WASHINGTON (AP) — Urging both political parties to "pay the price for peace," Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Monday said the United States must boost military spending by tens of billions of dollars to help end what he described chaos and conflict around the world.
In a speech at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, the Republican governor criticized President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and even congressional Republicans for cutting military spending to its lowest level in generations.
"Peace through strength costs infinitely less in American blood and treasure than does war precipitated by weakness," Jindal said. "We must be willing to pay the price for peace."
He is among a slate of presidential contenders jockeying for position ahead of an election in which foreign policy may be a defining issue. As international tensions rise elsewhere, Obama suggested that military operations against the Islamic State group would take several years to complete, ensuring a prominent role for the conflict in the 2016 election.
Jindal said he has been "thinking and praying" about a possible run and suggested a decision wouldn't come until after the winter holiday season.
In his remarks, Jindal said the nation should spend approximately 4 percent of its gross domestic product on defense spending — a move he said would cost American taxpayers roughly $80 billion in additional spending. Asked about balancing cuts to entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security, Jindal said that "Defense comes first."
Currently, the federal government's 2014 base budget was $552.1 billion plus $80.7 billion for the war in Afghanistan and other overseas operations for a total of $632.8 billion. The amount is consistent with the budget numbers approved by Republicans and Democrats in Congress.
Since 2010, deficit hawks within the GOP have prevailed over defense hawks to hold down spending, a reflection of a war-weary nation after two conflicts in the decade since Sept. 11.
Jindal, who described himself as a fiscal conservative, said the nation's security required a better-funded Pentagon.
"Today, we are living with the consequences of the Obama-Clinton ideas when it comes to foreign, domestic and defense policy," he said. "And those ideas have set America on a path that will create more chaos, more conflict and more wars."
Jindal is set to deliver another foreign policy speech on Tuesday at the Citadel in South Carolina.