Business mogul Donald Trump was sworn as the nation’s 45th commander in chief on Friday, promising to return government to the people and return American might to the international stage.
“This American carnage stops right here and stops right now,” he told a crowd of Washington, D.C. dignataries and tens of thousands of supporters under dreary skies on the steps of the Capitol. “We are one nation and [our fellow Americans’] pain is our pain.
“Their dreams are our dreams and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.”
Trump’s speech echoed the populist themes of his unconventional presidential campaign, one that saw him rise from reality television star to Republican presidential nominee to the Oval Office.
His inauguration speech also repeated one of his most frequent national security promises of the campaign trail: a full re-evaluation of American foreign military aid.
“For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military,” he said. “We’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own, and spent trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.
“We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon. … But that is the past. And now we are looking only to the future.”
He did not reference NATO by name, but has repeatedly questioned whether America should continue its leadership and stewardship role in the military alliance.
The new president has frequently promised to boost defense spending and increase American military might, adding thousands more troops, ships and aircraft to the Pentagon’s arsenal.
And he has promised a full rethinking of the country’s national security priorities.
“We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power,” he said.
“From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this moment on, it’s going to be America first. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families.”
He promised to reinforce alliances with friendly nations but also to “unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.”
Much of the speech painted a pessimistic view of America under President Barack Obama’s leadership, lamenting problems of crime and unemployment and tying them a decline in the national prestige.
But he also pledged to work to unite the country after a vicious year-long campaign, and told the country that “there should be no fear” in looking to the future.
“We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we are protected by God,” he said. “We must think big and dream even bigger.”
More than 13,000 military personnel took part in the inauguration, providing security and ceremonial service for several days of events. Trump praised them in his speech as an example for the rest of the country.
“It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American flag,” he said.
Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.