Remarks by the Vice President to the Truman National Security Project and Center for National Policy
Washington Marriott at Metro Center
6:49 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Now, there was a beautiful woman standing in front of me -- so, press, I'm not making this up -- (laughter) -- holding her badge and pointing to the fact she’s pregnant. (Laughter.) That probably means don't make it more than 15 or 20 minutes. (Laughter.)
So, kiddo, if you start to feel weak, come up and sit right down here -- (laughter) -- all right? Okay?
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.) (Applause.)
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Scott, thank you for such a heartfelt and wonderful and somewhat exaggerated introduction. (Laughter.) Scott was winning by 10 points, so I went up and campaigned for him. But he won in spite of it.
Folks, there’s an awful lot of you standing out there that belong to this organization who are -- like Scott, like my son, Hunter, like my son, Beau was -- who are engaged for the right reason. And this is not your first rodeo. This is not the first time you’ve stepped up. You stepped up in the service of your country in many ways, as young as many of you are.
And another one of those individuals you're going to hear from in a moment is Tim Kaine. And I understand that Congressman -- Ruben, are you here? (Applause.) Ruben, it's good to see you, buddy. And I understand Scott Peters is here. We got to say hello. And also I want to say thank you to Scott Bates, the president of the Center for National Policy, and Michael Breen, the executive director of the Truman Project.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is not my first time here. The last time I was here you were gracious enough to give me an award that was molded -- that was named after one of my mentors. And he was truly one of my mentors, one of the reasons I came to the Senate -- Ed Muskie.
There is a consistency about the Truman organization -- this is about all those of you who look back at Truman and understand how underappreciated he was at the time and how significant everything he did was for the past 70 years of our existence. So I'm here today to start off by saying thank you. Many of you, like Congressman Moulton, served in uniform. Many of you have dedicated your careers to serving on the front line as civilian leaders, policy experts, including several of my most trusted staffers who have done all of that and so much more.
You’ve helped change the conversation, most importantly -- the conversation in this country, arguing with your words and, more importantly, with your example for a vision of American leadership based on shared security and prosperity among a community of nations. The vision is the lasting legacy of the namesake of this organization, Harry S. Truman.
The international order that Truman helped shape into existence has become so foundational that it’s just taken for granted, as if somehow it appeared. At the time Truman was in office, there was nothing obvious or inevitable about the wisdom of rebuilding our former allies and our former enemies. We had 12 million people in uniform -- half the countries we were rebuilding killed our brothers and sisters, we're our enemies. But we had leaders who had vision enough to understand that the way to respond was to rebuild -- rebuild our friends and our enemies.
There was nothing clear about the path forward to a modern alliance based on not just shared interests but, in this case, shared values -- a combination of both. That had not occurred before. There was no precedent for the balancing act required to manage the dawn of a horrific, destructive age -- the nuclear age -- power concentrated in only a few hands and at odds with one another. And there was no international organization to provide or prevent a place where we could in effect generate a resurgence of economic and military strength and stability to avoid the calamities that we faced in the ‘30s and ‘40s. None of it was obvious at the time. None of it. It took what Scott said -- political courage.
To digress for just a moment, when I got elected to the Senate -- I ran in 1972. I was 29-years-old. I’d never -- I’m the first United States senator I ever knew. (Laughter.) For real. Now, that’s a fact. When I got elected, I wasn’t old enough to take office. I had to wait to become constitutionally eligible. And I came out of a scholastic tradition, like all of you did, thinking that all we had to do was elect smarter, brighter people to office in order for things to -- because the war in Vietnam was occurring, the Civil Rights Movement wasn’t finished yet, which is what got me involved in politics. The women’s movement was just beginning, the environmental movement -- you were a pariah if you talked about the environment. And I thought, we just need brighter people.
And I got to the Senate and I found something amazing. The senators I had some of the greatest difficult with are among the brightest women and men I’ve ever known in my life. I’m not joking. Their IQs were equal or higher to all of yours -- (laughter) -- I’m serious about this. They knew more about everything from modern art to science than most Americans know. And I realized it wasn’t a lack of intellectual competence, as Scott said. It was a lack of a willingness to, first, listen, and secondly, take on interests that, in fact, could cause them difficult.
Harry Truman is the embodiment of rejecting both those premises. In short, he found himself at one of the great inflection points in human history. I had a physics professor when I was in high school who explained what an inflection point was the following way. He said, you’re riding down the highway at 60 miles an hour, you have both hands on the wheel, and you turn very abruptly in one direction. And that shifts your course so significantly that you can never, ever, ever get back on the path you were on before. He was at an inflection point in world history. Things were going to change drastically, regardless of what he did. The question was, was he going to put his hands on the wheel and try to affect the outcome? That’s what the 1940s were about. Folks required a new international order to keep the peace and rebuild an international alliance and prosperity.
That’s exactly what Truman helped do by bringing into being the Marshall Plan, NATO, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, I could go on. And for over 70 years, nations around the world have reaped the benefits of his forward thinking and those who he worked with, no nation more than the United States of America.
But now we stand at another inflection point. And I mean this literally, not figuratively, we’re at another inflection point. My colleagues in the Senate for years used to kid me all the time because I’m always quoting Irish poets. (Laughter.) They think I do it because I’m Irish. (Laughter.) I don’t do it for that reason -- they’re just simply the best poets. (Laughter and applause.) And one of my favorite poets is William Butler Yeats. And his 150th anniversary of his birth was this past month. And he wrote a poem about the first rising in Ireland in the 20th century. It was called “Easter Sunday, 1916.” And in that poem, he used the line that applies to today’s world in circumstance even more than it did to his Ireland, in my view, in 1916. He wrote, “All’s changed, changed utterly, a terrible beauty has been born.” “All’s changed, changed utterly, a terrible beauty has been born.” You’re all young, thank goodness, but all has changed in the last 15 years. In fundamental ways all has changed. Tides of history that were inevitable have risen up. All has changed. The terrible beauty is represented in both the problems and the opportunities.
Since Harry Truman walked these streets, new powers have emerged on the world stage, rendering and reordering the global balance. The existing powers like Russia are once again testing the limits of international law and acceptable behavior.
Non-state actors like ISIL are exploiting the weakness of state system in the Middle East. An ongoing revolution in technology is transforming the way people relate to one another across the globe and across the room, creating so much promise but exposing so many vulnerabilities. And another ongoing revolution is taking place in the production, distribution and use of energy that’s going to drastically change the international landscape in the next half of this century.
And these are just some of the challenges and opportunities you face and will face as professionals engaged in the security of this nation and the world. And as we tackle this new age, we believe, I believe -- the President and I believe what you believe: That it’s not only possible, but it’s absolutely critical to be both tough and smart on the world stage.
That’s why we focused on strengthening our core alliances in Europe and Asia, and with Israel, while building the capacities for our partners throughout the Middle East, and growing new partnerships in Africa and the Western Hemisphere and beyond. It’s a long process. It’s tough. Building a constructive relationship with China -- a relationship that will in many ways define the future for your children maybe more than any other single relationship that emerges. Building productive relationships with emerging powers like India, and Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa. And defending longstanding and accepted international rules of the road, such as respect for territorial integrity, freedom of navigation, non-proliferation, while laying down a new set of international rules and standards reflecting the changed interconnectedness of the world in issues like trade in the 21st century, cybersecurity, climate change. They were not on the agenda even 15 years ago like they are today. And in the process, continuing to protect the United States from the threat of violent extremism by strengthening our homeland defenses and deepening our counterterrorism cooperation with nations around the world.
But ultimately, our strength -- our strength overseas -- depends on our economic strength at home. That’s why we focused so intently in strengthening the economy, our economy, making some very tough and very unpopular decisions on the left and the right. But we’ve brought the economy from crisis to recovery, and we’re on the cusp of resurgence. I am more optimistic about America’s prospects -- this is not hyperbole. I have always been characterized as the young idealist from the time I got here, and I’m clearly not young anymore. (Laughter.) But I am more certain, more confident about the prospects for America in the next 40 years than I have been any time in my career.
In the process, economically, we’ve brought 12.6 million people into private sector jobs; 63 straight months of employment growth; $30 trillion in household wealth added since the President and I took office. Unemployment down from 10 percent to -- excuse me, from 10 percent to 5.5 percent. And I predict over the next 18 months it will drop, I predict, below 5 percent. U.S. exports at record levels. Established once and for all that health care is a right, not a privilege. (Applause.) And the profound economic benefit that flows from that.
And our ability to lead the world depends on making sure we lead as much by the power of our example as the example of our power, acting on the world stage in a way that’s consistent with the values we espouse. Why are we so respected? Why do people from every corner of the world seek to come to the United States? It’s because of our values. It’s because of who we say we are. And it’s critically important for us to be able to lead the world, to make those stated values consistent with the way we act: banning torture; working to close Guantanamo; making government more transparent; expanding rights for the LGBT community; working to achieve a common-sense immigration reform.
What people don’t realize about immigration reform, for those of you who deal internationally -- I had a grandfather named Ambrose Finnegan, a very bright, well-educated man who was an all-American football player at Santa Clara, was a good guy. Very bright guy. My grandfather could never -- there’s two kind of Irishman. There’s the Irishman of rectitude and the Irishman who are emotional. (Laughter.) My grandpop was the rectitude guy. But he had great difficulty when I was growing up with the Brits. You know what bothered him the most? He didn’t think that the Brits respected the Irish -- just respected them, thought them their equal.
The single best thing we can do to change the environment in this hemisphere and beyond is to demonstrate to the rest of the world the respect we show from the citizens from their part of the world as to how we treat them. That’s why immigration is so important in the conduct of foreign policy.
Our strategy for this world recognizes not every development in the world is about the United States of America. The United States can’t solve every problem in the world alone. But many problems that can’t be solved -- but most problems can’t be solved without the United States’ engagement.
We recognize that there are parts of the world where we react to change and seek to manage events to protect our interests, but we’re not going to be able to put together -- anybody -- your children, who are in graduate school writing a senior thesis on the question of what did they do about the Arab Spring, whomever among your children starts the paper off by saying, what made them think they could fundamentally affect the Arab Spring, will win the book in the course.
So there’s certain things we just have to manage, and be bright and take some risks. But there are other areas of the world where we can actually take action that now has the potential to be transformative and can impact on the United States and our children and grandchildren for generations. We have a chance to lay down new tracks, if you will. And let me mention three: Asia, the Western Hemisphere, and Europe.
The Asia Pacific region is home to more than half the world’s population and a growing middle class. It generates half of all global output, and half of all global trade. At the same time, ongoing territorial disputes, poverty, environmental issues, North Korea’s nuclear missile program, threaten, among other things, regional security.
Because of the enormous potential, alongside the real threats, our administration set out to revitalize the relationship with the Asia Pacific region. As part of that strategy, we are working to build a more constructive relationship with China.
Just this week, we hosted the seventh U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue that I had the privilege of opening up. And I said at the time -- I told them that -- the same thing I told President Xi on many occasions. I’ve had the occasion to spend an awful lot of time with him. When he was Vice President, President Hu and President Obama decided we should get to know one another, because I'm of the view all politics is personal, particularly international relations. Because it’s based on trust -- not liking or disliking, trusting that you understand what the other person’s objectives are.
And when I talked to him about -- he asked why we were so engaged in the Pacific -- is that we’re a Pacific power. We have been. And your economic stability is a consequence of our providing regional stability as an economic power. And we’re going to continue to be. He talked about competition. And I said, we owe you a lot, you’ve awakened the giant. We got kind of -- no I'm serious -- we got kind of sloppy. We got kind of full of ourselves. But stamped into the DNA of every natural-born and naturalized American, in their DNA, is an overwhelming instinct for competition. (Laughter.) No, I mean it. I'm serious.
And the United States of America is not only well-positioned to thrive, but to contribute to the economic growth of the entire world. And the single most important relationship for that is China.
But I also told the gathering this past week that for China to ultimately succeed, it has to act as a responsible competitor. Any country that relies on unhealthy practices to undermine healthy competition with others ultimately limits itself. You steal our economic -- excuse me -- you steal our intellectual property, you don’t generate an environment in which you spontaneously generate your own economic and intellectual property.
Nations must use their cyber technology as an economic -- if they use their capability in cyber technology as an economic weapon, they profit from the theft of intellectual property, they’re sacrificing tomorrow to gain a very short-term edge today because they squelch the innovative drive and determination of their own people.
You know, I’ve been making speeches to graduations around the world -- around the nation for a long, long time, since 1996. I remember the first time I made the speech about, China has graduated six times as many engineers and scientists we have -- and they have. But gentlemen, where’s the innovation? It’s not in China. It’s not in China. Because unless you can breathe free, unless you can challenge orthodoxy, you can’t make significant new gains. And nations that discard diplomacy and use coercion and intimidation to settle disputes, or turn a blind eye to aggression of others, only invite instability.
Finally, I told the group that responsible competitors draw on the talents of every part of their societies, protecting the rights and voices of women, minorities, journalists, civil society, religious leaders. They allow non-government organizations and educational groups to operate without harassment and intimidation -- the nations that do that are the nations that are genuinely progressing.
In short, respect for human rights is not just the right thing to do, but it’s also absolutely economically necessary. I talked about rules of physics -- these aren’t American-made rules. In the 21st century, there are -- it’s as certain as the rules of physics. Certain economic principles that if a nation is not engaged in, they will not ultimately prosper. Because as surely as people cannot live without blood coursing through their veins, societies cannot survive without the full participation of all of their citizens.
I pointed out in my speech to the group there’s a Chinese expression: Women hold up half the world. Any nation that does not take advantage of half the world -- I mean this sincerely. It’s not hyperbole, it’s not just nice rhetoric, it is a fact. But we’re committing to building up the U.S.-China relationship where we can, but also to push back where we must, including on the freedom of navigation, and in the maritime domain. China, like all nations in Asia, benefits from the stability and prosperity the United States has helped maintain for over 60 years. And we’re going to continue to play that role in decades to come.
The Pacific Ocean laps up 7,623 miles on our shoreline. What happens in the Pacific affects us significantly. And we’ve made clear that the United States will remain a Pacific power. And a major part of managing the U.S.-China relationship rests on our ability to demonstrate staying power and leadership in the region. That’s why, by the way, TPP is so important. We can argue about winners and losers, but you can’t argue about the phenomenal foreign policy downside that would flow from the failure to get that agreement ratified.
That’s why we’re strengthening our alliances in the region. Why we’re deepening our cooperation with emerging powers like India and Indonesia, and important regional institutions like ASEAN, and the East Asia Summit, and the Pacific Island Forum.
And that’s why we continue to work on the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- the most progressive trade agreement in history, I might add. It will stitch together the economies of 12 Pacific nations behind a rising standard regarding labor and the environment and fair competition. And it’s not only about economic growth at home, but it’s also about the profound strategic element that it contains. Because deeper economic ties cement our partnerships and demonstrate the United States’ commitment to shared growth and prosperity. The nations that border the Pacific, from Asia to South America, will be the economic engine of the 21st century.
In the Western Hemisphere, we have an opportunity to fundamentally change the relationship. For the first time in history, since the President put me -- asked me to lead on the hemisphere -- I made a speech three years ago saying -- it’s not very much contested now -- saying, for the first time in history you can look from northern Canada to the tip of Chile, and you can truly envision a region that’s secure, democratic and middle class, everywhere in between.
There’s a lot more work to be done. But it’s within our power, with a little bit of luck and an awful lot of your intellectual horsepower. Forty-six percent of all our exports stay in this hemisphere. We trade almost $1.5 billion per day with Mexico alone, and U.S. exports to Canada and Mexico support more than 3 million jobs here in the United States now. And that can only grow.
North America is now the epicenter of energy in the world, and will account for two-thirds of the growth in global energy supply over the next 20 years -- two-thirds. That’s a gigantic, dynamic change. We can no longer look at the region in terms of what the United States can do for the rest of Latin America and South America, but what we can accomplish together. Because the underlying problem has been and continues to be that -- and with the President’s leadership we’re chipping away at -- is the lack of trust. The lack of trust about what our motives are.
The President and I understood from the beginning that transforming our relationship in the region rests on the ability to rebuild -- or build for the first time -- some genuine trust. That’s the most important thing that happened with our Cuba policy. It was a game-changer for our relationship not with Cuba, with the hemisphere. We’re now actually testing the limits of what’s possible.
The President and I will host Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff -- today I spent an hour on the phone with her today. And we look to advance our cooperation on global issues like food, energy security, climate change, international peacekeeping, while deepening our bilateral ties in areas like defense -- the eighth largest economy in the world. We’re partnering with Colombia, Mexico and others to combat the scourge of drug trafficking, international drug trafficking. We’re helping Central American countries tackle the rampant poverty and insecurity with our initiative that I believe will get passed in the United States Congress.
But the single-most important thing we can do, I’ll come back to it again, to build our trust in the hemisphere with our neighbors is to pass common-sense immigration reform. You have no idea, maybe some of you do. (Applause.) You have no idea how much horsepower that has among hemispheric leaders. When other countries know that we actually look to and treat their people with respect, it changes attitudes, it broadens our horizons. And the relationship is changing, and the benefits will be astounding if we treat our neighbors and their people with respect and dignity.
And respect is also at the core of our continued commitment to Europe, whole, free, and at peace -- particularly in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, another place where we can, as Truman did, if we’re smart -- if we’re smart, we can change the nature of the equation for the next 40 years.
We have an unshakeable belief in the rights of nations on the frontier of Europe, to choose their own destiny. It’s about the future of NATO, our collective self-defense, our unity, our strength, our ability to deter aggression together. And as the experience in Ukraine has shown, aggression takes many forms. Russia has shown what can happen when a major power uses asymmetric tactics to weaken a neighbor, threatening energy supplies, supporting corruption, spreading propaganda, army proxies, deploying little green men with a mission but no uniforms across sovereign borders.
In response, we have unified Europe. The President has unified Europe, standing together to impose the most severe sanctions in European history when they have been uncertain about imposing the sanctions. But it’s because of our strength, it’s because of the knowledge how badly we are needed that they’re acting what they think is against their immediate self-interest but is overwhelmingly in their interest.
We have made our position clear: Sanctions on Russia must and will remain in place until the Minsk agreement is fully implemented. And if greater aggression occurs, sanctions will be increased. Ukraine has now held the freest and fairest election in the history of Ukraine. They’ve signed an association agreement with the European Union. And collectively, our European friends were confronting the use of energy as a weapon, replacing country by country energy strategy with a cohesive and coherent collective and diversified fuel-type supplies and sources.
In spite of all that Russia has done, Ukraine has been able to move. And we’ve already made significant progress in the face of Russian cut-off of gas supplies to Ukraine last year, we supported the EU’s effort to mediate a gas deal and work through Ukraine’s neighbors to increase reverse flows of gas, shipments to Ukraine. We supported Lithuania as it inaugurated its first LNG terminal, ending the Baltic region’s complete dependence on European imports.
Imagine Europe today if it had no dependence whatsoever on Russian energy sources. Imagine how much that changes the leverage Russia is using in contravention of international norms. We applause and encourage Europe’s efforts to take a more regional approach because the more stable the energy supply means a more secure Europe and a more secure world. And we must also confront the use of corruption as a new foreign policy tool.
I won’t take the time now, but I argued some time ago that there’s a new weapon and tool -- the use of oligarchs and corruption as a foreign policy tool, aggressively and as corrosively as other tools used by those who -- it’s like Kryptonite to a functioning democracy. Corruption siphons away resources, it destroys the trust in government, hollows out militaries, and it affronts the people’s dignity in the countries where it’s rampant. And the stakes are strategic as well as economic because Russia and others are using corruption and oligarchs as tools of coercion as I speak.
I’ve made three trips to Ukraine just this year, since the conflict began. I speak with Prime Minister Yatsenyuk and [President] Poroshenko literally every week, on average. They’ve made great strides in passing laws to reform and limit the influence of oligarchs and corruption. They now have to implement those laws. And as long as Ukraine leaders keep faith with the project of reform, the United States will continue to stay with them.
Since the start of the crisis, we have provided over $470 million in economic assistance. We’ve introduced -- which includes $200 million for the armed forces, National Guard and border services, with U.S. personnel on the ground training. $1 billion loan guarantee this year, another billion-dollar loan guarantee signed last month, and potentially another billion at the end of this year if Ukraine continues their path to reform.
Much of the debate here in Washington has focused on whether we should provide additional defensive lethal weapons to Ukraine. Everyone knows my view on that, but I have not prevailed yet. (Laughter.) But this debate is worth having. This debate is worth having. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that Ukraine also needs basic military equipment and training, which we’re also providing on the ground.
And our NATO allies have contributed to a Ukraine trust fund established at the Wales Summit -- NATO Wales Summit. It’s profoundly in our self-interest -- and the self-interest of the world -- that this new Ukraine emerges as a prosperous, democratic, independent, reform-oriented country that cannot be bribed, coerced or intimidated.
And, by the way, everybody who asks me, and the President as well -- it’s either pay me now or pay me later. The cost will be so much higher if we walk away. Beyond Ukraine, the acts of Russian opportunism and aggression require us to address more broadly the systematic European points of vulnerability. We have to build on the Truman legacy by reinvigorating and retooling NATO to be able to respond to the new hybrid, asymmetric warfare threats that we’re seeing today.
NATO’s Readiness Action Plan is an important start -- allowing us to step up our military presence in the air, at sea, and on land, from the Baltics to Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. And we’re pleased that some of our NATO allies have made similar contributions. But too many of them are still failing to meet the commitment they made at the Wales Summit for a 2 percent share of their GDP for defense. Collective defense has to be shared responsibility -- not just in rhetoric but also in resources.
The United States remains in many ways the one indispensable nation on Earth, and we have to embrace that role, just as President Truman embraced it in the ‘40s. But we also have to recognize, as Truman did, that we can’t do it alone. That at this critical juncture, confronting challenges and seizing opportunities means leading a community of stakeholders, beyond the common interest, by focusing on our common interest, their common interest and ideals. You’re going to help define the solution -- all of you standing in this room, in this very hot room -- (laughter) -- as you embody these ideals.
Some of you may know, I was very active in trying to get and ultimately convincing President Clinton to engage Slobodan Milosevic in Serbia. I was in and out of the Balkans over 25, 26 times. My son, Major Biden, was then with the Justice Department; he volunteered, and he was a prosecutor. He volunteered to spend a year in Pristina trying to help set up the criminal justice system in the middle of a war.
And I was there three times while he was there, and had to go up to a place called Fort Bondsteel. And it was in March and it was rainy and muddy, and it was on the top of a hill where we were putting in an airbase that accommodated our forces. And my son was in the backseat with me as we were riding up the hill, and I had a Kosovo driver who was Muslim, who spoke a little bit of English and had been with me for two days. And as we approach this rutted, muddy road, going up the hill with our wheels spinning, for real, we got to the point where the pike was across the road -- a red-and-white striped pike -- and there was a little hut there. And there were five Americans standing shoulder-to-shoulder at the pike to stop and salute.
And my driver looked up and he went -- because he looked up the hill and he said, “America.” America. Meaning how incredible we were in terms of our capacity to just take the top of a mountain off and build a base, get this all done so quickly. And I tapped him on the shoulder, I said -- I give you my word this is a true story -- “That's America.” And I pointed to a black sergeant, a woman sergeant, a black colonel, a white woman who was -- I can't remember her rank, but an officer, and the commanding officer at that point who was a one-star who happened to be white. I said, “That's America.” And until you figure it out, until you figure it out, you will never, ever, ever succeed. That's the fundamental -- the fundamental example we had to show to the world.
We are the most heterogeneous democracy. And we mean it -- America’s strength lies ultimately, as you know as well as I do, in the diversity of our people. The uniqueness of America is that we are a group of people who agree that, by and large, with notable exceptions, that all men and women are created equal.
That’s the history, that's the strength, that the vibrancy of America.
And that’s why we are able to and why we have the obligation to continue to lead. It’s costly. It takes sacrifice. And sometimes, it’s really, really dangerous.
I carry in my pocket every day a -- actually, I took my schedule out -- on my schedule -- here it is -- on my schedule, every single day I ask my staff to call the Defense Department at 5:00 a.m. in the morning. You can't see it, but there’s a little box here in black. And every day for the past seven years, I've done this, even before I became Vice President. It says, “U.S. daily troop update. Number of U.S. troops died in Afghanistan and Iraq -- 6,716. Not “over 6,000” -- 6,716 -- because every one of these fallen angels left behind a community. Every one.
Troops wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq with visible wounds -- 52,302 as of today. Troop levels, Afghanistan security assistance, advisors and COUNTRY -- 10,101. Iraq security assistance -- 1,402.
There’s a heavy price to pay for the leadership we have an obligation. But the price we'll pay if we don't lead will be so much higher.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have the capacity, and it's going to be up to you -- and I'm not being solicitous -- you, you in this room -- we have the capacity, but you have to sustain the will to lead, as you’ve advocated for years, in a rational, strategic and responsible manner.
In the tradition of Truman and, I might add, Eisenhower, the next administration has to be prepared to continue to exercise responsibility and build on our success, while recognizing how difficult the task is. The world is at another inflection point -- we have our hands on the wheel. The only time you get a chance to bend history just a little bit is at one of those points. For real.
So if you're ever going to be engaged in the conduct of American foreign policy, this is the moment. It's dangerous, but it's the only time you’ll have in your life, most likely, to be able to actually affect, at least on the margins, outcomes. If we’re wise, if we have courage and resolve and belief in the core values that we say we -- that set us apart as a nation, we ought to be able to work together to make the world a more just and secure place.
There is a man that I got to work with a little bit in the Senate, got to campaign for him when he was governor running for the Senate, who lives the values I've just laid out every day. He’s taking on an increasingly important role within the United States Congress to do just that -- to allow us to lead with the clear recognition how difficult it is without the hubris that sometimes follows our foreign policy and with an overwhelming dose of humility about what we can do in specific circumstances. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to my friend, Tim Kaine. (Applause.)
Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
7:33 P.M. EDT