President Trump’s National Security Strategy (NSS), which was unveiled during a televised speech on Monday afternoon, labels domestic missile defense a “priority action.”
The 67-page document describes a layered missile defense system that will focus on the growing threats from North Korea and Iran. “This system will include the ability to defeat missile threats prior to launch. Enhanced missile defense will not undermine strategic stability or disrupt longstanding strategic relationships with Russia or China.”
The strategy, which is mandated by the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Department Reorganization Act of 1986, urges our European allies to increase defense spending in order to boost their own missile defense systems and promises that the Trump Administration will “work with NATO.”
The NSS also highlights threats from non-state actors, such as ISIS, and the possibility that these groups could acquire weapons of mass destruction.
The document is particularly critical of China and Russia, which are referred to as “revisionist powers” that 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.”
The document cites weapons development in China and Russia as one of the reasons we must renew our focus on missile defense, but it also emphasizes the need to cooperate with these powers.
Considering Trump’s friendly relationships with the Chinese and Russian Presidents, many are wondering if the document’s criticism of these two countries comes not from Trump but from his national security team. Drafting of the NSS was overseen by National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. HR McMaster and one of his deputies, Nadia Schadlow. As reported by CNN on Monday night, one White House adviser said he “can’t say” that Trump has read every line of the NSS.
According to McMaster, the main themes of the strategy are:
• Protecting the homeland and the American way of life
• Promoting American prosperity
• Demonstrating peace through strength
• Advancing American influence in a competitive world
Trump’s NSS comes early in his administration and gives the White House an opportunity to define views that have at times appeared contradictory.
The document casts the GOP tax overhaul as essential in strengthening the US as an economic and military power. It defines homeland security to include the protection of intellectual property rights and calls to tighten the requirements for granting visas to suspected intelligence agents. The language of the draft equates economic security with national security and insists that national security be ensured through military might.
The NSS also pushes for measures that would help the US achieve “energy dominance,” such as easing back regulations on energy production and avoiding climate change policies that are detrimental to economic growth. This is a big shift from the last NSS, prepared by Obama in 2015, which referred to climate change as an “urgent and growing threat to our national security.”
In response to concerns raised by the document’s criticism of China, senior officials assured reporters that the Trump Administration views China not as an adversary, but as a strategic competitor.
“The next few months will determine how well the Trump Administration can maintain that balance act,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “While the Administration has so far taken little economic action against China, officials have over the past year laid the groundwork for measures that could be implemented fairly quickly in coming months.”
In August, Trump suggested an investigation into complaints that China pressures foreign companies to hand over intellectual property in exchange for participating in their economy.
Editor’s note: To me it seems Trump’s team is hitting its stride.