Khalilzad’s Opening Remarks Prior to Donald Trump’s Foreign Policy Speech

In my recently published memoir, The Envoy, I tell the story of coming from Afghanistan to the United States — legally — as a teenager — and of my later service as US diplomat in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the United Nations; analyzing what we did right and drawing lessons for the future. America gave me an opportunity to succeed and I have tried to pay back a little by my service to the United States. I mention my book, I would like everyone to read it, and to borrow a phrase from Mr. Trump, “it will make your head spin.”

Today, as the primaries wind down, Donald Trump delivers a much anticipated speech on his foreign policy philosophy. This is a critical moment for America and for the world.

Since the end of World War II — some 70 years now — the United States has supported a world order that precluded war among the major powers. We have prevented hostile hegemons from dominating critical regions — Asia, the Middle East and Europe. We did so by:

— maintaining a favorable balance of power,

— by creating, expanding and sustaining strong alliances, and

— by seeking areas of cooperation and reconciliation with rivals.

But while war among major powers have been precluded, we have been embroiled in several costly and protracted conflicts. And the world has become more complex, unstable, and dangerous, one in which rival powers are more aggressive; hostile regimes are pursuing weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, long range missiles and cyber capabilities; and the threat of terrorism and extremism is acute.

Indeed, the international order — the state system created by the West — is itself under attack by revisionist states and rising powers with alternative concepts of order. As often seen in our history, after a period of great exertion during the first decade of the 21st century post 9/11, we are in a period of withdrawal and retreat.

And things can still get a lot worse. We have a sluggish economy — growing inequality — rising debt and debt service. Our infrastructure needs attention and the demand for domestic programs is growing. Pressure is rising to reduce expenditure for national security at a time when we need to pay more attention to our security needs.

Against this backdrop, the presidential primaries have shown that our country is deeply conflicted and polarized about America’s purpose and mission around the world. Mr. Trump has been a provocative voice in this debate. His message has resonated with a significant part of our electorate.

The National Interest has invited Mr. Trump to elaborate upon his distinctive views about America’s role in the world, and explain how he would lead America as commander in chief.

We will extend similar invitations to the other candidates.

We are delighted Mr. Trump is here. Please join me in welcoming him.

Thank you.

Watch the full event including the remarks on