In Afghanistan, we need serious diplomacy that achieves our counterterrorism goals as we bring home our troops. Trump’s haphazard approach has repeatedly upended delicate negotiations and wasted leverage. And there cannot be any workable deal in Afghanistan as long as the U.S. and Iran are in an escalating conflict.
Second, I would refocus our efforts to prevent terrorist attacks—whether they originate at home or abroad—on intelligence, law enforcement, and international partnerships. These tools have been enormously successful in preventing attacks against the U.S. since 9/11—and more effective and less costly than occupying countries.
Third, in my administration the United States will again lead international efforts to provide the humanitarian and economic aid that is essential to stabilizing Syria, Afghanistan, and other conflict areas in the long term. Instead of this proven and cost-effective approach, the Trump administration has slashed assistance and instituted racist, draconian cuts in the number of refugees we allow into the U.S. By doing our part and leading the way, we can get the world to invest the attention and resources needed to mitigate the local conditions that lead to global threats. As part of this effort, my administration will reduce our aid to corrupt governments and focus instead on economic assistance that empowers citizens and increases human development.
Read: The U.S. gives military aid to corrupt countries all the time
Fourth, I will strengthen our alliances in Europe, Asia, and beyond as an essential pillar of our national security, updating them to address the real challenges of our time.
All these steps will require real investments in our diplomatic capabilities. That’s why I’ve proposed a plan to rebuild the State Department and appoint only highly qualified diplomats, not wealthy campaign donors, to represent our vital interests abroad.
Finally, we will use our military wisely. All three of my brothers served in the military. I know that our service members and their families are smart, tough, and resourceful. They will make any sacrifice we ask of them. But having a strong military means using it with the utmost responsibility. The job of the president is to keep Americans safe. Every day, around the world, our military is engaged in training partner forces, protecting our embassies, providing humanitarian relief, and keeping sea lanes open. But we must reassess our global posture to ensure that U.S. forces are engaged in realistic missions, and that the risks and costs of military deployments must be appropriately limited.
It is to our shame that our politicians have so often asked too much of our troops because military action feels easier—or at least easier to explain—than diplomacy. As commander in chief, I will not send our troops into harm’s way unless there is a vital national-security interest at risk, a strategy with clear and achievable objectives, and a public understanding and acceptance of the long-term costs.