Trump unveils a national security strategy that reflects 'America First' campaign pledge

  • President Donald Trump on Monday released his first national security strategy.
  • The document paints the United States as engaged in a global power struggle for economic and military dominance and reflects his "America First" campaign promise.
  • "We are prioritizing the interests of our citizens and protecting our sovereign rights as a nation," Trump wrote in the opening pages of the framework.

President Donald Trump on Monday released his first national security strategy, a document that lays out a framework for his administration's approach to threats facing the nation and reflects his "America First" campaign promise.


"During my first year in office, you have witnessed my America First foreign policy in action. We are prioritizing the interests of our citizens and protecting our sovereign rights as a nation," Trump wrote in an introductory letter to the document.

The national security strategy document emphasizes a global power struggle, both economic and military, that is reminiscent of Cold War-era attitudes, when power and prosperity were seen as zero-sum games between nations.

"Whether we like it or not, we are engaged in a new era of competition," Trump said Monday afternoon at an event in downtown Washington to mark the unveiling of the strategy.

"A nation not prepared to win a war is a nation not capable of preventing a war," Trump said, listing what he called "fundamental truths" that were reasserted in his national security strategy. "A nation that does not protect prosperity at home, cannot protect its interests abroad," he added.

According to the written strategy, "China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity." It goes on to say that Russia and China "are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence."

In addition to Russia and China, which the document labels "revisionist powers," the document identifies two other rivals of the United States in a global "contest for power:" Rogue nations, like Iran and North Korea and nonstate threats, like the jihadist group ISIS.

"Although differing in nature and magnitude, these rivals compete across political, economic, and military arenas, and use technology and information to accelerate these contests, in order to shift regional balances of power in their favor," the document says.

In his remarks, Trump acknowledged that there is "much more work to do" to rein in North Korea's missile testing and nuclear weapons development. But he said America and its allies "will take all necessary steps — so that this regime cannot threaten the world."

He also spent part of his speech reviewing the foreign policies his administration has promoted during his first year in office, including its participation in a successful multinational campaign to drive ISIS out of key cities in Iraq.

He also took credit for previously announced increases in national defense spending in certain NATO-member countries. "We have made clear that countries that are immensely wealthy should reimburse the United States for the cost of defending them," Trump said of the treaty organization.

Trump's description of how NATO funding works is not accurate, however. NATO member countries pledge to spend a certain percentage of their own GDP on their own national defense — they never pay the United States or NATO to defend them.

NATO funding aside, Trump's national security strategy includes two significant departures from previous administrations' security frameworks: The first is an emphasis on border security and immigration policy.

"For the first time ever, our national security strategy includes … building a wall on our southern border, ending chain migration, and the horrible visa and lottery programs," Trump said, referring to the Diversity Visa Lottery, also known as the green card lottery, which is administered by the U.S. State Department.

The second major departure is Trump's insistence that the current U.S. tax code, as well as the current regulatory system, pose real threats to our nation's safety.

"Any country that trades away its prosperity for security will end up losing both," he said. "That is why this national security strategy … calls for cutting taxes and rolling back unnecessary regulations."

Later this week, Republicans are poised to pass a bill that makes massive changes to the nation's tax code.

Read the entire national security strategy here.