The savage attacks on Paris last week are a reminder of what is at stake in this election: We are choosing not just the president of the United States, but the leader of the free world.
The last seven years under President Obama have taught us that problems do not take care of themselves in the absence of American leadership. And his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, has said that her foreign policy would be no more aggressive or forward-leaning than his.
Let me say what they will not: We are at war with radical Islamic terrorists. It is the war of our time, and a struggle that will determine the fate of the free world.
The urgency of addressing this growing threat is clear, and the United States should not delay in leading a global coalition to take out ISIS with overwhelming force. Militarily, we need to intensify our efforts in the air, though they alone cannot produce the results we seek. In conjunction with NATO allies and local partners, we will also need to increase our presence on the ground. And ISIS can't be defeated without ending Assad's brutal war against his own people, creating a political solution that allows for a stable Syria.
For generations, American-led alliances, American diplomacy, American military power, and American credibility kept the peace and deterred the violent. This is the way forward in our time as well. The fate of millions, the security of our own people, and the cause of human freedom itself all depend on the decisions we make in these coming years.
Defending our national interests always involves risk, but the greatest risk of all is the risk of military inferiority. Unless we change course, that is where we'll wind up. The next president will take office after an eight-year drawdown of American military power, and careless, chronic neglect by the president and Congress.
In the span of a decade, our government will have withheld a trillion dollars from our national-defense budget. There is no strategic rationale for these cuts. They are completely arbitrary, imposed by a process that everyone in Washington claims to dislike, but no one in Washington has the courage to stop. In my administration, security for the United States will mean gaining and keeping the edge in every category, old and new. Whether it's our command of the seas, the land, or the air, of space or cyberspace, America's goal should be technological superiority beyond any doubt.
My plan puts the warfighters first, to maintain a force without equal. When we do use force, it must be effective, and our objectives must be well defined, so that one deployment doesn't lead to endless others -- or leave the job undone. I have a plan for a 21st-century military to project that force -- when necessary -- around the globe. We don't need to be the world's policemen, but we must restore our place as the leader and indispensable power of the free world.
Beginning immediately as president, I would work with Congress to rebuild our military forces, starting with their most urgent needs: a new generation of aircraft, so that our planes aren't older than our pilots; a larger naval fleet, so that our sailors patrol in the strongest and safest ships on the seas, and an acceleration of our submarine program, so that America's silent service can maintain its lethal edge; improved missile defenses to protect against the growing threats posed by Iranian and North Korean missiles; surveillance and cybersecurity capabilities superior to anything fielded against them, so that we find the threats before the threats find us; and a restoration of the PATRIOT Act's metadata program, to ensure we have the ability to connect the dots between known foreign terrorists and potential operatives here in the United States.
But we cannot and will not simply throw money at this problem. We need to reform the Pentagon, shedding overhead passed down from a different generation and adapting it to our 21st-century challenges. That means procurement reform so we buy the right tools at the right price -- and get them to our warriors at the right time.
In the aftermath of the bloodshed in Paris, this generation knows the cost of war, but also knows the even greater cost of drift and inaction. Radical Islamic terrorists have declared war on the West. Their aim is our total destruction. We can't withdraw from this threat, nor negotiate with it. As president, I will be resolute in pursuit of our only option: We must defeat it.