February 06, 2015

CNAS Press Note: The National Security Strategy

Today, the Obama administration will release its first new National Security Strategy since May 2010. Coming late in the administration, nearly five years since the last version, the NSS will detail the administration’s approach to U.S. foreign and defense policy.
Much has changed since the last NSS: The Middle East has seen the Arab Awakening followed by a wicked turn towards repression and extremism. Russia has invaded Crimea and stirred up war in Eastern Ukraine, redrawing national borders and creating deep anxiety across Central and Eastern Europe. Strong nationalist leaders in China and India have ascended to power as all of Asia tries to balance dynamic economic growth with intensifying security competition. The list goes on.
Those drafting the strategy were no doubt grappling with a series of tough dilemmas. They include:
- How to address the rebalance to Asia amid regional crises in the Middle East and Europe?
- How to acknowledge counterterrorism victories but also the fact that the threat has in many ways become more challenging?
- How much should a new strategy prioritize liberal values and human rights?
- What should the NSS say about rising powers, particularly those that are showing an interest in replacing the U.S.-led order?
- How might the NSS set a comprehensive cyber agenda that could reestablish trust with skeptical allies, a skittish business community and an increasingly worried U.S. public?
To deal with those challenges, the new National Security Strategy must articulate a forward-looking approach that can guide U.S. policy through to the next administration. It must explain how the United States will lead in the world in the final years of the Obama presidency.

Ms. Smith and Mr. Stokes are available for interviews. To arrange an interview, please contact Neal Urwitz at [email protected] or call 202-457-9409.