Issue Brief

The US National Security Strategy: Implications for the Indo-Pacific

in Program

On December 18, 2017, the Trump administration issued its National Security Strategy (NSS). Organized under four main principles — protect the homeland, promote American prosperity, preserve peace through strength, and advance American influence — the document provides a much-needed window into the administration’s vision of how it wants to shape U.S. engagement with the rest of the world. Referring to itself as “America First National Security Strategy,” the document is also the very first attempt to translate President Donald Trump’s campaign promise of “America First” into national strategic goals.

Although continuing to uphold (at least rhetorically) the importance of an all-of-government approach to pursue U.S. strategic goals, the NSS also clearly reflects the unique, “disruptive” nature of the Trump administration. It questions conventional wisdom, based on which past administrations, both Republicans and Democrats, have shaped their national strategies since the end of the Cold War, and criticizes it as “strategic complacency.” Such assumptions include past administrations’ aspirational approach to China and Iran — seeking to shape them into “responsible stakeholders” by engaging them — taking American military supremacy for granted, and the long-held belief in democratic peace. In this context, the NSS also honestly admits the complexity of national security challenges the United States faces.

This article was originally published in The Diplomat on December 21, 2018. Read the full article here.

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