On Monday, the White House released the new National Security Strategy (NSS), and despite officials having said in the lead-up to the release it would be a major break with the past, the changes appear largely to be within the rhetoric, not the specifics.
The new NSS relies heavily and repeatedly on the phrase “putting America first,” though in practice it still envisions soaring military spending and protracted overseas engagements as the ticket to American domestic safety and prosperity.
President Trump treated his speech on the NSS as a broad campaign speech, declaring himself a “glorious new hope” that America had embraced in the November 2016 election, cheering high stock market levels, and trumpeting his anti-immigration strategy.
On specific foreign policy, Trump vowed to see North Korea “handled,” and claimed progress was being made in the US war in Afghanistan, while condemning Pakistan and insisting they have to “do something.”
Trump portrayed the open-ended warfare as “competition,” suggesting that rogue nations were trying to pose a challenge to American prosperity through military engagement, and that America has to “earn” its prosperity through enhancing its power.
On the subject of “protecting the homeland,” Trump played heavily on the idea of building a border wall and increasing funding for border patrols. He also talked of defeating radical Islam on social media, though that too has been something administrations have been failing to do virtually from the establishment of social media.
Ultimately much of Trump’s economic strategy also appeared to be his military strategy, promising massive increases to the size of the military, creating “millions of jobs.” He also set out the idea of the military engaging further in “cyber,” as well as the further militarization of space, and protecting against unspecified electromagnetic attacks.
Despite so much emphasis being placed on “America first” within the document, the strategy itself appears extremely intervention-centric, resting on the assumption that American prosperity is inexorably linked to military superiority, and not just superiority by numbers, but the kind that the US has to prove constantly through warfare.