Michael KreponTrump’s National Security Strategy Revisited

Lyric of the week:

Don’t you ever be sad
Lean on me, when times are bad
When the day comes and you’re down
In a river of trouble and about to drown
Just hold on, I’m comin’
Hold on, I’m comin’
–Sam and Dave, “Hold On, I’m Coming” (Motown classic and possible Joe Biden rally tune)

Donald Trump’s words have immediacy but little lasting import. He bets the over and under on most issues of the day; that way, he can always point to something he said when things go sideways.

Some basic themes survive the zigs and zags. Trump truly believes in America First and he resists entangling military actions like bank loans that become due that he can’t repay. He avoids responsibility like the plague. He’s a numbers guy, but the disease has displaced Dow Jones and has become his bottom line.

His ego knows no bounds. He has elevated transactionalism to new levels, to include running for President while welcoming help from Russia and seeking it from Ukraine. He handles the truth as if it were his ex-lady companions — keeping his distance, acting in denial, aggressively and warily at one and the same time.

His administration’s guiding documents don’t guide. They are ephemera, reflections of a moment and a temporary supporting cast. Have a look back at his December 2017 National Security Strategy of the United States. Here are some snippets. Read it and weep.

An America First National Security Strategy is based on American principles, a clear-eyed assessment of U.S. interests, and a determination to tackle the challenges that we face. It is a strategy of principled realism that is guided by outcomes, not ideology.

Our fundamental responsibility is to protect the American people, the homeland, and the American way of life.

We will advance American influence because a world that supports American interests and reflects our values makes America more secure and prosperous. We will compete and lead in multilateral organizations so that American interests and principles are protected.

Naturally emerging outbreaks of viruses such as Ebola and SARS, as well as the deliberate 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States, demonstrated the impact of biological threats on national security by taking lives, generating economic losses, and contributing to a loss of confidence in government institutions… At home, we will strengthen our emergency response and unified coordination systems to rapidly characterize outbreaks, implement public health containment measures to limit the spread of disease, and provide surge medical care—including life-saving treatments.

The United States will improve its ability to assess the threats and hazards that pose the greatest risks to Americans and will prioritize resources based on the highest risks.

This Administration will take steps to build a culture of preparedness, informing and empowering communities and individuals to obtain the skills and take the preparatory actions necessary to become more resilient against the threats and hazards that Americans face.

Across the competitive landscape, America’s diplomats are our forward-deployed political capability, advancing and defending America’s interests abroad.

Diplomacy is indispensable to identify and implement solutions to conflicts in unstable regions of the world short of military involvement.

We must upgrade our diplomatic capabilities to compete in the current environment and to embrace a competitive mindset.

We will continue to champion American values and offer encouragement to those struggling for human dignity in their societies.

The United States will deepen collaboration with our European allies and partners to confront forces threatening to undermine our common values, security interests, and shared vision. The United States and Europe will work together to counter Russian subversion and aggression


  1. brian ahn (History)

    4 years ago, I supported Trump, not now

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