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Strategic patience is dead — long live America first

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As President Trump unveiled our nation’s new national security strategy today, it is apparent that it is unlike any national security strategy we have seen since the end of the Cold War. After we won that ideological conflict the day the Berlin Wall was breached on Nov. 9, 1989, we began a steady decline in our capacity to think and act strategically.

That decline has ended.

The 1990s were dominated by an astrategic focus on “peace dividends” without a focus on what national security meant without a Soviet Union or Warsaw Pact to focus our attention. After 9/11, the Bush White House followed an incredibly ahistoric and naive neoconservative policy based upon the idea that American-style representative government could be imposed, at the end of a gun barrel, on countries like Afghanistan and Iraq.

{mosads}Most recently, the Obama years saw our foreign and defense policies contained under frameworks such as “leading from behind” or the doctrine of “strategic patience,” which saw America as the problem, and a drive to let other nations shape the global reality. This led, for example, to peculiar events such as President Obama’s so-called “apology tour,” whereby the president the United States bracketed his foreign policy within a message focused on our past faults, not the eternal values upon which the republic was founded. All this will change now.


I spent most of this year as strategist to the president, and sat in on the various meetings the National Security Council held on key facets of the impending national security strategy. Being there “at the creation,” and realizing just how groundbreaking the new strategy is, allow me to highlight the crucial changes that were rung in today by the commander in chief.

Firstly, this document was crafted by a team, led by the very able Nadia Schadlow, and will be presented by a president who admires what this nation stands for and is not afraid to say so. In fact, the opening of the national security strategy is explicit to this end, as it talks of the principles, traditions and institutions we will defend that make America “the nation that we love.” We will do so unapologetically.

This national security strategy is founded on a mantra of “America first” — not “America alone” — under which the president and his White House reassert the Judeo-Christian values of the republic and the ties that bind us to those who share those values, be they countries in Europe, such as Poland, or countries in the Middle East, such as Israel. (In this regard the national security strategy echoes key elements of the pivotal speeches President Trump has already made in Warsaw and Jerusalem.)

However, the strategy is also informed by the concept of “principled Realism,” meaning, America will look at the world as it is, not as we would wish it to be based upon some ideological filter. As a result, we will not go looking to force our political system on others, or become entangled in foolish and costly foreign adventures. But we will talk honestly about the threats we do face and the actions that must be taken now to secure all Americans against said threats.

This means that we will no longer censor ourselves when it comes to the nature of the terrorists who wish to kill us. The national security strategy talks in an unvarnished fashion about the threat of “jihadism” and those who wish to impose “sharia” law upon us. It is clear about the dire need to fix our immigration system, not just as an economic issue but as a national security issue, as illustrated by the two recent attacks in New York, perpetrated by the beneficiaries of the diversity visa lottery program and chain migration.

Likewise, the president’s new national security strategy pulls no punches as to which nations represent a threat to regional or global security, and which nations are actively undermining America’s national interests today. The focus here, beyond the theocratic regime of Iran, empowered in part by the last administration’s Iran deal, and the imminent threat posed by a belligerent North Korea, is upon Russia and China, to which the strategy dedicates sizable sections.

Russia is not a threat of the magnitude that the Soviet Union was, but the president recognizes it as an anti-status quo actor which wishes to destabilize numerous regions of the world to its own benefit. (Under this, the national security strategy also rightly focuses on the very aggressive use Moscow has made of propaganda and information operations, including against us here in the United States.)

When it comes to China, the threat posed is obvious to those who care to look, and the president makes the case. Beijing has a declared plan to displace America as a global force for good and to itself become a global hegemon in time for the 100th anniversary of the 1949 revolution that founded the communist regime. This “One Belt One Road” strategy includes the use of economic warfare and subversion, the exploitation of our visa system to insert “non-traditional” intelligence collectors into sensitive institutions here in America, and the wholesale theft of American technology and intellectual property.

Subsequently, the new U.S. national security strategy calls for an across-the-board review of our immigration policies that goes beyond the recent travel moratorium from states with a terror threat, and an aggressive investigation of China’s covert activities here in the United States, followed by the requisite policy and trade response.

Whether the threats to our nation are physical or economic, overt or political, they will be met head on and in a way that makes it clear that a world without America leadership is a dangerous world and that in a world in which American leadership is reasserted, all people of good faith and good conscience can profit and be more secure.

To paraphrase a certain Marine Corps division that has supplied a disproportionately high number of current cabinet members and senior Trump officials, “America: No better friend. No worse enemy.”

Sebastian Gorka Ph.D. is the author of the New York Times bestseller “Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War” and former deputy assistant and strategist to President Trump. Follow him on Twitter @SebGorka.

Tags Donald Trump Foreign policy National security Sebastian Gorka White House

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