National security adviser H.R. McMaster on Tuesday gave a preview of the Trump administration’s new national security policy, which he said will be unveiled by the president on Monday.
The strategy, McMaster said, will prioritize four “vital national interests,” the lenses through which the administration views national security challenges. Those four areas include protecting the homeland and American people, advancing American prosperity, preserving peace through strength, and advancing American influence.
Speaking alongside the United Kingdom’s national security adviser Mark Sedwill at an event hosted by Policy Exchange, a U.K.-based think tank, McMaster also summarized the main threats to American national security as “revisionist powers,” including China and Russia, who undermine international order and stability, and ignore rule of law; “rogue regimes,” including North Korea and Iran, who support terror and pursue weapons of mass destruction; and “transnational terrorist organizations” including radical Islamist groups who constantly seek new ways to attack the United States.
“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.
McMaster characterized Russia as threatening the United states with “so-called new generation warfare,” sophisticated campaigns of subversion and propaganda “attempting to divide our community.” McMaster did not specifically mention Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential election.
McMaster described China’s economic aggression as a threat that is “challenging the rules-based economic order that helped lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty,” and suggested the way to deal with these two threats was “competitive engagement.”
“We have to compete effectively across new domains,” he said. “I think in many ways we evacuated a lot of competitive space in recent years and created a lot of opportunities for those revisionist powers,” McMaster said.
This strategy of “competitive engagement” reflects the idea of American prosperity being a national security interest. “The U.S. and U.K. cannot serve as serve as a force for peace and stability in the world if we are not economically and fiscally secure,” McMaster said, suggesting re-negotiations of trade deals will be a major facet of the national security strategy.
On North Korea, McMaster called for all nations to go beyond the current United Nations Security Council resolutions, to take what he described “might be our last best chance to avoid military conflict.”
McMaster also touched on the Iran strategy, repeating President Trump’s goals to counter Iran’s destabilizing activities beyond those prohibited by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal.
McMaster echoed the message Secretary of Defense Mattis and Secretary of State Tillerson have taken abroad, calling for NATO members to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense per year.
McMaster outlined a few key phrases that could be used to sum up the new national security strategy, including “competitive engagement,” “strengthen alliances through, in part, reciprocity,” “catalyze reforms that are necessary,” “ensure the U.S. is confident,” and “preserve this world order that has lifted so many out of poverty and maintained this world order for 70 years.”