The world is becoming increasingly turbulent and unpredictable, with threats to U.S. security and interests seemingly simultaneously arriving from multiple directions—the re-emergence of great powers like Russia and China, the growing ambitions of rogue states like North Korea and Iran, the spread of non-state groups like ISIS, and the dissolution of established states.

There is a growing skepticism, reflected in the campaign rhetoric of 2016, about the goals America’s foreign policy should advance.
Current intraparty fissures also represent not just squabbles about the means by which U.S. foreign policy should be conducted, but also larger strategic issues about the role the United States should play in the world in the 21st century and the benefits and costs of such global engagement.

Policy Priority: Build the Force for the Future

The foundation of our nation’s strength and prosperity is the men and women who volunteer to serve both in and out of uniform. However, our military was designed to fight the wars of the past, not the evolving threats we face now, or the types of conflicts that may arise in the future. We must build the future force by recruiting America’s best and brightest and overhauling the military’s archaic career paths.

  • Replace the Budget Control Act with strategically driven, bipartisan, and predictable defense appropriations. Erratic continuing resolutions combined with the annual threat of a return to sequester-level funding makes it difficult for the military to plan for a challenging security environment.
  • Reform current military recruiting and retention practices by creating new, more flexible career paths, to ensure that the military can appeal to those with the skills and talent needed to address emerging threats like cyberspace and irregular warfare.
  • Align military service more closely with the expectations of today’s American families by re-examining the military necessity of long-standing practices like frequent relocations, one-size-fits-all career paths, and unpredictable extended family separations.

Policy Priority: Reset Key Mideast Relations

With terrorist groups spreading throughout the Middle East; with erstwhile partners like Turkey growingly increasing unstable; and with Iran fueling civil wars in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, core U.S. objectives in the region—eliminating terrorism, preventing the region from falling under the control of hostile powers, securing energy access and protecting allies—seem increasingly out of reach. Thus, securing U.S. interests will require rebuilding a functioning partnership with Turkey and limiting Iranian influence.

  • Remove Washington’s perceived dependence on Ankara by having the State and Defense Departments work together to develop alternatives to the Incirlik airbase in Turkey for air operations against ISIS.
  • Use any U.S. leverage to encourage Turkey to resolve its myriad domestic sources of instability by urging Turkey and Kurdish groups to return to peace talks, before the ongoing conflict escalate further.
  • Renegotiate or Extend the Iran Deal within the next eight years as the foundation of all U.S. Iran policy. The United States will need new leverage and enhanced credibility, which takes time to build, in order to prevent the JCPOA from lapsing in 2024, when Iran would be allowed to start reinstalling advanced centrifuges and enriching uranium without limit.