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US reveals new national security strategy

December 18, 2017

President Donald Trump has unveiled a new national security strategy, saying "we will stand up for ourselves and ... our country." The strategy echoed the message of his 2016 campaign, promising to place "America First."

A view of the US-Mexican border fence at Playas de Tijuana on January 27, 2017 in Tijuana, Mexico
Image: Getty Images/J.Sullivan

President Donald Trump has said the US is in a "new era of competition" on the world stage as he unveiled the details of his administration's national security strategy on Monday.

"With this strategy, we are calling for a great reawakening of America, a resurgence of confidence, and a rebirth of patriotism, prosperity and pride," Trump said of the 68-page document.

The strategy from the Republican president could sharply alter US international relationships if fully implemented. It focuses on four main themes: protecting the homeland, promoting American prosperity, demonstrating peace through strength and advancing American influence in an ever-competitive world.

Trump faulted previous US leaders for failing to look out for the nation's citizens. He promised to seek openings to cooperate with rivals, but added that "we will stand up for ourselves and we will stand up for our country like we have never stood up before."

Trump said the security strategy would end mandatory defense spending limits, frequently called "sequester," but did not mention if he had consulted with members of Congress about a possible bill to end the caps established in 2013 budget legislation.

"We recognize that weakness is the surest path to conflict and unrivaled power is the most certain means of defense. For this reason, our security strategy breaks from damaging defense sequester," Trump said. "We're going to get rid of that."

Read more: Analysis — Trump's national security strategy: 'Don't read too much into it'

Attempts to 'erode American security'

The strategy detailed the threats of "rogue regimes" such as North Korea, and said both China and Russia "challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity."

It noted that "actors such as Russia are using information tools in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of democracies."

Trump said Washington had to deal with the challenge posed by North Korea's weapons programs.

Read more: US, Japan and South Korea host joint missile tracking drills

The document cited emerging opportunities to advance American interests in the Middle East. "Some of our partners are working together to reject radical ideologies and key leaders are calling for a rejection of Islamist extremism and violence," it said. "Encouraging political stability and sustainable prosperity would contribute to dampening the conditions that fuel sectarian grievances."

The strategy document asserted that "for generations the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region."

Read more: US vetoes UN vote for withdrawal of Trump Jerusalem decision

"Today, the threats from radical jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region's problems. States have increasingly found common interests with Israel in confronting common threats."

The document also called on Pakistan to take decisive action against terrorism.

Tillerson calls out China and Russia over North Korea

Border security, climate change

"We cannot secure our nation if we do not secure our borders," Trump said, reiterating his long-standing call to build a wall along the US border with Mexico and make changes to US immigration policy.  The national security strategy, however, has traditionally focused on US defense and other foreign policy matters.

Trump pledged to end "chain migration" of immigrants' relatives and to close "loopholes that undermine enforcement" of immigration restrictions.

Read more: Who will build Trump's long-promised border wall?

The last national security document, prepared by President Barack Obama in 2015, declared climate change an "urgent and growing threat to our national security." The Trump plan has removed that determination, following the administration's promise to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

Instead, the strategy sets a goal of being an "energy-dominant nation" and says the United States "recognizes the importance of environmental stewardship."

law/cmk (AFP, AP, Reuters)