Trump’s national security strategy clearly presented

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The Japan News published this editorial Dec. 20 on the National Security Strategy President Donald Trump’s administration unveiled.

To counter China and Russia, both of which are attempting to coercively reshape the post-war international order, the United States will reinforce its military power and strengthen ties with its allies, thus promoting peace and stability. It is significant that such a pertinent strategy has been clearly presented.

The U.S. administration under President Donald Trump unveiled its National Security Strategy. It will serve as the basic principle for the administration’s foreign and security policies. It is said to be the first time for the security strategy to have been formulated by any administration in its first year in the White House. It is expected to bring about such effects as eliminating, to a certain extent, concern over the unpredictable words and deeds of Trump.

The strategy attaches great importance to preserving mutual interests shared by Japan and the United States in the Indo-Pacific region, and considers Japan as “our critical ally” in responding to North Korea and other issues. It is commendable that the strategy has stated expressly that the United States will cooperate on missile defense with Japan and South Korea; seek to increase quadrilateral cooperation with Japan, Australia, and India; and maintain a forward military presence.

It should be noted that in the strategy, the United States calls China and Russia “revisionist powers” that “challenge American power,” thus strongly holding both countries in check.

The strategy defines China as a “strategic competitor” of the United States. It criticizes China for seeking “to displace the United States in the Indo-Pacific region” by building and militarizing outposts in the South China Sea and expanding its trade and investment in the region.

Regarding Russia, which has continued its hegemonic actions since it annexed Crimea in Ukraine, the strategy stresses that the country “continues to intimidate its neighbors.”

Separate security, trade

The previous U.S. administration under President Barack Obama conspicuously took the posture of aiming to stabilize the international situation by cooperating with China and Russia. Consequently, however, the administration was taken advantage of due to its weak-kneed diplomacy.

It is appropriate for the U.S. administration to have shifted its strategy to one of reviewing its relations with China and Russia, on the basis of its level-headed recognition of the present state of affairs and in the form of protecting the national interests of the United States and the U.S.-led world order.

Regarding North Korea, which is proceeding with its nuclear and missile development, and Iran, a country that supports terrorist organizations, the strategy condemns both as “rogue regimes” that destabilize their regions. While preventing military tensions from escalating, the United States must resolutely deal with North Korea’s provocation.

The strategy calls for preserving “peace through strength” and indicates the administration’s policy of building up U.S. forces. In line with the increase in its national defense expenses, Washington also called for its allies to shoulder a “fair share of the burden of responsibility.”

Japan will review the National Defense Program Guidelines next year. Also in light of the new U.S. strategy, it is necessary to deepen discussion on security policy as a whole, including Japan’s possession of the capability to attack enemy bases.

It is worrisome that the strategy stresses promoting “American prosperity” and even refers to the correction of its trade imbalance. It can be called an undisguised indication of the “America First” policies advocated by Trump.
Regarding trade issues, there are international rules established under a framework separate from that of national security. Linking trade considerations to security issues may invite distrust among the United States’ allies, thus leading to turmoil. It could also hinder realization of the security strategy.