Trump unveils “America First” national security strategy
Bill Van Auken
19 December 2017
President Donald Trump delivered a speech in Washington Monday introducing his administration’s new “America First” National Security Strategy, a 55-page document that sets out in blunt terms the preparations for a new world war.
Whether Trump had even read the document was far from clear. His address itself was essentially a barely warmed over campaign stump speech, celebrating his election in November 2016, his inauguration in 2017 and touting all of his “America First” and “Make America Great Again” themes, ranging from building a border wall and cracking down on immigrants to ripping up trade and climate agreements and upending the nuclear accord with Iran.
Delivered in a flat and indifferent monotone, the speech had all the earmarks of a piece drafted by Trump’s fascistic senior policy advisor Stephen Miller, with its strident anti-immigrant themes, its invocation of American “culture” and “values” and its vow that “we will stand up for ourselves, and we will stand up for our country like we have never stood up before.”
Trump cast his administration’s nearly one-year tenure as an economic turnaround for the United States, reflected above all in the stock market reaching an “all-time high” Monday for the 85th time since his election. He vowed that pending tax cuts for the corporations and the rich combined with the slashing of regulations would continue this trend.
There was more than a faint echo of Hitlerian ideology in Trump’s address, with its denunciations of past presidents for betraying the “forgotten” American citizens and its vow to restore the economy by building up the military and the American arms industry.
“Our will is renewed, our future is regained, and our dreams are restored,” Trump concluded in his address, adding, “Every American has a role to play in this grand national effort.”
The essence of the National Security Strategy document itself consists of a call for the preparation for a new era of “great power” conflict and world war. While including Trump’s themes of militarizing the border and hounding immigrants along with invocations of American nationalism, the meat of the document reflects the thinking within the cabal of active duty and retired generals who dominate US foreign policy, including National Security Advisor Gen. H. R. McMaster, Defense Secretary Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis and Trump’s chief of staff, Gen. John F. Kelly.
McMaster, who reportedly played the leading role in the drafting of the document, expressed the thrust of its message in a conference organized last week by a British think tank, Policy Exchange. “Geopolitics are back, and back with a vengeance, after this holiday from history we took in the so-called post-Cold War period,” McMaster said.
After a quarter century of uninterrupted US wars in the wake of the Stalinist bureaucracy’s dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, McMaster and his fellow generals are using the new National Security Strategy to insist that Washington has been insufficiently aggressive and to push for an unprecedented upsurge in American militarism, directed at preparing for global war directed against China and Russia, both nuclear powers.
The document describes both China and Russia as “revisionist powers” and “hostile competitors” that are seeking “to shape a world antithetical to US values and interests.” “China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity,” the document states.
“These competitions require the United States to rethink the policies of the past two decades—policies based on the assumption that engagement with rivals and their inclusion in international institutions and global commerce would turn them into benign actors and trustworthy partners,” the document continues. “For the most part, this premise turned out to be false.”
The document includes an agenda for trade war and a set of domestic economic policies in its national security prescriptions—all of them aimed at transferring wealth from the working class to Wall Street through tax cuts, deregulation and “restraining federal spending.” Its principal demand, however, is for an unrestrained military buildup.
While the multiple wars waged over the past 16 years have drained nearly $6 trillion from the US economy, and Washington continues to spend more on its military than the next eight countries combined, the document presents the massive US war machine as dangerously underfunded and undermanned.
“Since the 1990s, the United States displayed a great degree of strategic complacency,” the document states. “Instead of building military capacity, as threats to our national security increased, the United States dramatically cut the size of our military ... Instead of developing important capabilities, the Joint Force entered a nearly decade long ‘procurement holiday’ during which the acquisition of new weapon systems was severely limited.”
The “holiday,” the document indicates, is over. A military buildup is required to confront the attempt by China and Russia to “reassert their influence regionally and globally.”
“Today, they are fielding military capabilities designed to deny America access in times of crisis and to contest our ability to operate freely in critical commercial zones during peacetime,” it states. “In short, they are contesting our geopolitical advantages and trying to change the international order in their favor.”
The Pentagon, it states, must achieve military “overmatch—the combination of capabilities in sufficient scale to prevent enemy success and to ensure that America’s sons and daughters will never be in a fair fight.”
At the same time, it rejects what it describes as a post-Cold War conception that “all wars would be fought and won quickly, from stand-off distances and with minimal casualties.” Implicitly, what now must be accepted is the prospect for far larger wars that will involve the deaths of American troops on a scale not seen since the Second World War.
“To retain military overmatch the United States must restore our ability to produce innovative capabilities, restore the readiness of our forces for major war, and grow the size of the force so that it is capable of operating at sufficient scale and for ample duration to win across a range of scenarios,” the document continues. “The United States must reverse recent decisions to reduce the size of the Joint Force and grow the force while modernizing and ensuring readiness.”
While calling for a substantial buildup of troop levels, the document also lays heavy stress on the strengthening of US capabilities in terms of waging nuclear war. “The United States must maintain the credible deterrence and assurance capabilities provided by our nuclear Triad and by US theater nuclear capabilities deployed abroad,” it states. “Significant investment is needed to maintain a US nuclear arsenal and infrastructure that is able to meet national security threats over the coming decades.”
In what amounts to a brief for nuclear war brinksmanship, the document asserts: “We will not allow adversaries to use threats of nuclear escalation or other irresponsible nuclear behaviors to coerce the United States, our allies, and our partners. Fear of escalation will not prevent the United States from defending our vital interests and those of our allies and partners.”
The National Security Strategy document constitutes a grave warning. In 2002, the administration of George W. Bush issued such a document advocating “preemptive war.” Within a year, US troops had invaded Iraq, launching a war of aggression based upon lies. The present document is making the case for a world war fought with nuclear weapons.