President Trump’s new National Security Strategy puts his doctrine of America First into play. It covers all facets of U.S. security foreign policy and crystalizes the themes the president campaigned on and put into play during his first year in office. I’ve discussed the new strategy with White House national security leaders, and it is a pleasant change from eight years of cringing capitulation and leading from behind.
It is an accomplishment to produce such an important document in the first year of a new Administration. Obama did not release one until year three of his time in the Oval Office. And more importantly, this strategy was developed with input from all relevant agencies and there is a consensus that it articulates the animating themes they will use to plan and conduct all of their operations.
America First is the way President Trump describes returning to our longstanding role as leader of the free world and an unapologetic pursuit of goals that benefit the United States and the American people. Of course, we remain citizens of the world and cognizant of the need to take that into account. But the purpose of this nation, and the government we built, is to secure the blessings of liberty for our citizens. Fortunately for the rest of the world, what is good for the U.S. is also generally beneficial to others as well.
Another major theme is principled realism which has been the topic of much discussion and sniping throughout this first year. As practiced by President Trump, the realism involves putting American interests first, but not at the risk of abandoning the principles that make our country great. So yes, we will make alliances of convenience with countries who do not have stellar human rights records. This will be done in coordinated pursuit of larger goals that benefit us while applying pressure to push for positive changes in others.
An example of this realism was officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and starting to move our Embassy there. It is their capital, and a 1995 U.S. law required this action, but three successive Presidents failed to make it happen. President Trump decided we will no longer play into the Palestinian delusion they would someday change this and drive the Israelis from Jerusalem and out of Israel completely. Now peace talks can proceed from a realistic view that Israel exists and its capital is Jerusalem.
Another major theme is returning America to a competitive status. It seems odd that we should have to do that, but the globalist agenda pursued by Obama made America not just one country among many, but a country trying to make amends for being the most powerful and productive in history. We have nothing to apologize for and we have every right to pursue goals that benefit the people of the United States. We will not do so by treating others unfairly, but by fairly advancing the national interests of this country.
President Trump stated this directly in his first address to a joint session of Congress,
“My job is not to represent the world; my job is to represent the United States of America.”
This is not abandoning our role as a leader in positive changes around the world. It is an understanding that we will not subordinate U.S. interests to any organization, entity, or other nation. We will expect groups we belong to, like the United Nations, to produce outcomes that positively affect the security and prosperity of American citizens. Where they do not, we will move to change them. This is the essence of America First, a strong country that serves its own people and in doing so makes the world a safer and better place for all.