Kennedy Vows to Cut Military Budget in Half

Kennedy Vows to Cut Military Budget in Half

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the independent presidential candidate, said this week that he would cut military spending by half by the end of his first term as president, and said the United States should have a reduced role in global affairs.

“Military spending is a constant drain on our nation’s vitality,” Mr. Kennedy said in an hourlong speech on Wednesday evening at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in California, adding that “obsessed with the idea of our nation’s strength, we ignore the growing infirmity at our core.”

Mr. Kennedy has long assailed American military spending and defense contractors, but his speech at the Nixon Library, which partly focused on foreign policy, painted a grim picture of American decline over the last 60 years and laid out a radically different vision of America’s place on the world stage.

He said the United States should accept a diminished role in global affairs, divert much of the nation’s security spending to domestic programs, and prepare for a multipolar world — where other powerful countries like China and Russia would have increased influence and America would not be the sole global superpower.

“We seem to think that we’re still where we were — in the same world as in 1991,” Mr. Kennedy said, referring to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. He added: “We are stuck in that past. Any nation, or for that matter any individual, can maintain an illusion like that only at an ever increasing cost.”

Mr. Kennedy’s vow to aggressively reduce national security spending stands in stark contrast to the trajectory of global military spending, which has reached a 35-year high, driven in part by Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Mr. Kennedy, as an independent, would also have few allies in Congress to help him fulfill that promise, and there has typically been strong support for military spending in Congress. The defense budget for 2025 is currently capped at about $895 billion, though Democrats and Republicans are mulling a further increase.

Mr. Kennedy, who has made his opposition to providing military aid to Ukraine a central part of his campaign platform, provided a dark narrative of recent American history to explain his position, saying that the United States had bankrupted itself in foreign “forever wars.”

Denouncing “Bush-Cheney jingoism,” Mr. Kennedy said that the United States had “poured our wealth into one military operation after another in the pursuit of global empire,” and as a result, “our nation began to decay from within,” describing “an epidemic of chronic disease, a plague of addiction and historic economic inequality.”

Mr. Kennedy at times praised President Richard Nixon for his diplomatic negotiations with China, saying that he understood that you “don’t have to intimidate” America’s rivals “into submission.” But he also denounced the ending of the gold standard, an action that Nixon took as president that converted the U.S. dollar into what is known as a fiat currency. Mr. Kennedy asserted that printing “unlimited quantities of money” by fiat “is the only way we go to war.”

“Fiat currency was invented to finance wars,” Mr. Kennedy said, adding “the wars wouldn’t have happened if the politicians had to come to us and say, ‘we want to spend $3.6 trillion to get rid of Saddam Hussein,’ ” referring to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

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