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Second, there are those who acknowledge that we cannot leave Afghanistan in its current state but suggest that we go forward with the troops that we have. But this would simply maintain a status quo in which we muddle through and permit a slow deterioration of conditions there. It would ultimately prove more costly and prolong our stay in Afghanistan, because we would never be able to generate the conditions needed to train Afghan security forces and give them the space to take over.
Finally, there are those who oppose identifying a time frame for our transition to Afghan responsibility. Indeed, some call for a more dramatic and open-ended escalation of our war effort one that would commit us to a nation-building project of up to a decade. I reject this course because it sets goals that are beyond what we can achieve at a reasonable cost and what we need to achieve to secure our interests. Furthermore, the absence of a time frame for transition would deny us any sense of urgency in working with the Afghan government. It must be clear that Afghans will have to take responsibility for their security and that America has no interest in fighting an endless war in Afghanistan.
As President, I refuse to set goals that go beyond our responsibility, our means or our interests. And I must weigh all of the challenges that our nation faces. I do not have the luxury of committing to just one. Indeed, I am mindful of the words of President Eisenhower, who in discussing our national security said, "Each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs."
Over the past several years, we have lost that balance and failed to appreciate the connection between our national security and our economy. In the wake of an economic crisis, too many of our friends and neighbors are out of work and struggle to pay the bills, and too many Americans are worried about the future facing our children. Meanwhile, competition within the global economy has grown more fierce. So we simply cannot afford to ignore the price of these wars.
All told, by the time I took office, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan approached a trillion dollars. Going forward, I am committed to addressing these costs openly and honestly. Our new approach in Afghanistan is likely to cost us roughly $30 billion for the military this year, and I will work closely with Congress to address these costs as we work to bring down our deficit.
But as we end the war in Iraq and transition to Afghan responsibility, we must rebuild our strength here at home. Our prosperity provides a foundation for our power. It pays for our military. It underwrites our diplomacy. It taps the potential of our people and allows investment in new industry. And it will allow us to compete in this century as successfully as we did in the last. That is why our troop commitment in Afghanistan cannot be open-ended because the nation that I am most interested in building is our own.
Let me be clear: none of this will be easy. The struggle against violent extremism will not be finished quickly, and it extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan. It will be an enduring test of our free society and our leadership in the world. And unlike the great power conflicts and clear lines of division that defined the 20th century, our effort will involve disorderly regions and diffuse enemies.
So as a result, America will have to show our strength in the way that we end wars and prevent conflict. We will have to be nimble and precise in our use of military power. Where al-Qaeda and its allies attempt to establish a foothold whether in Somalia or Yemen or elsewhere they must be confronted by growing pressure and strong partnerships.
And we cannot count on military might alone. We have to invest in our homeland security, because we cannot capture or kill every violent extremist abroad. We have to improve and better coordinate our intelligence so that we stay one step ahead of shadowy networks.
We will have to take away the tools of mass destruction. That is why I have made it a central pillar of my foreign policy to secure loose nuclear materials from terrorists, to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and to pursue the goal of a world without them. Because every nation must understand that true security will never come from an endless race for ever more destructive weapons true security will come for those who reject them.
We will have to use diplomacy, because no one nation can meet the challenges of an interconnected world acting alone. I have spent this year renewing our alliances and forging new partnerships. And we have forged a new beginning between America and the Muslim world one that recognizes our mutual interest in breaking a cycle of conflict and that promises a future in which those who kill innocents are isolated by those who stand up for peace and prosperity and human dignity.