Eighteen years ago, our nation was attacked by al-Qaeda.
Thousands were killed, and today, we honor their memory. Those just getting to work that day. Children getting dropped off at daycare. The first responders who rushed into the crumbling towers. We will never forget the heroes who sacrificed their lives to save others. And we must always honor the memory of those lost on that terrible day.
After September 11, President Bush stood in the rubble of the Twin Towers and said we would never forget, we would seek out and destroy those responsible, his rallying cry:
“Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”
He declared that we would be at war with these terrorists.
Moved by this rallying cry, like thousands of other patriots, I made the decision to use my life to defend the safety, security, and freedom of the American people, to put on the uniform of our country. I was determined to defeat and destroy the evil that visited us on September 11th.
But our leaders failed us. They used the attack on 9/11 to set in motion a series of disastrous regime change wars, toppling dictators, and engaged in nation-building overseas.
We should have focused our attention and the full power of our resources on defeating al-Qaeda. But we didn’t. Instead, we have spent our precious time, money, and lives overthrowing authoritarian governments and nation-building. We toppled Iraq strongman Saddam Hussein; Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi; and are still trying to topple Syria’s Bashar al-Assad — yet none of these dictators had anything to do with the 9/11 attack or posed any threat to the United States.
These regime change wars have cost us dearly. Countless precious lives lost, families destroyed, trillions of dollars, unimaginable death, pain and suffering in the Middle East. They have created a refugee crisis, and strengthened al-Qaeda — all of which have undermined our national security.
Now, al-Qaeda and its offshoots and affiliates like ISIS, al-Shabab, HTS, and al-Nusra, are stronger and more dangerous than they were on 9/11. Their strength is not in spite of our best efforts and policies, but rather, because of the shortsighted regime change wars we have undertaken.
It’s time to stop this insanity.
Tens of thousands of my brothers and sisters who answered our nation’s call to service have lost their lives and limbs in these wars. As president, I will honor their memory and the thousands we lost on 9/11 by changing course.
As President, I will end our foolish counterproductive foreign policy of carrying out regime change wars and nation-building. I will work to end the new Cold War and arms race between the United States, Russia, and China — a Cold War which will inevitably result in nuclear annihilation. I will focus our country’s resources on keeping Americans safe and rebuilding our own nation right here at home.
Regime change wars are wars of choice.
The war against ISIS, al-Qaeda, and their affiliates is not a war of choice — it’s a war they started and will continue to wage against us. None of us want war. We all want peace. But, unfortunately, it is not possible for us to unilaterally end this war. Either we defeat them, including their ideology, or they will defeat us. But united, we can never be defeated. So, let us come together in the common spirit of love for our country and for each other, to defend our nation, our freedom, our future.
For the love of our country,