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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

New National Security Strategy Focuses on China’s Power, Russia’s ‘Immediate and Persistent Threat’

Strategy was supposed to be released earlier this year, but the administration "thought it would be imprudent" to release it right after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The new National Security Strategy released by the White House today singles out China as “the only competitor with both the intent to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to do it,” while stressing that Russia “now poses an immediate and persistent threat to international peace and stability.”

“The world is at an inflection point and the choices we make today will set the terms on how we are set up to deal with the significant challenges and the significant opportunities we face in the years ahead,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters this morning before the release of the strategy. “That’s really what this National Security Strategy is all about.”

“The fundamental premise of the strategy is that we have entered a decisive decade with respect to two fundamental strategic challenges,” Sullivan added. “The first is the competition between the major powers to shape the future of the international order. And the second is that while this competition is underway, we need to deal with a set of transnational challenges that are affecting people everywhere, including here in the United States — from climate change to food insecurity, to communicable diseases, to terrorism, to the energy transition, to inflation.”

Sullivan emphasized the need to “invest in the underlying sources and tools of American power and influence, especially our strength here at home, both for the purpose of effective competition and for the purpose of being set up to rally the world to solve shared challenges,” and to “build the strongest possible coalition of nations to enhance our collective influence, both to shape the global strategic environment and to address these transnational threats that require cooperation to succeed.”

In addition to discussing investments in national power and modernizing the military, the National Security Strategy outlines global priorities — including “out-competing China and constraining Russia,” climate and energy security, pandemics and biodefense, arms control, and security cyberspace — and regional priorities of promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific, deepening the U.S. alliance with Europe, fostering democracy and “shared prosperity” in the Western Hemisphere, supporting “de-escalation and integration in the Middle East,” building “21st Century U.S.-Africa partnerships,” maintaining a peaceful Arctic, and protecting sea, air, and space.

“Beijing has ambitions to create an enhanced sphere of influence in the Indo-Pacific and to become the world’s leading power. It is using its technological capacity and increasing influence over international institutions to create more permissive conditions for its own authoritarian model, and to mold global technology use and norms to privilege its interests and values,” the strategy says. “Beijing frequently uses its economic power to coerce countries. It benefits from the openness of the international economy while limiting access to its domestic market, and it seeks to make the world more dependent on the PRC while reducing its own dependence on the world. The PRC is also investing in a military that is rapidly modernizing, increasingly capable in the Indo-Pacific, and growing in strength and reach globally – all while seeking to erode U.S. alliances in the region and around the world.”

The strategy for China is “1) to invest in the foundations of our strength at home – our competitiveness, our innovation, our resilience, our democracy, 2) to align our efforts with our network of allies and partners, acting with common purpose and in common cause, and 3) compete responsibly with the PRC to defend our interests and build our vision for the future.”

The first two elements “are essential to outcompeting the PRC in the technological, economic, political, military, intelligence, and global governance domains,” the document states.

“Competition with the PRC is most pronounced in the Indo-Pacific, but it is also increasingly global,” the NSS continues. “Around the world, the contest to write the rules of the road and shape the relationships that govern global affairs is playing out in every region and across economics, technology, diplomacy, development, security, and global governance. In the competition with the PRC, as in other arenas, it is clear that the next ten years will be the decisive decade. We stand now at the inflection point, where the choices we make and the priorities we pursue today will set us on a course that determines our competitive position long into the future.”

Sullivan said the United States will “not try to divide the world into rigid blocks,” and is not “seeking to have competition tip over into confrontation or a new Cold War.”

The strategy was supposed to be released earlier this year, but Sullivan said the administration “thought it would be imprudent” to release it during “such a fast-moving and consequential moment” with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, when “it was really unclear exactly what direction that war would take to go out with the strategy.”

“And, frankly, in February, there were a whole lot of people who thought the war would be over rapidly and Russia would be in a much better position than it is in today,” he added. “…I think what the nuclear threats and saber-rattling we’ve seen from Russia remind us of is just what a significant and seriously dangerous adversary Russia is — not just to the United States but to a world that is seeking peace and stability, and now has seen that flagrantly disrupted by this invasion and now by all of the saber-rattling.”

The National Security Strategy emphasizes that Russia’s “full-scale invasion of Ukraine in an attempt to topple its government and bring it under Russian control… did not come out of the blue; it was preceded by Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine, its military intervention in Syria, its longstanding efforts to destabilize its neighbors using intelligence and cyber capabilities, and its blatant attempts to undermine internal democratic processes in countries across Europe, Central Asia, and around the world.”

“Russia has also interfered brazenly in U.S. politics and worked to sow divisions among the American people,” it continues. “And Russia’s destabilizing actions are not limited to the international arena. Domestically, the Russian government under President Putin violates its citizens’ human rights, suppresses its opposition, and shutters independent media. Russia now has a stagnant political system that is unresponsive to the needs of its people.”

The strategy says NATO Allies are essential to “strengthening our defense and deterrence, particularly on the eastern flank of the Alliance,” and “welcoming Finland and Sweden to NATO will further improve our security and capabilities.”

“And we are renewing our focus on bolstering our collective resilience against shared threats from Russia, including asymmetric threats,” it states. “More broadly, Putin’s war has profoundly diminished Russia’s status vis-a-vis China and other Asian powers such as India and Japan. Moscow’s soft power and diplomatic influence have waned, while its efforts to weaponize energy have backfired. The historic global response to Russia’s war against Ukraine sends a resounding message that countries cannot enjoy the benefits of global integration while trampling on the core tenets of the UN Charter.”

The United States “will continue to support Ukraine in its fight for its freedom” while helping the country recover economically, “and we will encourage its regional integration with the European Union.”

“Second, the United States will defend every inch of NATO territory and will continue to build and deepen a coalition with allies and partners to prevent Russia from causing further harm to European security, democracy, and institutions,” the NSS says. “Third, the United States will deter and, as necessary, respond to Russian actions that threaten core U.S. interests, including Russian attacks on our infrastructure and our democracy. Fourth, Russia’s conventional military will have been weakened, which will likely increase Moscow’s reliance on nuclear weapons in its military planning. The United States will not allow Russia, or any power, to achieve its objectives through using, or threatening to use, nuclear weapons. America retains an interest in preserving strategic stability and developing a more expansive, transparent, and verifiable arms control infrastructure to succeed New START and in rebuilding European security arrangements which, due to Russia’s actions, have fallen in to disrepair. Finally, the United States will sustain and develop pragmatic modes of interaction to handle issues on which dealing with Russia can be mutually beneficial.”

The strategy notes that the administration does not “believe that governments and societies everywhere must be remade in America’s image for us to be secure.”

Bridget Johnson
Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a terrorism analyst and security consultant with a specialty in online open-source extremist propaganda, incitement, recruitment, and training. She hosts and presents in Homeland Security Today law enforcement training webinars studying a range of counterterrorism topics including conspiracy theory extremism, complex coordinated attacks, critical infrastructure attacks, arson terrorism, drone and venue threats, antisemitism and white supremacists, anti-government extremism, and WMD threats. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15 and a private investigator. Bridget is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera, BBC and SiriusXM.

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