Trump's National Security Strategy warns of 'great power competition' with Russia and China

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US President Donald Trump’s administration named Russia and China on Monday as US competitors on the world stage in a security strategy document that offers a sober analysis of Moscow as a rival.
US President Donald Trump waves after delivering remarks regarding the Administration's National Security Strategy at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington DC, US on Dec 18, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - President Donald Trump's first national security strategy envisions a world in which the United States confronts two "revisionist" powers - China and Russia - that are seeking to change the global status quo, often to the detriment of America's interests.

But while the document outlines a detailed plan to push back against China's global economic ambitions, it says little about dealing with the kind of cyber and information warfare techniques that Moscow used to try to influence the 2016 presidential election.

The strategy, which Trump presented in a speech Monday afternoon (Dec 18), is the first comprehensive effort by his administration to describe an all-encompassing strategic worldview. Administration officials said it was drawn from speeches Trump had delivered during the presidential campaign, in Europe and Asia and at the United Nations.

It describes a world that was on a three-decade holiday from superpower rivalry, and it suggests that holiday is over.

"After being dismissed as a phenomenon of an earlier century, great power competition returned," the document says. It then tries to lend intellectual coherence to a foreign policy that is often defined by Trump's tweets or his gut instincts about which world leaders are strong, which are weak and which are prepared to cut a deal.

While the document's description of pushing back against China on trade is familiar from the campaign, its description of the challenge posed by Russia seems at odds with Trump's own refusal to criticise President Vladimir Putin for his seizure of Crimea, efforts to destabilise Ukraine and his violations of a key nuclear treaty with the United States.

In fact, the document describes Russia's behaviour in far more critical terms than Trump himself often does.

China and Russia, the document says, "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".

"These competitions require the United States to rethink the policies of the past two decades - policies based on the assumption that engagement with rivals and their inclusion in international institutions and global commerce would turn them into benign actors and trustworthy partners," the document continues.

"For the most part, this premise turned out to be false."

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