In the long term, a nation’s strength does not come from its armies. America spends as much on weaponry as the next nine nations combined, yet the country has grown weaker, not stronger, over the last 30 years. Even as its military technology has reigned supreme, America has been hollowing out from the inside. We cannot be a strong or secure nation when our infrastructure, industry, society, and economy are infirm.
A high priority of a Kennedy administration will be to make America strong again. When a body is sick, it withdraws its energy from the extremities in order to nourish the vital organs. It is time to end the imperial project and attend to all that has been neglected: the crumbling cities, the antiquated railways, the failing water systems, the decaying infrastructure, the ailing economy. Annual defense-related spending is close to one trillion dollars. We maintain 800 military bases around the world. The peace dividend that was supposed to come after the Berlin Wall fell was never redeemed. Now we have another chance.
As President, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. will start the process of unwinding empire. We will bring the troops home. We will stop racking up unpayable debt to fight one war after another. The military will return to its proper role of defending our country. We will end the proxy wars, bombing campaigns, covert operations, coups, paramilitaries, and everything else that has become so normal most people don’t know it’s happening. But it is happening, a constant drain on our strength. It’s time to come home and restore this country.
In Ukraine, the most important priority is to end the suffering of the Ukrainian people, victims of a brutal Russian invasion, and also victims of American geopolitical machinations going back at least to 2014. We must first get clear: Is our mission to help the brave Ukrainians defend their sovereignty? Or is it to use Ukraine as a pawn to weaken Russia? Robert F. Kennedy will choose the first. He will find a diplomatic solution that brings peace to Ukraine and brings our resources back where they belong. We will offer to withdraw our troops and nuclear-capable missiles from Russia's borders. Russia will withdraw its troops from Ukraine and guarantee its freedom and independence. UN peacekeepers will guarantee peace to the Russian-speaking eastern regions. We will put an end to this war. We will put an end to the suffering of the Ukranian people. That will be the start of a broader program of demilitarization of all countries.
We have to stop seeing the world in terms of enemies and adversaries. As John Quincy Adams wrote, “Americans go not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” Robert F. Kennedy will revive a lost thread of American foreign policy thinking, the one championed by his uncle, John F. Kennedy who, over his 1000 days in office, had become a firm anti-imperialist. He wanted to exit Vietnam. He defied the Joint Chiefs of Staff and refused to bomb Cuba, thus saving us from nuclear Armageddon. He wanted to reverse the imperialistic policies of Truman and Eisenhower, rein in the CIA, and support freedom movements around the world. He wanted to revive Roosevelt’s impulse to dissolve the British empire rather than take it over.
John F. Kennedy’s vision was tragically cut short by an assassin’s bullet. But now we have another chance. The country is ailing, yes, but underneath there is vitality still. America is a land rich in resources, creativity, and intelligence. We just need to get serious about healing our society, to become strong again from the inside.
America was once an inspiration to the world, a beacon of freedom and democracy. Our priority will be nothing less than to restore our moral leadership. We will lead by example. When a warlike imperial nation disarms of its own accord, it sets a template for peace everywhere. It is not too late for us to voluntarily let go of empire and serve peace instead, as a strong and healthy nation.