Trump's actions undermine his 'protect the homeland' objective

Trump's actions undermine his 'protect the homeland' objective
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President TrumpDonald TrumpBlinken holds first calls as Biden's secretary of State Senators discussing Trump censure resolution Dobbs: Republicans lost in 2020 because they 'forgot who was the true leader' MORE released the details of his National Security Strategy (NSS) on Dec. 18, outlining “America First” priorities that will drive U.S. domestic and foreign policy. Again, he has favored politics over policy.

His insistence on delivering campaign promises rather than crafting coherent policies is putting America’s national security last, and it continues to damage our standing in the international community. The strategy is based on four pillars aimed at countering threats to the nation. 

1. Protect the American people, the Homeland, and the American way of life

Trump’s NSS sheds America’s image as a climate-change leader, deciding that climate change is not a national security threat. This is consistent with his previous actions on climate change, including withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, making the U.S. the only country opposed to it.

This is a notable change from the 2015 National Security Strategy, which described climate change as an “urgent and growing threat to our national security.” By eliminating climate change as a national security threat, the Trump administration is ignoring domestic, international and scientific consensus on the issue. 


In a similar departure from the 2015 NSS, which considered immigration as a strength of our economy and pluralism, Trump’s strategy identifies immigration as a national security threat by mentioning it several times and using rhetoric to scapegoat immigrant communities for America's economic struggles.  


Specifically, Trump’s strategy includes many of his divisive campaign promises, including a southern border wall and the elimination of family-based immigration policies. These proposals are not policy considerations to make our nation safe. 

If Trump continues to antagonize the very communities he needs to keep our nation safe, then he will continue to create national security policies that are ineffective at best and counterproductive at worst.

2. Promote American prosperity

Trump argues that economic security is national security: “A strong economy protects the American people, supports our way of life, and sustains American power.” On tax reform, he claimed that he worked with Congress to create a “simpler, fairer, and pro-growth tax code that encourages the creation of higher-wage jobs and gives middle-income families tax relief.” 

In previous policy analysis, we agreed that, “there is no doubt that tax reform is needed in the United States. The current tax code is full of endless provisions and loopholes that provide tax shelters and savings to those least in need of them.

"But the Trump administration’s proposal is not tax policy reform. It is a tax break for the wealthiest of the wealthy, one that has no moral or just basis. From a faith-based perspective, tax reform should put the most vulnerable at the forefront while seeking to distribute wealth according to what is moral and what is just.”

 3. Preserve peace through strength  

On diplomacy, Trump believes that “America’s diplomats are our forward-deployed political capability, advancing and defending America’s interests abroad.” However, actions speak louder than words.

Not only does the president continue to undermine Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonSenate to vote Tuesday on Biden's secretary of State pick Biden must wait weekend for State Department pick Tillerson: 'We squandered the best opportunity we had on North Korea' MORE, but he has proposed a 31-percent cut to the State Department. Trump also frequently attacks the intelligence community's skills and integrity — recently claiming that the FBI’s reputation is in tatters.  

The president cannot preserve peace through strength when he continues to attack our intelligence and diplomatic communities. The strength of America’s partnerships with its allies continues to weaken under the president.

Trump cannot unilaterally execute his NSS agenda, as he requires the cooperation of federal agencies and departments. We must ensure a robust and supported career civil service and diplomatic corps in order to further an effective national security strategy. 

 4. Advance American influence 

Domestically, Trump has ignored the threats posed by right-wing and white-supremacist extremists. He continues to focus on specific threats rather than all threats. It is no surprise that many Americans believe he aligns himself with neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Trump’s messaging has emboldened his white-nationalist supporters to act violently against other Americans.

Internationally, Prince Turki al-Faisal, former Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., sharply criticized Trump's unilateral decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and told him that Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceSenators discussing Trump censure resolution House formally sends impeachment to Senate, putting Trump on trial for Capitol riot Biden White House to resume COVID-19 briefings with health officials MORE’s upcoming trip to the Middle East should not include Saudi Arabia, as he will not be welcome. 

A Pew Research Center poll showed that America's global image under Trump has plummeted. If Trump can’t even manage the already existing partner relationships we have with our global allies, how will he “advance American interests?”

Ultimately, Trump's national security strategy is divorced from reality. If he plans on using both domestic and international partners in the fight to keep the homeland and global community safe, then he must stop antagonizing our partners and create a more collaborative, realistic strategy. 

Ryan Ahari is a policy analyst with the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a national American Muslim advocacy and public policy organization.