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Credit…Rachel Woolf, The New York Times

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

“Military spending has become an ever-increasing drag on our nation’s vitality,” Mr. Kennedy said. one hour speech “Obsessed with the idea of ​​our nation’s strength, we tend to overlook our own growing weakness,” he said at an event Wednesday evening at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in California.

Mr. Kennedy has long been critical of U.S. military spending and defense contractors, but his speech at the Nixon Library, which focused in part on foreign policy, painted a grim picture of American decline over the past 60 years and offered a starkly different view of America’s place on the world stage.

He said the United States must acknowledge its diminished role in global affairs, focus more of the nation’s security spending on domestic programs, and prepare for a multipolar world — where other powerful nations, such as China and Russia, grow in influence and the United States is no longer the sole global superpower.

“We feel like we’re still where we were – in the world in 1991,” Mr. Kennedy said, collapse of the Soviet Union And this End of the Cold WarHe added: “We are stuck in that past. No nation, or individual, can maintain that kind of illusion only if the cost continues to rise.”

Mr. Kennedy’s pledge to aggressively reduce national security spending stands in stark contrast to the trajectory of global military spending, which has reached a 35-year high, in part due to 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 generally 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 considering raising it further.

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

Denouncing “Bush-Cheney chauvinism,” Mr. Kennedy said the United States had “drained its wealth on one military campaign after another in pursuit of global empire” and that as a result, “our nation is decaying from within,” he described as a “pandemic of chronic disease, addiction and historic economic inequality.”

Mr. Kennedy often praised President Richard Nixon for his diplomatic talks with China, saying he understood that you don’t have to intimidate America’s rivals to “force them to comply.” But he also criticized diplomatic talks with China. End of the gold standardNixon’s move as president made the currency pegged to the US dollar. Fiat currencyMr. Kennedy insisted that “printing unlimited amounts of money” was “the only way to go to war.”

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

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