, through the six-party framework, placing economic and political incentives on the table in exchange for the verified, complete elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons capabilities.
Indeed, new leadership is needed for a broader, more systematic approach to confronting the most dangerous threat of the new century: the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). In working toward the goal of a nuclear-free world, the United States must lead the effort to strengthen the international nonproliferation institutions, not cast them aside. The rules and institutions we rely on to stymie and isolate bad actors, while providing strong leverage and instruments for measuring progress, are increasingly riddled with loopholes and gaps. We should create a new Global Nuclear Compact to bolster the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which would support peaceful nuclear programs, improve security for existing stocks of nuclear materials, and ensure more frequent verification that materials are not being diverted and nuclear facilities are not being misused. We must also halt the trade of the most dangerous technologies by the most dangerous states and increase the amount of money we spend on cooperative threat-reduction programs in the former Soviet republics. Finally, we should strengthen our nation's capacity to identify and respond to WMD threats by reforming the ways the U.S. government collects and analyzes intelligence and by giving the intelligence community the resources it needs.
The tsunami that hit Southeast Asia in 2004, the troubled status of the government in Afghanistan, and the need for a functioning infrastructure in Iraq all have something in common: they present a new set of challenges for which the United States will need to prepare. In the coming years, we will most likely see an increasing need to stabilize weak and failing states and provide humanitarian assistance to the victims of disasters across the world.
These missions are demanding, dangerous, and expensive. They require a wide range of resources and sources of knowledge, from experts in water purification to medical technicians, judges to corrections officers, bankers to stock-market analysts. In most cases, the help of thousands of such specialists is required. Yet for years, the U.S. government has not been properly prepared for these kinds of missions. As a result, when these situations arise, the government turns repeatedly to the only existing institution with the required logistical capabilities and a sufficiently broad range of skills: the military. But the military lacks many of the resources that are required to conduct these missions successfully. To resolve these problems, I will establish a Marshall Corps during my first year in office, named for our greatest secretary of state, General George Marshall. The Marshall Corps, patterned after the military reserves, will consist of at least 10,000 civilian experts who could be deployed abroad to serve in reconstruction, stabilization, and humanitarian missions. They will be on the frontline in the United States' reengagement with the world.
REENGAGING WITH THE WORLD'S MAJOR POWERS
In the new century, a number of emerging or already major powers will pose new challenges to the United States. We will have to continue integrating rising powers into a peaceful international system by convincing them that they can both benefit from and contribute to the system's strength. This means adapting our most important international leadership organizations, such as the G-8, to include these new major players. We must also strive to maintain our strong partnerships with longtime allies, including the United Kingdom, Japan, and the transforming European Union, as well as work to rebuild the long-neglected relationships with our neighbors throughout Latin America. Finally, we must stand by our ally and partner Israel, ensuring its security while doing everything in our power to bring peace and stability to the region.
China, Russia, and India, among others, will test U.S. leadership. China is developing a unique political system and economy with both authoritarian and free-market elements. The nation is economically important to the United States, heavily invested in our Treasury bonds, and a significant trading partner. But China is also a growing economic competitor, particularly in its dealings with nations possessing rich energy resources, which can lead to conflicting perspectives on security issues. China's approach to Iran and Sudan are prime examples. In sum, the U.S.-Chinese relationship is a delicate one, which has not been well managed by the current administration. In the coming years, China's influence and importance will only continue to grow. On issues such as trade, climate change, and human rights, our overarching goal must be to get China to commit to the rules that govern the conduct of nations.
Russia presents a very different challenge. The situation in Russia is deteriorating, and democracy is on the wane. President Vladimir Putin has also initiated a worrisome pattern of bellicose rhetoric against the United States and has threatened to withdraw from arms control treaties. The presidential transition scheduled for next year will be a critical test of Russia's commitment to democracy and the rule of law. Despite these concerns, Russia also offers substantial opportunities for the United States, both as an economic partner and as a stabilizing influence over other, more overtly hostile nations, such as Iran. Last year, in a Council on Foreign Relations task force I co-led with former Republican Congressman Jack Kemp, we concluded that the United States ought to initiate a new era of selective cooperation with Russia on particular issues, such as Iran, energy, and nuclear nonproliferation, while preserving our ability to disagree and push for change on other issues, such as our concerns about increasing authoritarianism in Russia and potential Russian-Chinese cooperation. Our most important goal is to draw Russia into the Western political mainstream through continued engagement and, when necessary, diplomatic and economic pressure.
I have seen for myself that India is one of the world's richest treasures. With its great history, tremendous people, and rich culture, India has truly overwhelming potential. The United States is fortunate to count India as a partner, and we must cultivate our friendship to advance our common values. India is a country that knows both the positive and the negative aspects of our globalized world. It has achieved remarkable economic growth, benefiting from access to technology and information. Yet the nation also grapples with threats that refuse to respect borders -- the AIDS pandemic, extreme poverty, and terrorists, such as those who struck New Delhi late in 2005. The United States and India are natural allies, and the U.S.-Indian strategic partnership will help shape the twenty-first century. We must therefore strengthen our relationship using both national and international tools: reforming the UN so that there is a place for India on the Security Council and working with India to help it achieve a credible and transparent plan to permanently separate its civilian and military nuclear programs. The United States could then more easily work with India to address its energy needs -- another step that would deepen the U.S.-Indian friendship.
BUILDING A STRONG DEFENSE
The past few years have brought the biggest crisis in civil-military relations in a generation. The mismanagement of the military has been so severe that many of our most decorated retired officers are speaking out. I will reengage with our military through a basic doctrine of national security management that has been demolished by the current administration: military professionals will have primary responsibility in matters of tactics and operations, while civilian leaders will have authority over political decisions and in all matters of broad strategy.
The force structure of our military should match its missions. We must be very clear about the military's purpose. The U.S. armed forces have three important missions: deterring or responding to those who wish to do us harm, ensuring that the problems of weak and failing states do not create dangers for the United States, and maintaining our strategic advantage over major competitor states, in part so that they choose to cooperate with us, rather than challenge our interests militarily.
The current administration's mismanagement of the military has gone far beyond these missions, leading to a very dangerous situation for our troops, their families, and our nation. We are sending some troops back to Iraq with less than a year's rest. Military leaders are warning about "breaking" the force. It is tempting for politicians to respond to this situation by trying to outbid one another on the number of troops they would add to the military. Some have fallen right in line behind President Bush's recent proposal to add 92,000 troops between now and 2012, giving little rationale for exactly why we need this many men and women, particularly with a likely withdrawal from Iraq. But the problem of our force structure is not best dealt with by a numbers game. We must be more thoughtful about what the troops would actually be used for. Any troops we add now would take a number of years to recruit and train, and they would therefore not help us today in Iraq.
As president, I will rebalance our forces to ensure that the size and capabilities of our military match its missions. We must have enough troops to rebuild from the debacle in Iraq, to bolster deterrence, to decrease our heavy reliance on National Guard and Reserve members in overseas missions, to provide additional support for our brave troops fighting in Afghanistan, and to deploy to other trouble spots when necessary. I will double the budget for recruitment and raise the standards for the recruitment pool so that we can reduce our reliance on felony waivers and other exceptions. In addition, I will increase our investment in the maintenance of our equipment for the safety of our troops.
Our all-volunteer military is the best in the world, and its servicemen and servicewomen have done everything their leaders have asked them to do -- and more. They and their families have stayed strong through an increasing number of deployments and the administration's unconscionable decision to extend tours from 12 to 15 months -- and in the future, perhaps longer. U.S. soldiers, sailors, air force personnel, and marines and their families are the ones suffering the most from the administration's failures, including poor planning, equipment shortages, and inadequate training.
As commander in chief, I will do everything I can to repair the sacred contract with our active-duty personnel and veterans. Central to this sacred contract is a simple and solemn pledge to every man and woman who risks his or her life for our country: we will take care of you as you have taken care of us. My administration will guarantee quality health care for our servicemen and servicewomen and every generation of veterans, provide families with the support they need to withstand the strain of separations, and ensure that returning troops have access to the education and opportunities necessary to succeed in civilian life.
The military budget itself also needs substantial reform. Today, dozens of agencies perform overlapping tasks. There is no central, overall accounting of all the security activities performed by all the relevant agencies. There are nuclear nonproliferation programs in the Defense, State, and Energy Departments and more than 15 different security assistance programs running out of both the State Department and the Pentagon. As president, I will create a national security budget that will include all security programs at the Pentagon and the Department of Energy, as well as our homeland security, intelligence, and foreign affairs agencies. The national security budget will eliminate wasteful and counterproductive overlaps and gather all of our resources behind a unified strategy.
RESTORING AMERICA'S MORAL LEADERSHIP
When it comes to reengaging with the world, there is no task more critical than restoring our moral leadership. We must begin to create a world in which the despair that breeds radical terrorism is overwhelmed by the hope that comes with universal education, democracy, and economic opportunity. By exercising this sort of leadership, we can transform a generation of potential enemies into a generation of friends.
We can begin by leading the fight to eradicate global poverty and provide universal primary education. At first glance, these areas might not seem directly related to our self-interest. But they are in fact intimately tied to our present and future national security. Unsurprisingly, we see radicalism rising today in unstable countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and, of course, Iraq and Afghanistan. This illuminates the importance of foreign and national security policies that seek to prevent terrorism, not just respond to it.
Education is one of the most critical ways we can reverse the effects of poverty. According to UNICEF (the United Nations Children's Fund), the mortality rate for children under five years of age decreases by half if their mothers have received a primary school education. As president, I will increase our funding for global primary education sixfold, with a $3 billion annual effort to educate poor children in countries with a history of violent extremism. Through the U.S. Agency for International Development and multilateral aid organizations, I will also pursue reform of the school systems in developing countries, working to eliminate school fees and required expenses for books and uniforms, which effectively bar millions of children from enrolling; investing in teacher education, classroom expansion, and teaching materials; and helping to provide safe and hygienic facilities for all students. Finally, as president, I will lead an effort to increase opportunity for millions of people by adding $750 million annually for microcredit programs.
Clean water and sanitation are also necessary to improve health, education, and economic prosperity. Women and children bear the burden of poverty and disease in the developing world. Women in the poorest countries have a ten percent chance of dying during childbirth. More than ten million children die each year from preventable diseases. Developing countries suffer enormously from the top three killer diseases: AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
As president, I will concentrate on reversing the spread of these three deadly diseases by guaranteeing universal access to preventive drugs and treatment by 2010. I will also substantially increase U.S. funding for clean-water programs. Finally, I will direct U.S. agencies to lead an international effort to dramatically increase preventive care, beginning with increased vaccinations and the provision of sterile equipment and basic medications.
Despite the urgency of these programs, the same redundancy that plagues our national security activities exists in our foreign assistance programs. Over 50 separate U.S. government entities are currently involved in the delivery of foreign aid. We need to return to President Kennedy's vision. He said in 1961 that the American system was fragmented, awkward, and slow and that improvement was necessary because "the nation's interest and the cause of political freedom require it." Kennedy reformed the American foreign-aid system, and we need a similar fundamental restructuring today. As president, I will create a new cabinet-level position to coordinate global development policies across the government. I will also replace Kennedy's Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 with a Global Development Act to modernize and consolidate development assistance, and I will ask Congress to improve its oversight and revamp its committee structure so that it can be a more effective partner in this effort. With measures like these, we can reclaim our historic role as a moral leader of the world while at the same time making the world safer and more secure for the United States.