WASHINGTON — President Trump’s first enunciation of his national security strategy today will build on his “America First” theme, focusing on the need for U.S. economic security, pressing China on trade and North Korea, and reversing some Obama-era policies, such as the previous administration’s declaration of climate change as a national security threat.
But for an administration that has vacillated in its first year on foreign policies — from the Iran nuclear deal, to the approach to Mideast peace, to its relationship with China — what the president says today is less important than what the administration will do moving forward, experts said.
“The strategy will be judged by the follow-through,” said Kelly Magsamen, vice president for National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress.
The 70-page national security document identifies three major threats to America’s security: Revisionist powers — including Russia — with views antithetical to American interests, rogue regimes like North Korea and terror organizations, and transnational criminal operations. The strategy will call for reforms to NATO and the United Nations, and advocate for free markets as a means to political stability, but will stress that the U.S. will not “impose our way of life on anyone,” a senior administration official said yesterday.
But the speech will also stress that America will work even with adversaries such as Russia when their interests align, White House officials said, citing yesterday’s call between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin after U.S. intelligence officials helped Russia thwart a terror plot.
The strategy won’t stray far from policies Trump has implemented or advocated in past speeches and tweets. But it will focus on what the White House sees as those who endanger America’s economic security.
“American’s economic security is national security,” a second senior administration official said yesterday. All officials spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“We will demand fair and reciprocal economic relationships around the world,” the official said, noting China will be labeled as a “strategic competitor.”
That will come at a cost to some Obama-era environmental polices seen as anti-competitive.
“Climate change is not identified as a national security threat,” a senior White House official said, “but climate in terms of the environment and environmental stewardship are discussed.”