President Trump will release a National Security Strategy (NSS) document likely by year’s end, one that will be based on the newly formed concept of “principled realism,” senior Trump administration officials tell Conservative Review.
The NSS serves as a foundation for how the White House will deal with the country’s security interests both at home and abroad.
“The NSS has to translate MAGA into foreign policy,” a senior administration official said, explaining the need to deliver a strategy that is both comprehensive and understandable.
“American national interests drive and dominate all our international actions, but informed by moral content,” the official clarified. “There’s an objective moral content to our foreign policy. And at the same time, it is tempered to not be utopian.”
The official indicated that the launch of 59 Tomahawk missiles against the Syrian regime in April was well within the bounds of principled realism, and a response to actions defined as both a “global threat” and “totally, objectively immoral” behavior by the Assad regime.
“If you want to be our friend, we will be your friend. If you’re going to mess with us and undermine our interests, you will pay a price, whether you’re a hacker, a non-state actor, or whether you’re a guy in North Korea building nuclear-capable missiles.”
A senior administration official familiar with the work of Nadia Schadlow, a national security expert brought on to help draft the National Security Strategy, tells CR that she will attempt to produce an NSS as “iconoclastic as our new commander in chief,” adding, “the era of milquetoast boilerplate is over.”
President Trump first introduced the concept of principled realism delivering the first foreign speech of his presidency in May at the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“For our part, America is committed to adjusting our strategies to meet evolving threats and new facts. We will discard those strategies that have not worked — and will apply new approaches informed by experience and judgment. We are adopting a Principled Realism, rooted in common values and shared interests,” Trump said in Riyadh.
He elaborated on principled realism a few weeks later, delivering remarks on Cuba while in Miami, Fla.
“On my recent trip overseas, I said the United States is adopting a principled realism, rooted in our values, shared interests, and common sense,” the president said. “[C]ountries should take greater responsibility for creating stability in their own regions. It's hard to think of a policy that makes less sense than the prior administration’s terrible and misguided deal with the Castro regime.”
From Reagan to Obama, the NSS has, in the past, helped detail what the president seeks to accomplish in foreign policy. The first NSS was provided by the Reagan Administration in 1987 following the passage of the Goldwater-Nichols Act.
Ronald Reagan’s 1988 NSS sought to utilize all instruments of American power to defeat our adversaries and bolster allies. The ‘88 NSS is recognized by some as the last time an American president outlined a grand strategy to protect and enhance American national security interests.
The Bush-era concept of “pre-emptive war,” utilized to justify the invasion of Iraq, was found in the 2002 NSS. The 2002 strategy also called for American initiatives to push for Western-style democracy projects in the Middle East.
Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.
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