Trump's security policy puts 'America first' in 'dangerous world'

By Allen Cone  |  Updated Dec. 18, 2017 at 8:32 PM
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President Donald Trump on Monday unveiled his new national security strategy that puts "America first" in "an extraordinarily dangerous world."

Hours before a speech at the Ronald Reagan Building, Trump released his 68-page foreign policy vision that lists threats from Iran, North Korea, Russia and China.

The president's 29-minute speech, which included several top military officials, weaved in his campaign, domestic themes, immigration enforcement and stronger military.

"You spoke loud and you spoke clear," Trump said. "On Nov. 8, you voted to make America great again. You embraced new leadership and new strategies and also a glorious new hope. ... But to seize the opportunities of the future, we must first understand the failures of the past."

In the speech, he said the strategy recognizes a "principled realism."

"Whether you like it or not, we are engaged in a new era of competition," he said. "We accept that vigorous military, economic and political contests are now playing out all around the world."

The document takes a stark look at problems around the world, including a nation run by a leader he has often praised: Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"The United States faces an extraordinarily dangerous world, filled with a wide range of threats that have intensified in recent years," the document said. "Too many Americans had lost trust in our government, faith in our future and confidence in our values."

The reports notes regimes are developing nuclear weapons and missiles "to threaten the entire planet" as well as "flourishing" terror groups and "rival powers undermining American interests around the globe." It also notes problems at home with "porous borders and unenforced immigration laws."

He said "unfair trade practices had weakened our economy and exported our jobs overseas."

Unlike the Obama administration, Trump doesn't list climate change as a national security threat.

Instead, the document criticizes the policies of past administrations and identifies four national interest "pillars."

"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," he said. "We will pursue this beautiful vision -- a world of strong, sovereign and independent nations, each with its own cultures and dreams, thriving side by-side in prosperity, freedom, and peace -- throughout the upcoming year.

"In pursuit of that future, we will look at the world with clear eyes and fresh thinking. We will promote a balance of power that favors the United States, our allies, and our partners. We will never lose sight of our values and their capacity to inspire, uplift and renew.

"Most of all, we will serve the American people and uphold their right to a government that prioritizes their security, their prosperity and their interests. This National Security Strategy puts America first."

The president in his speech and the document noted improvements after the first year in office with stronger borders, including plans for the wall along Mexico, as well as driving out terrorism with its partners and an improved economy with better trade policies.

"After one year, the world knows that America is prosperous, America is secure and America is strong," the document said.

Iran and North Korea have long been criticized by Trump but the document notes Russia and China "want to shape a world antithetical to U.S. values and interests."

According to the policy, Russia is "using information tools in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of democracies ... The American public and private sectors must recognize the threat and work together to defend our way of life."

The document also describes Russian aggression against its neighbors -- Georgia and Ukraine.

The document links Russia's "information operations" to a broader campaign to influence public opinion across the globe. That's despite the president not unequivocally saying Russian was behind interference of the 2016 presidential election.

The policy also described problems with China, saying it "is building the most capable and well-funded military in the world, after our own," including a "diversifying" nuclear arsenal.

"Land reclamation projects and militarization of the South China Seas flouts international law, threatens the free flow of trade and undermines stability," the document said. "China has mounted a rapid military modernization campaign designed to limit U.S. access to the region."

The strategy document doesn't include any use of the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism" but criticizes Pakistan's support for the Taliban.

The document calls NATO "one of our great advantages over our competitors" and urged European allies in NATO "to increase defense spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product by 2024."

The policy wants a robust State Department even though Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has yet to fill many key posts and a 30 percent budget cut has been proposed.

"We must upgrade our diplomatic capabilities to compete in the current environment and to embrace a competitive mindset," the document said. "Effective diplomacy requires the efficient use of limited resources, a professional diplomatic corps, modern and safe facilities, and secure methods to communicate and engage with local populations."

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