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"The Trump Revolution." What is behind the new US National Security Strategy?

"The Trump Revolution." What is behind the new US National Security Strategy?

20.12.2017
Tags: USA, Trump, Politics, Analytics, China, Russia, Iran, DPRK,

18 December, the new US National Security Strategy was unveiled, which was awaited in both America and the world with poorly concealed impatience. Observers' attention is focused on China and Russia, which Donald Trump called "revisionist forces" and "strategic competitors." However, the promulgated document contains more interesting moments, revealing the veil over domestic political cuisine in the United States.

"The Trump Revolution"

With all the formalities and rituals, the "Strategy" traditionally reflects, at least, the "framework" approaches of the US to its development. And not only in foreign and defense policy, but also in domestic politics and economics. Expectations from the new document were heated almost according to the laws of show business: the appearance of something new, almost "revolutionary" was announced. Yes, and the presentation of the "Strategy" was arranged with pomp and scope.

The new document can hardly be called a "revolution", but there are significant changes compared to the prevailing approaches. But this, really, is the Trump Strategy. The whole document has a noticeable and even unconcealed imprint of the personality of the current American president.

Commentators in Russia and the post-Soviet countries were most attracted by the formula that China and Russia are "revisionist forces" that threaten the stability of a world-friendly world order. And also the remark that Russia's nuclear weapons are a key military and political threat for the United States. But these statements have long been a kind of "expert banality." In "Strategy" D. Trump there are much more interesting moments, which should pay attention.

Let's start with the fact that the "Strategy" has an emphatically ideological character, and with a fair deal of geopolitical egocentrism, as a whole, the statement of D. Trump about the leading role of the United States in the key achievements of mankind.

"The US national security strategy" as a genre has always been ideological. Even in the relatively ideologically quiet times of the late B. Clinton, when it was not even a matter of consolidating victory in the ideological confrontation.

But never the ideological nature of the document was not expressed so purposefully. And this is not just some kind of ideological formula "America First" ("America first"), which runs through the entire document.

The world was presented with a new ideological system in which the full American military-power hegemony is directly proclaimed the basis of stability on the basis of the revival of the United States as a great industrial power. What really should be considered a revolutionary change, a kind of "Trump revolution", the most important indicator of the development of the situation in the United States.

The fundamental basis of this America First strategy is three components:

1. Protection of the national territory of the United States and the American way of life.

2. Prosperity of the United States for the benefit of American "workers and companies" (pay attention to the order of words).

3. Providing "peace through force" by restoring (!) American military power.

Reformatting America

These components are related not so much to the external as to the domestic policy of the United States. They designate, first of all, the task of reformatting America to fight for leadership in a new world, and indirectly demonstrate a fundamentally new level of awareness of the threat directly to the US itself by that part of the American elite behind Trump.

The degradation of the US as a nation state and national economy is directly related to the consequences of the global economic crisis 2008-09.

The key, perhaps, is the thesis that America's global leadership is not inevitable, but it is also not accidental. The postulate is accompanied by a quote from one of the "fathers" of American democracy, Alexander Hamilton, about the God-chosenness of the United States. But the general conclusion is far more grievous: the US will have to once again prove its right to global leadership, with both "in it" (in the economy) and "blood" (in foreign policy).

From this, the United States, in almost 30 years of global monopoly, is probably already out of habit. "Trump's strategy" draws a line under the history of what can probably be called "natural monopoly." This follows directly from the statement that from now on, America and Americans will have to live in a "competitive world".

But never before, even at the peak of the "neoconservative revolution" (late Bush Jr. - Ed "EE"), the ideological component of such documents was not implicated in such a one-sidedness and American exclusiveness.

The references to what the United States has or had once been allies are either "ritualistic" or a reminder of the contributions that the "allies" must make to ensure joint security. Even when it comes to long-standing institutional allies, to which the US has formalized obligations.

Trump is, to some extent, an "anti-Kennedy". John Kennedy proclaimed the US readiness to defend any ally, and Donald Trump fixed the principle of uselessness for the US allies. If only the latter are not ready not just to fully accept the American position, but also to pay for it. Frankly speaking, a somewhat discouraging approach for many leaders of post-Soviet countries.

And it is very indicative that diplomacy, classical methods of foreign policy in the "Strategy" are written in passing and at the end of the relevant paragraphs, and the fragment about economic diplomacy is objectively the most vague part of the document. That, among other things, demonstrates that the conceptual developments of the State Department apparatus by the President's entourage were ignored.

The rise of Moscow's status

The key factor in the Russian perception of the "Strategy" is the statement contained in it about the revisionism of China and Russia. Leaving aside banalities and propaganda cliches, we note two circumstances.

First, China and Russia are directly united into one geopolitical group, almost a coalition, appearing constantly in pairs, but being separated from the other two "geopolitical hooligans" of our time - Iran and North Korea.

Trump as he can begin to accept new geopolitical realities, gradually abandoning the concept of an extended "axis of evil" with Russia's participation and recognizing Moscow's higher geopolitical status. At the same time, there is no hint that the United States perceives China and Russia as long-term partners.

Secondly, the attribution of China to one "group" of countries with Russia, clearly unfriendly in the strategic interests of the United States, occurred immediately after the successful agreements between Beijing and Washington and the largest agreements in the field of economy. It is possible that Trump and his advisors concluded that the current trends in the development of US-Chinese relations are not beneficial, the logic of which will have to be changed, probably bringing a fair share of the economy to the economy.

However, assessments of the policy of Russia and China as a whole are quite sensible and boil down to the fact that the two countries do not seek to challenge American global hegemony as a concept and system. They are betting on the creation of local superiority of forces and influence in the event of a crisis in key regions. Than destroy the American global hegemony "in parts".

New Cold War?

From here - half a step to recognition of the principle of "localized multipolarity", which can be a great shock for the American elite and its allies. But this approach is quite in line with the Tramp approach: the US should have the right and the ability to "surrender" any ally if the situation threatens America as a whole. It seems that we are faced with the situation when, at the propaganda level, the US designates one vector - "America First", but strategically sees a much more complicated situation, gradually preparing for it both its own public opinion and the allies' elites.

But if the US goes on to initiate a new cold war with Russia or China, the war will be a hybrid economic-force clash rather than an economic-ideological one. The US is ready to fight only for the sake of money, but not for ideological postulates.

It is important that in the assessments of the economic state of the "field of confrontation" in the "Strategy" appeared new notes. The US is no longer so confident in its economic hegemony, which is undermined by China and Russia, concentrating on key markets.

For the first time, the idea of ​​a crisis of American economic hegemony in the world appears, which previously seemed to be heretical. And this crisis is openly associated with the insufficient US power not only in infrastructure investment (China), but also in global energy: in key segments of what is called the real sector of the economy.

For the sake of completeness, China is directly accused of trying to compete with the US in technology through their illegal use, which promises a new wave of wars around intellectual property rights and patent conflicts.

In addition to the ideological innovations in the Strategy, there are also traditional "ingredients", including those borrowed from former times considered "safe" times. For example, the theme of the fight against global epidemics and criminal syndicates, which do not appear in the structure of the document at all and look like foreign inclusions. Probably, we see traces of that "agenda" that would be offered to the world by H. Clinton.

The issues of cybersecurity are mainly laid out in terms of consolidating and preserving at any cost American control over the development of the Internet, which, probably, should upset some of the Russian supporters of "freedom in the network." But the key priority of cybersecurity is also the intra-American question: the deployment of the Internet of the 5G generation throughout the United States.

The part of the document dealing with the fight against terrorism, in which there is no hint of an attempt at generalization, even for propaganda purposes, the experience of confrontation between IGIL and al-Qaeda (prohibited terrorist organizations), is extremely superficial, if not significant at all. It seems that the US has not drawn any conclusions from its failed policy in the Middle East in 2009-17. and from the experience of interaction with "good Islamic radicals" against "bad" ones.

More interesting is the direct return to the old anti-Iranian arguments related to Tehran's accusations of supporting terrorism. This not only freezes the process of the US-Iranian dialogue.

This makes it extremely difficult - due to the sensitivity of the accusations - the dialogue and economic rapprochement between Iran and the EU, which the Iranian leadership strongly hopes.

But in general, the foreign policy part, especially outside the issues related to relations with China and Russia, does not look very impressive. It was clearly written on the "residual principle" and meaningfully secondary.

The split in the US elite

And this brings us back to the question that the Tramp "National Security Strategy" is a document that is directed not so much "outside" as it is inside America and will be actively used by D.Trump to fight against political opponents. Especially considering that the document, being very controversial from the point of view of its political and military-political positions, is easily transformed into a system of understandable and simple political slogans.

"Strategy" America First is probably an application for a long-term ideology, if the group whose interests D.Trump represents will manage to stay in power for a long time. And this is quite possible due to the deepest crisis of internal opponents of the current government in the US, even if D. Trump will leave the post of president.

The very structure of the document speaks of a shift in the institutional foundations of US policy: from the desire for an elite consensus, alignment and integration of positions (at least in foreign policy) - to an attempt to consolidate as an official opinion the position of one of the groups in the American establishment. It is time to draw conclusions about the nature of the modern mechanism for making important political decisions in the United States and its political costs.

There is no integrating idea, except for America First, in the new "tramp" concept of national security. With all the zigzags of American politics in the last 60 years, such an idea can only be the result of an internal consensus of key groups of the American elite, which is not yet visible.

The American "aristocracy" and, as a consequence, the American bureaucracy remain divided and tightened into a loosely weaving tangle of contradictions. This tangle can begin to be unleashed only if the US starts a new cycle of growth of the domestic economy, which is the basis for a truly long-term development strategy for the United States and the development of key foreign policy vectors. For now, probably, it is necessary to perceive the presented document as the document of the "transition period".

Dmitry Evstafiev
Eurasia.Expert
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