December 19, 2017

Trump's National Security Strategy Is Dead on Arrival

By Ilan Goldenberg

If a national security strategy is developed by well-meaning, capable advisers, who have little control over an undisciplined and unpredictable president, is it worth the paper it is written on? No.

The Trump administration has just released its much anticipated “National Security Strategy,” a document that can often play a useful role in outlining a president’s vision for the thousands of government employees implementing policy, the American public and America’s allies and adversaries.

But this foreign policy strategy is dead on arrival; it is plain impossible to execute such a strategy with a commander in chief who is neither capable of sticking to his word nor a believer in some of the document’s most important principles.

To understand why it is pure fantasy to believe that the National Security Strategy will drive policy in the Trump administration, one need only look at the pattern of the past year. On one key international initiative after another we see the same story. The president tasks his team with developing an approach; they pursue a serious and rigorous process that takes into account a broad range of expertise from across the U.S. government; and then Trump interjects, undercutting the entire plan either because of politics, his obsession with tearing down what President Barack Obama built or what he most recently saw on Fox & Friends. This makes it impossible to develop any meaningful, coherent, long-term approach to any difficult problem. Let’s examine some examples.

Read the full op-ed in Newsweek.

  • Commentary
    • March 27, 2020
    Sharper: Global Coronavirus Response

    As regions across the United States enforce states of emergency and a growing list of countries restrict travel, close schools, and quarantine citizens, the economic and human...

    By Chris Estep & Cole Stevens

  • Commentary
    • The Washington Post
    • March 19, 2020
    9/11 swallowed U.S. foreign policy. Don’t let the coronavirus do the same thing.

    For two decades, American foreign policy has been shaped by the 9/11 attacks. The catastrophic wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our failure to see the full threat posed by Russia...

    By Ilan Goldenberg

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Policy
    • March 6, 2020
    Big Ideas for NATO’s New Mission in Iraq

    Following U.S. President Donald Trump’s calls for America’s allies to “get more involved in the Middle East,” NATO defense ministers last month agreed to “enhance” the Atlanti...

    By David H. Petraeus & Vance Serchuk

  • Commentary
    • Defense One
    • February 21, 2020
    The American Public Wants a Sustainable Middle East Policy

    After the U.S. strike on Qasem Soleimani, Americans feared the United States was on the brink of war with Iran. “World War III draft” memes circulated around the internet, and...

    By Kaleigh Thomas & Emma Moore

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia