Trump's NatSec Strategy: Economic Security Is National Security

President Donald Trump took an unusual step Monday and publicly unveiled his National Security Strategy in a formal speech in downtown Washington, D.C. According to senior administration officials, presidents are mandated to develop a policy guiding national security, but Trump felt strongly that he wanted to take the rare step of presenting the document to the public. (Video here)

The strategy, according to senior administration officials, “affirms the belief that America’s economic security is national security.” In a general sense, it links economic prosperity to national security, and re-envisions (without necessarily overturning) some of the policy objectives of the Obama administration. It has four pillars, or “vital interests”:

  • Protecting the homeland and the American people (calls for the construction of a wall along the Southern border, an end to chain migration, and the visa lottery. It also emphasizes renewed support for ICE officers and Homeland security personnel)
  • Promoting American prosperity (specifically protecting the newly coined “national security innovation base”. Ir recognizes that economic security is national security and focuses on cutting taxes and rolling back unnecessary regulations. It pushes fair trade practices and a rebuilding of the American infrastructure while evaluating a path toward American energy dominance)
  • Preserving peace through strength (eliminating the defense sequester and a modernization of the military by ending the policy of shrinking defense personnel; also outlines the need for a multi-layered missile defense plan)
  • Advancing American influence (which includes new approaches to development of defense-related programs; also places an emphasis on the private sector role in national security, and emphasizes investment in national security as opposed to a “grants-giving mentality”)

Trump began his speech with a not-so-subtle jab at the Obama administration by acknowledging that the American people, in electing him, had rejected the failures of the past.

“We are once again investing in our defense,” Trump said.

He also noted that, in preparation for his defense strategy — which he said had been a year in the making — he has withdrawn from previous “bad deals,” such as the Transpacific Partnership and the Paris Climate Accord. The president mentioned his belief in tougher immigration vetting, his decision to impose sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp, and his decision not to certify the Obama-led Iran deal.

“We know that American success is NOT a forgone conclusion,” Trump said. “It must be earned and it must be won. Our rivals are tough, tenacious, and committed to the long term. And so are we. To succeed, we must integrate every dimension of our national strength – and we must compete with every instrument of our national power…With the strategy I am announcing today, we are declaring that America is in the game and America is determined to win.”

The strategy, according to administration officials, also attempts to reassert Trump’s vision that sovereign nations, while allowed and expected to protect their own interests, should also be engaged in finding ways to develop partnerships to ensure they are mutually protected. The strategy unveils a clear direction that does not seek to impose Democracy on nations that do not embrace democracy as a political ideology, nor does it outline a way to “impose [the American] way of life” on those countries.

“But we will champion our values without apology,” the President said. “America is coming back, and America is coming back strong.”