The national security strategy that President Trump will outline in a speech Monday will have an unprecedented focus on trade, border security and counter-terrorism, officials said Sunday.
The result will be a national security report to Congress that is as much an economic document as a defense strategy. But it will also have to balance competing objectives: Emphasizing economic competition with countries like China while also enlisting their help with security challenges like North Korea’s nuclear program.
Three senior administration officials briefed reporters on the strategy Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity to allow Trump to roll out the strategy in his speech Monday.
Among the officials responsible for drafting the strategy: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
The strategy will also define economic security as including the “national security innovation base” — a term coined by Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro to describe the technology and other intellectual property that gives the United States a strategic and economic advantage in the world.
Trump will describe Russia and China as “revisionist powers” intent on changing the global status quo by illegitimately seizing territory — Russia through its occupation of Crimea and China through its island-building in the South China Sea. China’s unique economic and military clout makes it what Trump will call a “strategic competitor,” aides said.
But that doesn’t mean that the United States shouldn’t cooperate with them when their interests align, Trump will argue. Just Sunday, Trump received the personal thanks of Russian President Vladimir Putin after the CIA gave the Russian security service information about a planned terrorist attack in St. Petersburg.
Under the Goldwater-Nichols Defense Department Reorganization Act of 1986, the president is required by law to submit a report on national security strategy to Congress every year. But previous presidents have treated the report with varying degrees of importance — President Barack Obama, for example, submitted the report only twice, in 2010 and 2015.
It was Obama’s 2015 strategy that coined the term “strategic patience” to describe his response to challenges like North Korea’s nuclear program. Trump has replaced “strategic patience” with his own buzzword: “Principled realism.”
By submitting the report his first year in office — and giving a speech to announce it — Trump is signalling that he’s personally invested in the strategy, aides said.
The strategy will be the first of a number of reports the Trump administration will roll out over the next few months on defense strategy, counter-terrorism, biodefense, nuclear posture and missile defense, aides said.