We need to align our values and our actions.

The American military is both the finest fighting force in the world and the best expression of what being an American means. The U.S. Navy and Marines were among the first to join the international relief effort after the 2005 Indian Ocean tsunami. The U.S. Army liberated the concentration camps at Buchenwald.

But the distance between our men and women in uniform and the rest of the country is wide, and growing. Too many politicians clamor for dirty, endless wars that they will never serve in themselves. We salute veterans at the Super Bowl but leave thousands of vital jobs in the VA Health System unfilled. We need to stand up as Americans and demand that Washington fully fund our military hospitals and the VA system so that veterans can get the medical care they need. We can’t continue to allow such a large divide between what we say and what we do when it comes to veterans’ affairs.

We also need to align our values and our actions abroad. When the U.S. supports tyrannical regimes abroad, such as in Saudi Arabia, or arms rebels that we haven’t vetted to fight in wars that we don’t understand, such as in Syria, that erodes American moral authority. We can’t advance the cause of human rights with one hand while we prop up the world’s worst violators of those rights with the other.

The path to a safer America has to include:

  1. Ending our addiction to regime change abroad, particularly in the Middle East. We can’t “arm moderate rebels” and expect positive change to result. In fact our intervention into the Syrian Civil War only prolonged that conflict, and ensured that Bashar al-Assad would stay in power.
  2. Prioritizing American development at home. There is at least $16 billion of military and development waste in Afghanistan alone. For the same total cost, we could not only completely end homelessness in America – we could guarantee clean drinking water for literally every single person in the world.
  3. Retiring obsolete weapons systems, and killing ineffective projects. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project alone has wasted $500 billion in development costs. We can put that money to much better use.
  4. Fully staffing the Department of State. Diplomacy is cheaper than war, and has to be our first resort.