Donald Trump’s victory tour brought him to Fayetteville, North Carolina last week, where he introduced retired Marine General James Mattis to the crowd and began laying the groundwork for his defense strategy as president.
Fayetteville, North Carolina is a short drive away from Fort Bragg, which is one of the largest, if not the largest, military bases in the world, boasting a population of more than 50,000 military personnel and civilians. Trump took the opportunity to flesh out his non-interventionist policy before a largely military crowd, placing an emphasis on rooting out terror rather than interfering with foreign conflicts.
“We will stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about, that we shouldn’t be involved with,” Trump said. “Instead, our focus must be on defeating terrorism and destroying ISIS, and we will.”
The president-elect went on to discuss his plans to seek congressional approval to lift the caps placed on defense spending as a part of the sequestration. Trump campaigned on a platform that included rebuilding the U.S. military, which he believes has been stretched too thin by multiple conflicts around the globe.
“We don’t want to have a depleted military because we’re all over the place fighting in areas that we shouldn’t be fighting in. It’s not going to be depleted any longer,” he said.
Trump did not mention Russia by name, but made it clear that any nation that shares America’s interests on the global stage will be considered a friend. “Any nation that shares our goals will be our partner in this mission. We don’t forget. We want to strengthen old friendships and seek out new friendships,” he said.
Trump then explained that, although defense spending is one of his priorities, it isn’t with the intent to pursue conflict. “We will build up our military not as an act of aggression, but as an act of prevention. In short, we seek peace through strength.”
Trump then formally introduced James Mattis as his choice for secretary of defense for the first time, calling him “the right person to lead in our defense department” before asking Mattis to speak to the crowd.
“I look forward to being the civilian leader as long as Congress gives me the waiver and the Senate votes to consent,” Mattis explained over applause. Mattis would need to receive a waiver from Congress permitting him to accept the role of defense secretary, as the existing law requires that candidates be retired from active-duty military service for a minimum of seven years. Mattis retired from the Marine Corps four years ago.
“We’re going to get you that waiver,” Trump said, returning to the microphone. “If you don’t get that waiver there are going to be a lot of angry people.”
Trump then addressed the veterans and military personnel in attendance, thanking them for their service to the United States and promising to fight to end military budget cuts.
“These patriots have shed their blood to defend our country,” Trump said. “Our debt to them is eternal and everlasting…we salute their sacrifice and we salute the flag they fought to protect.”
Donald Trump concluded his speech by calling on all Americans to unify their efforts to build a better world. Protests around the nation broke out after the November 8th election, with many Democrats calling into question the electoral college system after Trump won the election despite losing the popular vote by nearly three million ballots. Accusations of Russian tampering and fake news being shared on social media have been credited for Trump’s victory by opponents, despite the president-elect’s clear stance that he won the election fairly regardless of outside interference.
“When Americans are unified, there is nothing we cannot do. Nothing. No task is too great, no dream too large, no goal beyond our reach,” Trump said at the end of his speech. “My message tonight is for all Americans from all parties, all beliefs, all walks of life; it’s a message for everyone. No matter your age, your income, your background. I’m asking you to join us in this great, great adventurous world we’re living in.”
Image courtesy of Reuters