We also need a system that doesn't simply create vast fields of opportunity for foreign investors, but creates better societies for the people who live there. The reality is that education and health care are central to improving the quality of life for citizens whether they live in Mexico, Thailand or Somalia, and the current international market prescription of low taxes and almost no social spending almost guarantees that people's quality of life will not improve. The United States needs to re-examine these prescriptions and instead fight for a balanced plan that promotes sustainable development. This is not only a matter of basic fairness, but it goes directly to the manner in which we are perceived by the rest of the world. We need to ask ourselves if we want to be seen as a nation that has furthered policies of despair and poverty or whether we want to be partners in helping empower those in developing countries.
I've spoken about communications, foreign assistance and trade as critical elements of a new foreign policy framework. But there are, and will continue to be, times when these tools cannot by themselves advance our national interest. When other levers don't work, our military plays an important role our foreign policy implementation.
First, we must strengthen our relationships with our allies who are also committed to fighting the scourge of terrorism. We must aggressively build coalitions around our shared interests and values to demonstrate to the world that the United States is not simply waging a campaign against Islam. The challenge, scope and cost, of the battle against these extremist groups is great and the international community has a clear stake in ensuring the victory of our ideas.
In this new world, our soldiers are called to a battlefield that is much different than that of the past. Smaller numbers of troops are rapidly deployed to far-flung theaters across the world. Their dominance must be measured not only in firepower, but in communications and access to information. There is no question that our military is heads and shoulders above the rest of the world, but we must continue to "transform" our forces to become a lighter, more nimble force that leverages information technology.
As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I've focused a great deal of my work on making sure we have the best and most advanced fighting force in the world. I'm proud to represent both Fort Lewis, the Army's testbed for Transformation, and McChord Air Force Base, home of some of the most technologically advanced airlift capabilities in the Air Force. We've had success, but there is more work to be done: we must develop new war-fighting technologies, update our military doctrine and transform our forces. The Bush Administration came into office purporting to be strong supporters of transformation. Unfortunately, their progress on this front has occurred in fits and starts. It is my strong hope that the White House will recommit to this crucial goal.
The operations in Afghanistan were a good example of how technology can be utilized to make our weapons more effective while reducing our soldiers' exposure to harm. Our growing inventory of new precision-guided weapons let us destroy more targets with fewer aircraft sorties. Better communications let our air and ground forces work together more effectively. The growing integration of our intelligence let our forces know where moving targets were. We were able to blend manned and unmanned aircraft into a new, more effective type of warfare.
The Pentagon must build on these successes and gain greater resolve to not only transform our warfighting capabilities, but also the bureaucracy itself. This means that the services must have the ability to procure and field weapons and technologies more quickly. Training must be revamped to use innovations like distance learning. The government cannot spend years developing new technologies when commercial products are readily available. We must expand intelligence capabilities - through more on the ground "human intelligence" but also through technology that allows for better data analysis and sharing. There are companies right here in the Puget Sound area that are leading the way toward empowering our intelligence agencies to protect their data while sharing it with those who need it. These are the types of partnerships that must be used if we are to protect our borders, prosecute the war on terrorism and prevent future attacks.
Finally, in regards to the Middle East, we must clearly support a two-state solution to the ongoing crisis in that region. Provided there is an immediate end to the suicide bombing campaign, we must be prepared to back a Palestinian state – as well as the associated aid and assistance. That is the only way we can put an end to the years of violence and suffering among Israelis and Palestinians alike. We must continue to stand by Israel, but they must be willing to stop annexing land and expanding their settlements.
Our nation is faced with a set of challenges very different from those faced by previous generations. As we adjust to better respond to the new reality, I’m confident that our values of freedom and opportunity provide the foundation on which to craft a new foreign policy framework.
The fundamentalist Islamic movement is presenting an alternate vision - based on hatred and violence - that has made gains, especially among the poorest and most disenfranchised. Much of the rest of the world - the "undecideds" if you will - are trying to determine whether or not to embrace our values and our way of life.
To win the current battle, we must address some of the shortcomings of globalization and also demonstrates that this path is highly preferable to that offered by the extremists. We must show that we are committed to ensuring that nations in the developing world are partners in the benefits of globalization.
As we undertake the process of crafting a new foreign policy, we have opportunities . We can marshal our resources and expertise to reduce poverty, improve health care and provide education to children who represent the best hope for much of the developing world.
We can establish energy independence that will lead not only to new energy technologies and an improved environment, but also a renewed commitment to a foreign policy best for our nation and truest to our values.
We can build vibrant diplomatic and military alliances that not only improve our nation’s security, but forge an international consensus for human rights, freedom and democracy.
As our country worked to contain communism and promote democracy and freedom overseas after World War II, Harry Truman realized that we had to make some fundamental changes in our own country. We could not speak with authority about democracy and freedom in the era of Jim Crow, when so many Americans were treated as second-class citizens. To achieve our foreign policy goals, we had to make changes at home. Now, to achieve what we want at home - security - we have to make changes in our foreign policy. We need to be a more positive player on the global stage, and that will require an enormous amount of commitment by both leaders and the American public. It’s vitally important, and I appreciate the opportunity today to share my vision as to how we go about this task.