The Candidates on Defense

Feb. 1, 2000

What follows are excerpts from recent campaign speeches and statements. The candidates–Democrats Bill Bradley and Albert Gore and Republicans George W. Bush and John McCain–are presented in alphabetical order. Some have discussed defense and foreign affairs more extensively than others, a fact reflected in the length of comments quoted herein. The key to the sources can be found at the end of this column.

Bill Bradley

The military threat

“There’s a disturbing paradox. We are more powerful than ever before, yet we are also more vulnerable to a variety of threats. The great risk of nuclear holocaust with the Soviet Union has receded, but there are a multitude of smaller threats, from a troublemaking dictatorship like Iraq to the poorly safeguarded nuclear warheads in Russia, to the increasingly dangerous situation on the Korean peninsula, to transnational terrorists who view the US as their No. 1 enemy.” [1]

Defense spending

“I don’t think we need to increase the defense budget as much as the President [Bill Clinton] has proposed, particularly if we are able to eliminate those unnecessary weapons systems [the military doesn’t want].” [2]

Pork-barrel projects

“First, we must re-examine our military policies and objectives in light of the fact that we live in a post-Cold War era. That will help us define our defense needs. We must also be careful about funding weapons systems that powerful Congressional sources want but the military doesn’t.” [2]

America’s real interests

“For 50 years after the end of World War II and until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, we were sure about one thing: We knew where we stood on foreign policy. We were against the Soviet Union and all that it stood for. We were against communism, Marxist-Leninism, and totalitarianism and repression of freedom, and we were right to be. For 50 years in America we always knew what we were against, but the challenge today is a little different. We need to figure out what we are for.” [1]

“Too often these days, our policies, even our military, are designed for a world that no longer exists.” [1]

“America is the sole superpower in the world today. That means we have to conduct ourselves in a way that is commensurate with our values. We have to be sure that we have a strong international economy that takes more and more people to higher ground. I think our challenge for the country is to get more middle-class people in the world. And if we had more middle-class people in the world, they’d be buying more of our exports. Achieving that means prudent management of international economic policy as well as our domestic economy. The key to our foreign policy is to have the right policy and the right relationship with five countries in the world-that is, Mexico, Japan, China, Russia, and Germany. If we get those big questions right, then the world is going to be a safer place.” [2]

“The next President has … to try to create a comprehensive framework for peace, security, and prosperity that’s not only in the interests of America but everyone, everywhere. … This is one of the big and essential jobs of the next President and it’s one we must do well.” [1]

Use of military power

“I don’t think the United States can be the policeman to the world. I don’t think we have the resources nor the wisdom. I think we cannot give an open-ended humanitarian commitment to the world. It has to be made on a case-by-case basis. I also believe that if you’re talking about the 32 ethnic wars that are in the world, that it is much better to deal with those situations in a multilateral context, and that means more and more authority through the UN being used. I believe that if we did more of that, we’d have better results. I think that the United States can get spread very thin over a wide territory in the world and not have the impact that we seek to have in the places that we do get involved.” [1]

“The criteria I use is it would have to be in the national interest for that involvement to take place, and it would have to be consistent with our values as a country. In some places the national interest is clear: Iraq, 1991. In some places the values seem clear: genocide in Kosovo or in Bosnia. But the remedies often come too late, and the key is to get multilateral efforts to intervene earlier, before things reach the point where there is only a military option, and that would require partners in the world to do this-you require alliances, you require international organizations to do that.” [1]

“I made the call [to oppose Operation Desert Storm in 1991] as I saw it at the time. I was not against the use of force. The question was whether we should use force at that time or continue sanctions. I voted to continue sanctions. And my sense is if they hadn’t worked, there would have been a vote before us later and I would have voted for it. … I think that-my judgment is that it turned out-that it worked well, but I made the call, and I’ll stand by that call.” [3]

Dealing with Russia

“We need to move at a very direct pace to engage Russia in a further negotiation on reduction of strategic weaponry. As you know, the START II agreement has been ratified by the United States, not by Russia. It’s still waiting. I would be in favor of moving beyond START II, even in the absence of ratification by Russia, to a negotiation on START III, with the aim of reducing weaponry to about between 1,000 and 2,000 warheads. I think that that would be a significant reduction.” [1]

“I have thought that [in] our policy toward Russia at the end of the Cold War, we missed a real opportunity. … At that time, Russians came to the United States and were seeking advice, counsel, suggestions, ideas, about the new day that was dawning. And there I thought we, at those moments, acted more as missionaries than we did acting in our national interest in those early years. For example, instead of immediately pushing for much lower strategic weaponry, instead of pushing for a much lower level of destruction of nuclear weapons, instead of pushing for making sure that Russian scientists were happy in their science cities and not up for export to our countries, instead of replacing Chernobyl-style nuclear reactors, instead of attempting to deal with what was clearly in our national interests, we became missionaries for a particular kind of international economics. And I think that the result has been that the economy has sputtered, we have not made as much progress as we could have on these issues, and we were left with a situation in Russia where, in the best of worlds, it seems we’re irrelevant to the average Russian, in the worst of worlds we are blamed for their economic circumstance, and our relationship with the Russian people has become, instead, our relation with the Yeltsin government.” [1]

“We should seek to reduce the nuclear stockpile of Russia in negotiations in START III, on much higher funding of attempts to secure the scientists so they are not export material. I think that we should try to speak to the Russian people. I think on the economy we should reward results, not rhetoric. Promises aren’t good enough; progress and the rule of law and other things are absolutely critical. And I think that if we engaged Russia in a longer-term discussion over their strategic view of the world, that would also be helpful, and I would think that the more military-to-military contacts that we could have, the stronger and better that dialogue would be.” [1]

“Recent allegations of Russian money laundering by American banks are disturbing. … Although I am drawing no conclusions on these current developments, I have argued since the early 1990s that American assistance and lending policies toward Russia have been misdirected and ineffective.” [2]

“Russia is struggling with its transformation to an open, free-market nation. Several factors, including shortsighted US policy, have contributed to this struggle. Our assistance and lending policies have done very little to further our strategic goals, the needs of the Russian people, or the cause of Russian reform. Billions of dollars have been promised to Russians, but far too much money has been siphoned off by untrustworthy Russian ‘capitalists.’ ” [2]

“As we examine these allegations, we should consider the impact of such policies on our overall relationship with Russia and their noticeable effect on individual Russians.” [2]

“The United States has a great deal at stake in Russia’s future, and our Russia policy has failed to properly address such issues as control of nuclear weapons, environmental degradation, ethnic disputes, and foreign debt. Each can have a major impact on the United States. Determining how to ensure American interests and assist Russia’s ongoing transformations will be a critical task for the next Administration.” [2]

Dealing with allies

“I have always supported Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. As you know, the status in Jerusalem is the last item on the negotiations. The last seems to be the most contentious, and I think that ought to be worked out among the negotiating parties themselves.” [1]

“I think that hopefully we have learned something from our previous experiences in Latin America, not the least of which was El Salvador, as you pointed out, where the provision of assistance without any conditions leads sometimes to the misuse of that assistance. So I think if we do provide assistance [to the military of Colombia], we should have strong checks on human rights and that we should be able to enforce those and that the recipient should be accountable on how they use the funds.” [1]

“I would make the point that the military option in terms of combating drugs in the United States is another example of attempting to control supply. I believe that the answer ultimately rests in the United States and that is controlling demand for drugs. The reason drugs arrive is because there’s a demand. And in a country as big as ours, with as much coastline as ours, with as much open space as ours, with as long a border as we have with Mexico, I think the idea of putting up a wall around the country is not going to succeed in preventing drugs from coming in if there is a strong demand for those drugs.” [1]

Conduct of foreign policy

“A President has a singular role when it comes to foreign policy, where only he can lead. The next President must be able to help America and all Americans navigate in this new world. … That in itself won’t be easy. A President also has some very basic and fundamental things that he must always manage. You might call it the President’s job description. He must first protect our national security, maintain our leadership in the world, and talk honestly with the American people. That is always the President’s job.” [1]

“The next President must have a few principles to guide him to manage these new threats and new opportunities. He must understand how to protect our security in response to our growing interconnectedness. He must have a policy countering small threats so they don’t grow into larger ones. He must maintain a strategic stability in the world that prevents the start of a new and deadly arms race around the world. He must gear our policies to the world as it is, not the Cold War world that no longer exists. And finally, he must understand our deep American attachment to human rights and that our values and our interests are very often one and the same.” [1]

“Once in America, there was a consensus in Washington about foreign policy. Men and women of good will in both parties joined together to do what was in America’s best interests. There was an old saying that political division stopped at the water’s edge. Sadly, that consensus has vanished. Foreign policy has become more a political football or is made through polling or focus groups to score domestic political points. I deplore that, and one of the things I will try to restore if I become President of the United States is a bipartisan foreign policy consensus.” [1]

George W. Bush

The military threat

“This is still a world of terror and missiles and madmen. … I will rebuild our military power-because a dangerous world still requires a sharpened sword.” [1]

“American defense … must be the first focus of a President, because it is his first duty to the Constitution. Even in this time of pride and promise, America has determined enemies, who hate our values and resent our success–terrorists and crime syndicates and drug cartels and unbalanced dictators. The empire has passed, but evil remains.” [4]

Missile defense/Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty

“I will move quickly to defend our people and our allies against missiles and blackmail.” [1]

“My … goal is to build America’s defenses on the troubled frontiers of technology and terror. The protection of America itself will assume a high priority in a new century. Once a strategic afterthought, homeland defense has become an urgent duty.” [2]

“At the earliest possible date, my Administration will deploy anti-ballistic missile systems, both theater and national, to guard against attack and blackmail. To make this possible, we will offer Russia the necessary amendments to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty–an artifact of Cold War confrontation. Both sides know that we live in a different world from 1972, when that treaty was signed. If Russia refuses the changes we propose, we will give prompt notice, under the provisions of the treaty, that we can no longer be a party to it. I will have a solemn obligation to protect the American people and our allies, not to protect arms control agreements signed almost 30 years ago.” [2]

“We will still, however, need missile defense systems–both theater and national. If I am commander in chief, we will develop and deploy them.” [4]

Military reform

“[An opportunity] is created by a revolution in the technology of war. Power is increasingly defined not by mass or size but by mobility and swiftness. Influence is measured in information, safety is gained in stealth, and force is projected on the long arc of precision guided weapons. This revolution perfectly matches the strengths of our country–the skill of our people and the superiority of our technology.” [2]

“Our military is still organized more for Cold War threats than for the challenges of a new century-for industrial age operations, rather than for information age battles. There is almost no relationship between our budget priorities and a strategic vision. The last seven years have been wasted in inertia and idle talk. Now we must shape the future with new concepts, new strategies, new resolve.” [2]

“As President, I will begin an immediate, comprehensive review of our military-the structure of its forces, the state of its strategy, the priorities of its procurement-conducted by a leadership team under the Secretary of Defense. I will give the Secretary a broad mandate-to challenge the status quo and envision a new architecture of American defense for decades to come. We will modernize some existing weapons and equipment, necessary for current tasks. But our relative peace allows us to do this selectively. The real goal is to move beyond marginal improvements–to replace existing programs with new technologies and strategies, to use this window of opportunity to skip a generation of technology. This will require spending more-and spending more wisely.” [2]

“On land, our heavy forces must be lighter. Our light forces must be more lethal. All must be easier to deploy. And these forces must be organized in smaller, more agile formations, rather than cumbersome divisions.” [2]

“On the seas, we need to pursue promising ideas like the arsenal ship–a stealthy ship packed with long-range missiles to destroy targets from great distances.” [2]

“In the air, we must be able to strike from across the world with pinpoint accuracy–with long-range aircraft and perhaps with unmanned systems.” [2]

“In space, we must be able to protect our network of satellites, essential to the flow of our commerce and the defense of our country.” [2]

“When our comprehensive review is complete, I will expect the military’s budget priorities to match our strategic vision-not the particular visions of the services, but a joint vision for change. I will earmark at least 20 percent of the procurement budget for acquisition programs that propel America generations ahead in military technology. And I will direct the Secretary of Defense to allocate these funds to the services that prove most effective in developing new programs that do so. I intend to force new thinking and hard choices.” [2]

“The transformation of our military will require a new and greater emphasis on Research and Development. So I will also commit an additional $20 billion to defense R&D between the time I take office and 2006.” [2]

Defense spending

“Not since the years before Pearl Harbor has our investment in national defense been so low as a percentage of GNP.” [2]

Pork-barrel projects

“To the Congress I say: Join me in creating a new strategic vision for our military–a set of goals that will take precedence over the narrow interests of states and regions. I will reach out to reform-minded members of Congress, particularly to overturn laws and regulations that discourage outsourcing and undermine efficiency. … And once a new strategy is clear, I will confront the Congress when it uses the defense budget as a source of pork or patronage.” [2]

Commitment to veterans

“Those who want to lead America [are obligated] … to honor our commitments to veterans who have paid those costs [of war].” [2]

“The veterans health care system and the claims process need an overhauling from top to bottom. It needs to be modernized, so that claims are handled in a fair and timely fashion. Veterans need advocates in the Veterans Administration, people sympathetic to their interests instead of suspicious. If I am elected, that is the kind of veterans official I intend to appoint.” [3]

Military personnel

“Rarely has our military been so freely used. … Something has to give, and it’s giving. Resources are overstretched. Frustration is up, as families are separated and strained. Morale is down. Recruitment is more difficult. And many of our best people in the military are headed for civilian life.” [2]

“A volunteer military has only two paths. It can lower its standards to fill its ranks, or it can inspire the best and brightest to join and stay.” [2]

“Recently, after years of neglect, a significant pay raise was finally passed. My first budget will go further-adding a billion dollars in salary increases. We also will provide targeted bonuses for those with special skills. Two-thirds of military family housing units are now substandard, and they must be renovated. And we must improve the quality of training at our bases and national training centers. Shortfalls on the proving ground become disasters on the battlefield.” [2]

“We must restore the morale of our military–squandered by shrinking resources and multiplying missions–with better training, better treatment, and better pay.” [4]

Combating terrorism

“Let me be clear. Our first line of defense is a simple message: Every group or nation must know, if they sponsor such attacks, our response will be devastating.” [2]

“We will defend the American homeland by strengthening our Intelligence Community–focusing on human intelligence and the early detection of terrorist operations both here and abroad.” [2]

“And there is more to be done preparing here at home. I will put a high priority on detecting and responding to terrorism on our soil. The federal government must take this threat seriously–working closely with researchers and industry to increase surveillance and develop treatments for chemical and biological agents.” [2]

Use of military force

“Those who want to lead America [are obligated] … to use our military power wisely, remembering the costs of war.” [2]

“Let us resolve never to multiply our missions while cutting our capabilities. Let us resolve to restore a belief in American interests, American character, and American destiny. And let us resolve to keep faith with our past by being vigilant in our time.” [3]

“In the defense of our nation, a President must be a clear-eyed realist. There are limits to the smiles and scowls of diplomacy. Armies and missiles are not stopped by stiff notes of condemnation. They are held in check by strength and purpose and the promise of swift punishment.” [4]

“America must be involved in the world. But that does not mean our military is the answer to every difficult foreign policy situation–a substitute for strategy. American internationalism should not mean action without vision, activity without priority, and missions without end-an approach that squanders American will and drains American energy.” [4]

Nuclear test ban

“In the hard work of halting proliferation, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is not the answer. I’ve said that our nation should continue its moratorium on testing. Yet far more important is to constrict the supply of nuclear materials and the means to deliver them–by making this a priority with Russia and China. Our nation must cut off the demand for nuclear weapons-by addressing the security concerns of those who renounce these weapons. And our nation must diminish the evil attraction of these weapons for rogue states-by rendering them useless with missile defense. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty does nothing to gain these goals. It does not stop proliferation, especially to renegade regimes. It is not verifiable. It is not enforceable. And it would stop us from ensuring the safety and reliability of our nation’s deterrent, should the need arise. On these crucial matters, it offers only words and false hopes and high intentions–with no guarantees whatever. We can fight the spread of nuclear weapons, but we cannot wish them away with unwise treaties.” [4]


“America will not retreat from the world. On the contrary, I will replace diffuse commitments with focused ones. I will replace uncertain missions with well-defined objectives. … We must be selective in the use of our military, precisely because America has other great responsibilities that cannot be slighted or compromised.” [2]

“America’s first temptation is withdrawal-to build a proud tower of protectionism and isolation. In a world that depends on America to reconcile old rivals and balance ancient ambitions, this is the shortcut to chaos. It is an approach that abandons our allies and our ideals. The vacuum left by America’s retreat would invite challenges to our power. And the result, in the long run, would be a stagnant America and a savage world.” [4]

“International organizations can serve the cause of peace. I will never place US troops under UN command-but the UN can help in weapons inspections, peacekeeping, and humanitarian efforts. If I am President, America will pay its dues-but only if the UN’s bureaucracy is reformed and our disproportionate share of its costs is reduced.” [4]

“The lessons learned are that the United States must not retreat within our borders, that we must promote the peace. In order to promote the peace, we’ve got to have strong alliances: alliances in Europe, alliances in the Far East. In order to promote the peace, I believe we ought to be a free trading nation in a free trading world, because free trade brings markets, and markets bring hope and prosperity.” [5]

America’s real interests

“Our military … needs the rallying point of a defining mission. And that mission is to deter wars–and win wars when deterrence fails. Sending our military on vague, aimless, and endless deployments is the swift solvent of morale.” [2]

“As President, I will order an immediate review of our overseas deployments–in dozens of countries. The long-standing commitments we have made to our allies are the strong foundation of our current peace. I will keep these pledges to defend friends from aggression. The problem comes with open-ended deployments and unclear military missions. In these cases we will ask, ‘What is our goal, can it be met, and when do we leave?’ As I’ve said before, I will work hard to find political solutions that allow an orderly and timely withdrawal from places like Kosovo and Bosnia. We will encourage our allies to take a broader role. We will not be hasty. But we will not be permanent peacekeepers, dividing warring parties. This is not our strength or our calling.” [2]

“These are my priorities: An American President should work with our strong democratic allies in Europe and Asia to extend the peace. He should promote a fully democratic Western Hemisphere, bound together by free trade. He should defend America’s interests in the Persian Gulf and advance peace in the Middle East, based upon a secure Israel. He must check the contagious spread of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. He must lead toward a world that trades in freedom. And he must pursue all these goals with focus, patience, and strength. … [It is] a distinctly American internationalism. Idealism, without illusions. Confidence, without conceit. Realism, in the service of American ideals.” [4]

Dealing with China

“We must see China clearly–not through the filters of posturing and partisanship. China is rising, and that is inevitable. Here, our interests are plain: We welcome a free and prosperous China. We predict no conflict. We intend no threat. And there are areas where we must try to cooperate: preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, attaining peace on the Korean peninsula.” [4]

“The conduct of China’s government can be alarming abroad and appalling at home. Beijing has been investing its growing wealth in strategic nuclear weapons–new ballistic missiles, a blue-water navy, and a long-range air force. It is an espionage threat to our country. Meanwhile, the State Department has reported that ‘all public dissent against the party and government [has been] effectively silenced’–a tragic achievement in a nation of 1.2 billion people. China’s government is an enemy of religious freedom and a sponsor of forced abortion-policies without reason and without mercy.” [4]

“China is a competitor, not a strategic partner. We must deal with China without ill will–but without illusions. By the same token, that regime must have no illusions about American power and purpose.” [4]

“We must show American power and purpose in strong support for our Asian friends and allies-for democratic South Korea across the Yellow Sea, for democratic Japan and the Philippines across the China seas, for democratic Australia and Thailand. This means keeping our pledge to deter aggression against the Republic of Korea and strengthening security ties with Japan. This means expanding theater missile defenses among our allies.” [4]

“And this means honoring our promises to the people of Taiwan. We do not deny there is one China, but we deny the right of Beijing to impose their rule on a free people. As I’ve said before, we will help Taiwan to defend itself.” [4]

“They [Clinton Administration officials] believe in what’s called a strategic partnership. I believe in redefining the relationship to one of competitor, but I believe competitors can find common ground. I think it’s in our nation’s best interest to open up Chinese markets to Arizona farm products, to Iowa farm products, to high-tech manufactured goods. It’s in our best interest to sell to the Chinese.” [5]

“But let me make this clear to you and to the Chinese: I will enforce the Taiwan relations law, if I am the President. If the Chinese get aggressive with the Taiwanese, we’ll help them defend themselves.” [5]

Dealing with Russia

“We can hope that the new Russian Duma will ratify START II, as we have done. But this is not our most pressing challenge. The greater problem was first addressed in 1991 by Sen. [Richard] Lugar and Sen. Sam Nunn. In an act of foresight and statesmanship, they realized that existing Russian nuclear facilities were in danger of being compromised. Under the Nunn-Lugar program, security at many Russian nuclear facilities has been improved and warheads have been destroyed.” [4]

“Even so, the Energy Department warns us that our estimates of Russian nuclear stockpiles could be off by as much as 30 percent. In other words, a great deal of Russian nuclear material cannot be accounted for. The next President must press for an accurate inventory of all this material. And we must do more. I’ll ask the Congress to increase substantially our assistance to dismantle as many of Russia’s weapons as possible, as quickly as possible.” [4]

“Dealing with Russia on essential issues will be far easier if we are dealing with a democratic and free Russia. Our goal is to promote not only the appearance of democracy in Russia but the structures, spirit, and reality of democracy. This is clearly not done by focusing our aid and attention on a corrupt and favored elite. Real change in Russia-as in China–will come not from above, but from below. From a rising class of entrepreneurs and business people. From new leaders in Russia’s regions who will build a new Russian state, where power is shared, not controlled. Our assistance, investments, and loans should go directly to the Russian people, not to enrich the bank accounts of corrupt officials.” [4]

Dealing with allies

“For NATO to be strong, cohesive, and active, the President must give it consistent direction on the alliance’s purpose; on Europe’s need to invest more in defense capabilities; and, when necessary, in military conflict.” [4]

“We have partners, not satellites. Our goal is a fellowship of strong, not weak, nations. And this requires both more American consultation and more American leadership. The United States needs its European allies, as well as friends in other regions, to help us with security challenges as they arise. For our allies, sharing the enormous opportunities of Eurasia also means sharing the burdens and risks of sustaining the peace. The support of friends allows America to reserve its power and will for the vital interests we share.” [4]

Al Gore

Military spending

“We are now fighting for the first long-term, sustained increase in defense spending in a decade.” [1]

“We want our armed forces ready to deploy in any crisis. We want our forces to be the best equipped in the world well into the next century. And we want our forces to be strong enough to meet and overwhelm traditional forms of aggression, as well as newer threats such as terrorism and nuclear proliferation.” [1]

The military threat

“It is still a very dangerous world–and a strong military has to be the cornerstone of our security. … American diplomacy is a crucial foundation of our freedom and security.” [2]

Military service

“I was honored to wear my country’s uniform during the Vietnam War. … I know … what it’s like to leave home for a war zone. I don’t claim that my military experience matches in any way what others here have been through or that my skills as a soldier rival those now standing guard on the [demilitarized zone] in Korea or patrolling the streets of Kosovo. But I can and do understand what many others feel in their hearts as they leave their families to defend their country.” [2]

Military personnel

“I was honored to wear my country’s uniform during the Vietnam War. It is for this reason that my commitment to the veterans of America has always been more than a policy position. It is a personal and moral standard to bear.” [1]

“We are going to reinstate military retirement benefits that were taken away over a decade ago.” [1]

“As we strengthen Medicare, we must do more to allow veterans to take their Medicare benefits to veterans’ hospitals. We’re working to do that–and I urge you to join me in urging Congress to pass our plan into law.” [1]

“We’ve already brought health care closer to [veterans’] homes, by adding hundreds of outpatient clinics–to a total of over 600–so even more veterans get the care they need when and where they need it.” [1]

“We owe our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines a decent salary, decent living conditions, decent health care, and a secure retirement. We owe a debt to those whose service is done. And let’s be clear: We don’t give our veterans anything. You have earned it.” [2]

“If our servicemen and -women should be called on to risk their lives for the sake of our freedom and ideals, they will do so with the best training and technology the world’s richest country can put at their service.” [2]

Use of military power

“For all my public life, I have stood for a strong America-from my consistent advocacy of military forces second to none, to my vote in favor of the Gulf War in 1991.” [1]


“I will fight to maintain American leadership in the world. And I will fight against those who would wall us off from our own security and prosperity.” [2]

“It is time for America to pay its UN dues in full. … If we lose our seat at the table, we will be shut out of a crucial forum for defending our interests in the world-and for sharing the security burden with our allies.” [2]

“We need a firm commitment to foreign affairs in our budget. Right now, foreign affairs adds up to just one penny for every dollar in our federal budget.” [2]

Dealing with rogue nations

“Well, we’re going to prevent him [Saddam] from acquiring weapons of mass destruction with the sanctions, which will remain in place, with the measures to prevent the flows of technology into Iraq. And let me just say, Tim [Russert], that I want to see him removed from power. … Well, we have the sanctions in place, Tim. We would like to-we just won a vote in the United Nations two days ago to reaffirm the world community’s insistence that he abide by the UN resolutions and to get inspectors back in there.” [3]

Test ban treaty

“Our next President must resubmit the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and demand its ratification by the Senate.” [2]

Emphasis on diplomacy

“We have been rebuilding a consensus in our country for a strong national defense policy. But we also need a strong national consensus on the other great pillar of American foreign policy: waging peace through serious and sustained diplomacy. Diplomacy, together with military might, is how we are fighting the spread of nuclear weapons around the world.” [2]

“Just as we had the wisdom to emphasize diplomacy in the wake of World War II, we must have wisdom and determination to emphasize diplomacy in the wake of the Cold War.” [2]

“We must redouble our commitment to fighting terrorism through diplomacy and international cooperation.” [2]

Dealing with Russia, China

“We must engage Russia and China, not pretend we can turn our backs on them. The greatest threat to America is not the strength of Russia and China but their weakness.” [2]

“In my years in the House and in the Senate, one of the issues I worked hardest on was arms control-reducing the danger of nuclear war.” [2]

John McCain

Defense spending

“As President, I won’t ask how much security we can afford. I’ll ask how much security do we need, and I will find the resources to pay for it.” [1]

“Given our global commitments and strategy, we need to increase defense spending. Today we spend barely 3 percent of our gross domestic product on defense.” [5]

“We must spend whatever it takes-not one penny more nor one penny less. For too long we have asked our armed services to do much more with much less. It’s time to give them enough.” [5]

Pork-barrel projects

“I won’t tolerate one dime of our defense budget being wasted to re-elect shortsighted politicians who put their own ambitions before the national interest.” [1]

“Both parties in Congress have wasted scarce defense dollars on unneeded weapons systems and other pork projects, while 12,000 enlisted personnel, proud young men and women, subsist on food stamps.” [1]

“The defense budget passed by Congress this year, like every other in recent memory, was a disgrace, crammed with over $6 billion of wasteful spending unrequested by the military.” [5]

“Fully funding our defense requires that we aggressively eliminate wasteful defense spending. I have identified nearly $20 billion that could be saved.” [5]

Missile defense/Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty

“It’s time we tell our friends and adversaries alike that ballistic missile defense is now a national priority, not just another Pentagon program.” [5]

“I will withdraw from a treaty that has become a relic of the Cold War if it cannot be made relevant to our current security needs. Our Cold War pledge to remain defenseless against missile attack is the single greatest incentive for rogue state proliferation.” [5]

“In a world that is becoming more unpredictable and dangerous, the indispensable defense against rogue states and terrorists–and even against larger powers who might become reckless in their ambitions–is ballistic missile defense.” [5]

“We must defend the United States itself from ballistic missile attack.” [5]

The military threat

“Ethnic and religious hatreds, violent expressions of nationalism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them, and international terrorism now constitute the clear and present danger.” [4]

“The incumbent Administration admits ‘new age’ transnational problems into the ranks of premier threats-a status they do not merit. They deserve attention, of course, but not so much that they claim political and material resources needed to combat the most serious and near-term dangers.” [4]

“The world is still home to many tyrants, dictators, haters, and aggressors who are hostile to the interests of the United States and the rights of man.” [5]

“Information warfare, such as an attack on our private sector’s computer grids, [could] cause critical failures in vital services that we take for granted. If we do not more effectively guard our communications, including the Internet–our powerful economic engine–utilities, transportation, financial systems, and other essential services, tiny fiber-optic threads might carry viruses as incapacitating as an armed attack.” [5]

Military personnel

“Reductions in the number of military personnel and the demands of excessive deployments are overburdening our servicemen and -women to the breaking point. Time away from home and loved ones has increased, while military pay, relative to private sector compensation, has decreased. And quality health care for veterans and for active military personnel has become just another broken promise.” [5]

“Modernizing weapons systems is vitally important, but personnel issues must come first. It is the training, the preparedness, and morale of Americans in uniform that is the stout heart of our national defense. If I am the next President, I will end the days of a food-stamp Army once and for all.” [5]

“We must eliminate the gap between military pay and comparable civilian pay by raising military wages an additional 3 percent each year for three years and by eliminating federal income taxes for military personnel who are deployed overseas.” [5]

US military sufficiency

“Our military today is struggling in virtually every category that measures preparedness. … The fault … rests with political leaders, on both sides of the aisle and at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, who ask the military to do too much with too little and who misdirect scarce defense dollars to their political priorities, rather than to vital defense needs.” [5]

“In strategy, personnel, and procurement–the total package that defines America’s ability to defend itself–the United States does not have the modern force and defense posture we must have to meet the threats to America’s interests and values in the 21st century.” [5]

“It is time to end the disingenuous practice of stating that we have a two-war strategy when we are paying for only a one-war military. Either we must change our strategy–and accept the risks–or we must sufficiently fund and structure our military.” [5]

“We have neglected modernization-failing to deploy the weapons and systems needed to maintain our technological superiority and a decisive edge on the battlefield. … We must begin immediately to buy the equipment on which our future security depends.” [5]

Force readiness

“We should re-evaluate the readiness requirements of our military forces, based on two conditions: the likelihood that forces will be called upon to respond to a military crisis and the time frame in which those forces would be deployed. Forces could then be categorized in readiness tiers premised on the degree of day-to-day readiness at which they should be maintained.” [5]

“Forward deployed and crisis response forces would be maintained at the highest level of readiness. Follow-on forces necessary to mount a large-scale offensive in a theater of operations to halt an escalating crisis would be maintained at the second highest level of readiness. Conflict resolution forces that deploy late in the conflict to ensure that we have the force superiority to prevail would be maintained at the lowest level of readiness.” [5]

Military reform and change

“New threats require innovative and forward-thinking approaches to utilizing lighter, more flexible, and rapidly deployable forces. We need to support and accelerate technological improvements that help make our forces smaller, more automated, and easier to deploy.” [5]

“Our military planning focuses on maintaining the force structure that proved effective in winning the last war, while too little attention has been given to the changing and uncertain nature of future conflicts.” [5]

“We should honestly reassess the roles and missions of each of the military services, including the Guard and Reserve components. And we should eliminate forces and weapons systems that have no place in the modern, post­Cold War world.” [5]

“We must be prepared to eliminate units for which there is either no identified requirement under our national military strategy or which cannot be deployed to a theater of operations until the crisis has passed.” [5]


“There is no safe alternative to American leadership. The history of this violent century has surely taught us that.” [1]

“We are the world’s only superpower. We must accept the responsibilities along with the blessings that come with that distinction.” [1]

“Isolationism and protectionism are a fool’s errand. We should build no walls in a futile attempt to keep the world at bay. Walls are for cowards, not for us.” [2]

“It is offensive to me … to be called isolationist because we view an arms control initiative as flawed or because we believe that sound foreign policy consists of something more than arms control, foreign aid, and settling our UN arrears.” [4]

Nuclear test ban treaty

“Let’s be clear: This [Comprehensive Test Ban] Treaty was bad for the United States. The fact that it would have prevented us from ever testing the safety and reliability of our nuclear defenses was reason enough to insist that the treaty at least be reviewed and reratified every several years. Moreover, we lack the technological capability at the present time to verify compliance with a test ban. That’s another argument for delaying this treaty at least until technology catches up to the treaty’s purpose. Most absurd, is the President’s argument that countries like Iran, Iraq, and North Korea will now feel free to pursue their nuclear ambitions. When have they not felt free?” [3]

“The CTBT was a flawed arms control agreement, not a referendum on the US role in the world.” [3]

Dealing with Russia

“At fault in Russia is not the failure of free market and democratic principles but rather their corruption by weak leaders, militant nationals, and greedy profiteers. For too long, we have indulged systemic dishonesty in Russian politics and in our relationship.” [4]

“We should feel no reluctance to stand up to Russian leaders when they challenge our interests and values. We should demand action on START II. We should denounce corruption. We should reject Russian demands to dictate the size or mission of NATO and we should brook no interference at all in the means we use to defend our allies’ security and ours.” [4]

Dealing with China

“They [China’s leaders] are determined, indeed ruthless, defenders of their regime, who will do whatever is necessary, no matter how inhumane or offensive to us, to pursue their own interest.” [4]

“As President I will continue to recognize one China, but I would not accept a forced reunification with a democratic Taiwan. I do not think it useful to publicly identify the means by which we would oppose such aggression, but China must be made to understand that the use of force would be a very serious mistake in judgment, a serious mistake with grave consequences.” [4]

Dealing with rogue states

“The next President should join with those Republican and Democrat members of Congress who support providing real military aid to Iraqis committed to ending Saddam’s reign of terror.” [4]

“From the Persian Gulf to the Korean peninsula to the Balkans, rogue states are the main threat to peace and freedom, and they require a strong, comprehensive policy response–a policy of ‘rogue state rollback.’ We must use both public and private diplomacy, targeted economic measures, and military assistance to aid forces seeking freedom from rogue regimes. But we must be prepared to back up these measures with American military force when the continued existence of such rogue states threatens America’s interests and values. And, most importantly, state sponsors of terrorism must know not the specifics of our response but the certainty that it will be swift and sure.” [5]

Relations with allies

“Our [NATO] allies are currently spending too little on their own defense. They are increasingly indifferent to the serious problems inherent in developing a defense identity separate from NATO, and they persist in avoiding coming to terms with the necessity of forging a mutual defense against threats to our interests outside Europe.” [4]

“I will tend with care to our ‘special relationship’ with [Israel], our best friend and only true democracy in the Middle East. That means I will speak out forcefully and immediately when blood libels are spread about Israel by those with whom we expect Israel to make peace. That means I will participate in a Middle East peace process only in pursuit of genuine peace and not as a means to embellish my own profile as a statesman. … I will maintain a strong military presence in the Middle East and help finance Israel’s defense against missile attack and honor our commitment to their security. … As President, I will never ask Israel to sign onto any peace agreement that endangers the lives of Israelis for a false promise of peace. I will never ask them to sacrifice tangible land in exchange for intangible promises. And I will never ask them to finalize any peace accord until all the provisions of Oslo and subsequent agreements have been met.” [4]

Clinton foreign policy

“The Administration has pursued a feckless, photo-op foreign policy with little or no effort to define a coherent plan for US engagement in the world or to establish a set of strategic priorities to guide us in a post-Cold War era.” [4]

“We didn’t have to get into Kosovo. Once we stumbled into it, we had to win it, and the fact is that this Administration has conducted a feckless, photo-op foreign policy for which we will pay a very heavy price in American blood and treasure.” [6]

“Credibility is a strategic asset. The world’s only superpower must never give its word insincerely. We should never make idle threats.” [5]

America’s real interests

“American power and purpose should be marshaled to preserve our current pre-eminence even if strategic rivals and some of our more irksome allies complain. We should do what we can to prevent others from emerging as hostile military and ideological rivals to us, and we should do so with pride.” [4]

“Our core strategic interests, like our founding ideals, remain constant: protecting our homeland and hemisphere from external threats; preventing the domination of Europe by a single power; strengthening our alliances; securing access to energy resources; and sustaining stability in the Pacific Rim.” [5]

“We must never ask our troops to risk their lives for purposes not directly related to our vital national interests and values. We must not send them on missions for which we have no measure of success nor into conflicts we are not prepared to win.” [5]

Key to Selected Speeches

Bill Bradley
1 Tufts University Town Meeting, Boston 11-29-99
2 Bill Bradley on the Issues, Web site Various
3 Interview, NBC’s “Meet the Press” 12-19-99
George W. Bush
1 Announcement, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 06-12-99
2 The Citadel, Charleston, S.C. 09-23-99
3 Veterans Day Speech, Manchester, N.H. 11-10-99
4 Ronald Reagan Library, Simi Valley, Calif. 11-19-99
5 Arizona Republican Primary Debate, Phoenix 12-06-99
Al Gore
1 American Legion Convention, Anaheim, Calif. 09-08-99
2 Iowa Veterans Home, Marshalltown, Iowa 11-11-99
3 Interview, NBC’s “Meet the Press” 12-19-99
John McCain
1 Announcement Speech, Manchester, N.H. 09-27-99
2 Ronald Reagan Library, Simi Valley, Calif. 09-29-99
3 Vietnam Vets Memorial Fund, Washington 10-18-99
4 National Jewish Coalition, Unknown 12-01-99
5 Intrepid Freedom Award, New York City 12-07-99
6 Arizona Republican Primary Debate, Phoenix 12-06-99