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
    • The National Interest
    • November 7, 2019
    Trump Needs to Reestablish Deterrence with Iran

    The attack attributed to Iran on Saudi Aramco oil facilities is the latest in a series of Iranian escalations—the May 14 and June 13 tanker attacks, the June 20 downing of a U...

    By Kaleigh Thomas & Elisa Catalano Ewers

  • Video
    • October 27, 2019
    Nicholas Heras on Killing of ISIS Leader in U.S. Military Raid

    The Center for a New American Security’s Nicholas Heras talked about the killing of ISIS founder and leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a U.S. military raid in Syria. Listen to th...

    By Nicholas Heras

  • Podcast
    • October 18, 2019
    Discussing Turkey’s Offensive Against the Kurds in Syria with Nick Heras

    The United States’ withdrawal and the Turkish military’s incursion into the Kurdish-controlled northeast have completely changed the balance of power in Syria. Without America...

    By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Jim Townsend & Nicholas Heras

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Affairs
    • October 15, 2019
    The Nonintervention Delusion

    Richard Fontaine addresses the most frequently expressed concerns about U.S. military interventions and concludes that the use of military force will remain a key component of...

    By Richard Fontaine

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia