In the United States, a New National Security Strategy
A "must-read" document for analysts on both sides of the Atlantic has just emerged from the White House: the long-awaited Obama Administration National Security Strategy. This overarching statement of U.S. security priorities and perspectives is the first such effort since the Bush Administration issued its 2006 version. In the U.S. system, the National Security Strategy is a capstone document from which federal agencies draw guidance to issue an important range of policy guidance, including the Pentagon's National Defense Strategy and other signature documents. Some aspects of the Obama Administration's 52-page Strategy are not surprising.
There is a strong emphasis on multilateral approaches to problem solving, and repeated references to restoring core American values, like an emphasis on human rights, in national policy. Transatlantic allies will be buoyed by the multiple references to partnership. On page 41, for example, the Strategy notes: Our relationship with our European allies remains the cornerstone for U.S. engagement with the world, and a catalyst for international action. We will engage with our allies bilaterally, and pursue close consultation on a broad range of security and economic issues. For advocates of a key role for international development assistance, like me, the National Security Strategy strongly endorses the centrality of development in U.S. foreign policy, along with defense, diplomacy, and economic engagement more broadly. Perhaps the most striking feature of President Obama's document, however, is the breadth of approaches encompassed in the Strategy.
Although the Administration states directly that battling terrorism remains important, it is clear that the new document begins with a much broader view of national security than did predecessor policy documents. So, environmental issues, a strong U.S. domestic economy, and educational reform within the United States, among many other topics, are touched on. Some observers will, I suspect, applaud this broadening beyond military approaches, while others may well critique the National Security Strategy for aiming in too many directions.
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