“America is in the game and America is going to win.”
President Donald Trump on Monday announced his new hawkish “America first” national security strategy, saying “America is in the game and America is going to win.” He specifically warns of competition from China and Russia, calling them “rival powers.”
This marks an obvious principled realist departure from the more accommodating stance held by the Obama administration and may well imply that America is going nowhere when it comes to ceding any of its clout on the international stage for the gain of others. This been a marked strategic interest of Russian President Vladimir Putin and in line with China’s 2015 call for a ‘new world order’ to “counterbalance US influence” in the Asia-Pacific.
Notably, Trump’s 20-minute national security speech was not as explicit the written document, which provides far greater detail:
China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity. They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence.
This could be why as noted by NPR, the new strategy appeared at odds with his friendly trip to China last month: The written strategy referenced China 23 times but not once in a positive light. At the time, President Trump said that the U.S. and China had “a chance to strengthen ties and improve the lives of our citizens and stand together against those who threaten our civilization.”
As reported by Fox News, the congressionally mandated national security strategy is based on four principles: protecting the homeland by restricting immigration, pressuring trading partners, building up the military and otherwise increasing U.S. influence globally.
China may be first and foremost in the crosshairs of such passive-aggressive relations because of the attention the new strategy gives to trade imbalances between the U.S. and other countries as well as “economic aggression.”
CNN reports the written strategy also makes clear that the U.S. is keeping a wary eye on Russian covert and overt information operation efforts to meddle in democracies, including social media, state media and third parties. Yet, President Trump did not reference Russia in further detail in his speech, instead choosing to remark on intelligence cooperation concerning the thwarted St. Petersburg plot.
CNN further reports that the new national security strategy also emphasizes the president’s conviction that economic security is national security and de-emphasizes climate change, instead substituting the latter with the “importance of environmental stewardship” as part of an “energy dominance” focus. Fox News notes how in his 2015 national security strategy document then-President Barack Obama declared climate change an “urgent and growing threat to our national security.”
Though counterterrorism will receive its own separate strategy in the near future, another pointed departure from the Obama administration on the broader national security strategy was Trump’s specific use of “jihadist” terror threats and “Islamist” terror groups.” It also emphasizes that the Trump administration’s approach to this national security issue will focus on offensive U.S. military efforts as well as de-radicalization efforts here at home in addition to addressing immigration and border security concerns. Or as Fox News notes President Trump phrased it, “continue pursuing them until they are destroyed.”
President Trump’s strategy also affirmed a US position of solidarity with Israel:
for generations the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region. Today, the threats from radical jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems. States have increasingly found common interests with Israel in confronting common threats.
Despite the emphasis on China and Russia, the “rogue regimes” of North Korea and Iran topped the list of threats to the U.S. whether over nuclear and missile concerns or terrorist ones.