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Trump Offers Blueprint For Military And Foreign Policy


President Trump unveiled his national security strategy today. It's a blueprint for confronting international challenges ranging from terrorism to cyber warfare. Congress requires presidents to issue such a strategy. It has often been done quietly, but this president took the opportunity to trumpet his approach. NPR's Scott Horsley reports.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: In Trump's telling, the United States has squandered much of the last three decades from the fall of the Berlin Wall until his own election a year ago, complacent in its superpower status even as rivals were chipping away at America's lead. Trump's new national security strategy declares that approach is over.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Whether we like it or not, we are engaged in a new era of competition. We accept that vigorous military, economic and political contests are now playing out all around the world.

HORSLEY: Trump says the U.S. will no longer assume that engaging other countries, trading with them and bringing them into the international fold will eventually tame those rivalries. Instead, he says, he's embracing the international competition head-on.


TRUMP: With the strategy I am announcing today, we are declaring that America is in the game, and America is going to win.

HORSLEY: Trump's strategy identifies three main categories of adversaries - transnational gangs of terrorists and criminals, rogue states like North Korea and what the White House calls revisionist powers such as China and Russia. That doesn't rule out cooperation with those countries. But despite his oft-stated wish for improved ties with Russia, Trump says the U.S. is clear-eyed about the limits of that relationship.


TRUMP: While we seek such opportunities of cooperation, we will stand up for ourselves, and we will stand up for our country like we have never stood up before.

HORSLEY: Trump says the U.S. will carry out its strategy on a number of fronts from protecting the homeland to boosting America's economy.


TRUMP: Any nation that trades away its prosperity for security will end up losing both.

HORSLEY: The president's plan also calls for a robust military buildup, though defense analyst Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and International Studies says it's still not clear whether Congress is willing to pay for that.

TODD HARRISON: Unless the president is able to pull a rabbit out of his hat and get Congress to significantly raise or eliminate the budget caps, I don't think a significant increase in the size of the military is likely to happen.

HORSLEY: While the security strategy nods to Trump's slogan of America First, aides insist that should not be read as isolationism. On the contrary, they say Trump wants to boost America's influence overseas. Foreign policy analyst Dan Drezner of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy says there's not much sign of that in the last year.

DAN DREZNER: It's hard to see how American influence in the world has really increased. And in most areas, I would say it's probably decreased.

HORSLEY: Drezner says by bucking international agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Paris climate accord, Trump has prompted other countries to look past the U.S. In some cases, competitors like China have stepped in to fill the void. On his trip to Asia last month, Trump celebrated his red carpet welcome as a sign of respect for America, but Drezner suspects it's really a way of playing to the president's ego.

DREZNER: For Trump, foreign policy is personalized. If he is treated well, he interprets that as American and American interests being treated well even though that's not necessarily the case.

HORSLEY: Trump's strategy no longer treats global climate change as a national security threat. Instead, it calls for unleashing America's abundant energy resources as a way to boost the U.S. economy. Scott Horsley, NPR News, the White House. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.