The National Security Strategy as a Blueprint for the New Direction for America
By James S. Gilmore III, President and CEO, American Opportunity Foundation.
As we have stated in previous essays, America today is in a world-wide conflict to determine how mankind will live in the years ahead. This conflict engages all aspects of national power: military, economic, diplomatic, and the competition of values. Parts 1-5 of this series of essays can be accessed on online at American Opportunity.
Often we think of economics, defense, and diplomacy in separate categories or stovepipes. The truth is that all elements of national power work together to further the goal and mission of any national policy. The Trump administration is seeking to align all parts of government activity toward one unified mission: the security and prosperity of the American people.
The new National Security Strategy (NSS) announced in December 2017 emphasizes the role of all parts of our country’s national policy working together. The NSS reaches beyond traditional concepts of military preparedness, and combines all levels of the nation for national security. When the NSS is read, the initiatives of the Trump administration come into focus as a unified whole.
The national security of the U.S. as set out in the NSS is said to rest on four pillars:
- Pillar I protects the Homeland, its borders, and recognizes threats from international criminal and terrorist organizations.
- Pillar II of the National Security Strategy calls for economic growth, fair and reciprocal trade agreements, energy dominance, and fostering technology and innovation.
- Pillar III covers the traditional strength of America through its military, industrial base, space, cyberspace, intelligence, and diplomacy.
- Pillar IV calls for advancing American influence and values through present and prospective allies and international organizations.
For these reasons the NSS is much more than a military strategy. For instance, Pillar II of the NSS directly addresses the need for economic strength, as part of an entire national strategy. The lead statement by President Trump is “economic security is national security.” Pillar II goes on to state “a strong economy protects the American people, supports our way of life, and sustains American power.”.
We here at American Opportunity/Free Congress Foundation have been advocating that economic growth become a national priority. Our Growth Code published in 2010 recommends a tax reform package for economic growth similar to the one recently passed by Congress this year.
The tax cuts and jobs measure passed in 2018 is one element of the new economic policy set out in the NSS. The tax reform legislation recently passed is designed to spur investment in our country and economic growth and job creation. The infrastructure proposal is another element yet to come of the overall new policy.
Recent headlines have drawn attention to new trade policies of the Trump Administration. The U.S. has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with an offer to renegotiate. Likewise, The Trump Administration has entered into new discussions with Mexico and Canada, our largest trade partners, to re-negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Tariffs are being imposed on China and other countries to level the playing field in trade transactions.
Trade policy does not stand alone. It is a part of The Trump administration’s new economic policy for the United States as set out in the NSS with far different objectives than previous administrations, Republican and Democrat. The new economic objective is strengthening the United States and the prosperity of working class Americans in every condition no matter what their background.
One example of America’s new thinking in the NSS is a focus on China’s economic and trade policies. China’s economy is heavily controlled by their central government. For instance, if American businesses seek to enter the Chinese market, China demands that they turn over proprietary intellectual property. Often such information is stolen.
Why? For Chinese profit — to allow them to catch up to the West quickly and to make China independent if they generate a conflict with the West. Massive Chinese trade surpluses from the U.S. are being used to finance military aggression in the South China Sea and beyond. These trade surpluses finance “belt and road” initiatives to gather less developed countries under the Chinese economic umbrella.
Many pessimists claim that China — with its large population — will overtake the U.S. economy and surpass us. Chinese dominance in the future is not necessarily inevitable. Our national policy should be to build up our GDP to $25 trillion as soon as possible and extend the benefits of growth to working Americans everywhere. Such growth would also give notice to the Chinese government that their national goals need readjustment to harmonize with others in the world.
Many of these same detractors will criticize the new American economic policy as “America First.” President Trump has stated as such, but putting America First does not mean America Alone.
Our goal must be fair and reciprocal trading policies with all other nations, but we should not purchase friends by placing our own citizens at a disadvantage. Trade is not a zero-sum game with only winners and losers. Everyone can benefit from fair and equal treatment in the world marketplace, but fair trade will not come to be without American leadership.
The NSS is not only a military plan, but a comprehensive roadmap in all aspects of public policy. The directions and initiatives are new and provide a path of true security and prosperity for all Americans. Readers with experience in trade issues may wish to add further comments or may wish to agree or disagree with the American Opportunity position. We invite them to comment.