New National Security Strategy strikes 'competitive' tone

By Tony Bertuca  
December 18, 2017 at 12:05 PM

President Trump's new National Security Strategy emphasizes global competition and the importance of U.S. prosperity "without apology," according to a copy of the document obtained by Inside Defense.

“My administration’s National Security Strategy lays out a strategic vision for protecting the American people and preserving our way of life, promoting our prosperity, preserving peace through strength, and advancing American influence in the world,” Trump writes in an introductory statement to the NSS.

The document states that the United States will seek strong partnerships with allies, but notes that traditional engagement with rival states must be reexamined.

“These competitions require the United States to rethink the policies of the past two decades -- policies based on the assumption that engagement with rivals and their inclusion in international institutions and global commerce would turn them into benign actors and trustworthy partners,” the document states. “For the most part, this premise turned out to be false.”

Senior administration officials who briefed reporters Sunday said the strategy stresses partnerships with allies and the importance of international cooperation, but the document also discusses "competitive" relationships.

"We do live in a global competition," said one official, who added that the United States "will demand fair and reciprocal economic relationships around the world."

The strategy also calls out China for systematically stealing the intellectual property of U.S. companies and labs.

“Every year, competitors such as China steal U.S. intellectual property valued at hundreds of billions of dollars,” the document states. “We welcome all economic relationships rooted in fairness, reciprocity, and faithful adherence to the rules. Those who join this pursuit will be our closest economic partners. But the United States will no longer turn a blind eye to violations, cheating, or economic aggression.”

The strategy calls for increased defense spending to modernize the U.S. arsenal and build force structure, but warns of the skyrocketing national debt.

“The national debt, now over $20 trillion, presents a grave threat to America’s long-term prosperity and, by extension, our national security,” the document states. “By restraining federal spending, making government more efficient, and by modernizing our tax system and making our businesses globally competitive, our economy will grow and make the existing debt more serviceable.”

Republicans are set to pass a massive tax overhaul that will add $1.4 trillion to the national debt, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Some experts worry that the debt load could squeeze national security spending.

The strategy highlights the U.S. commitment to “layered missile defense” with the ability to defeat missile threats prior to launch.

“The United States is deploying a layered missile defense system focused on North Korea and Iran to defend our homeland against missile attacks,” the document states. “Enhanced missile defense is not intended to undermine strategic stability or disrupt longstanding strategic relationships with Russia or China.”

The strategy also makes clear the United States will be “selective” when it comes to developing partners and allies, seeking to shift away from the current model of grants to one that involves private sector investment.

“The United States will shift away from a reliance on assistance based on grants to approaches that attract private capital and catalyze private sector activity,” the strategy states. “We will emphasize reforms that unlock the economic potential of citizens, such as the promotion of formal property rights, entrepreneurial reforms, and infrastructure improvements -- projects that help people earn their livelihood and have the added benefit of helping U.S. businesses.”