Analysis & Opinions - The New York Times

When America No Longer Is a Global Force for Good

| Dec. 20, 2017

President Trump’s National Security Strategy marks a dramatic departure from the plans of his Republican and Democratic predecessors, painting a dark, almost dystopian portrait of an “extraordinarily dangerous” world characterized by hostile states and lurking threats. There is scant mention of America’s unrivaled political, military, technological and economic strength, or the opportunities to expand prosperity, freedom and security through principled leadership — the foundation of American foreign policy since World War II.

In Mr. Trump’s estimation, we live in a world where America wins only at others’ expense. There is no common good, no international community, no universal values, only American values. America is no longer “a global force for good,” as in President Obama’s last strategy, or a “shining city on a hill,” as in President Reagan’s vision. The new strategy enshrines a zero-sum mentality: “Protecting American interests requires that we compete continuously within and across these contests, which are being played out in regions around the world.” This is the hallmark of Mr. Trump’s nationalistic, black-and-white “America First” strategy.

But the world is actually gray, and Mr. Trump’s strategy struggles to draw nuanced distinctions. Throughout, China and Russia are conflated and equated as parallel adversaries. In fact, China is a competitor, not an avowed opponent, and has not illegally occupied its neighbors. Russia, as the strategy allows, aggressively opposes NATO, the European Union, Western values and American global leadership. It brazenly seized Georgian and Ukrainian territory and killed thousands of innocents to save a dictator in Syria. Russia is our adversary, yet Mr. Trump’s strategy stubbornly refuses to acknowledge its most hostile act: directly interfering in the 2016 presidential election to advantage Mr. Trump himself.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Rice, Susan.“When America No Longer Is a Global Force for Good.” The New York Times, December 20, 2017.

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