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Trump Ignites Russia, China Tensions with New National Security Strategy

Trump Ignites Russia, China Tensions with New National Security Strategy

Tuesday, 19 December, 2017 - 09:00
US President Donald Trump. (Reuters)

US President Donald Trump unveiled on Monday a new national security strategy that singled out Russia and China as his country’s main competitors.

The strategy deems China, like Russia, to be a "revisionist" power, determined to reshape the world according to its own ideals.

"Chinese dominance risks diminishing the sovereignty of many states" in its region and beyond, it said.

The strategy calls for stronger traditional alliances and new partnerships in Asia amid a "geopolitical competition between free and repressive visions of world order."

The strategy is harsher on Russia than the president has been in public comments. It said Russia uses "subversive measures" to weaken America's credibility and European governments, specifically calling out Moscow for "its invasions of Georgia and Ukraine."

The document doesn't specifically mention Russian meddling in last year's US presidential election. It does warn that Russia and China are more effectively using cyberattacks and online propaganda, saying the US and allies must counter the misinformation.

Trump said the US must re-establish control of its borders to block "terrorists" and international criminal groups, familiar themes from his campaign and first 11 months in the White House.

North Korea and Iran are singled out as the leading threats to US security, followed by what Trump used to call "radical terrorist" organizations like ISIS and al-Qaida. The strategy emphasized cyberthreats and stated the administration will assess such risks to security, energy, banking and transportation.

The US is ready to respond with "overwhelming force" to North Korean aggression and will "improve options" to compel the North to give up its nuclear weapons.

However, the "options" aren't entirely spelled out. It seeks cooperation from longtime allies Japan and South Korea toward an "area defense capability" — but that would surely be opposed by China. South Korea also said it has no intention of joining such a missile defense network.

Whereas past administrations argued a prosperous global economy would benefit all countries, Trump's strategy describes nations in fierce competition. It called for fighting US trade deficits by ensuring commercial relationships are fair, reciprocal and rules-based.

Trump's strategy called for increased defense spending to use the military as a force for peace. It includes familiar calls for the government to work more efficiently with industry to buy and build better, more high-tech weapons and end budget limits established in the midst of the recession.

Trump's vision holds that other nations in global alliances and international organizations need to pay their fair share. For too long, the UN and international financial institutions have been taken advantage of, to America's detriment, the strategy said. Such bodies should be "strengthened and supportive of the United States, our allies, and our partners." It repeated Trump's demand that NATO members spend more on defense.

The strategy warned about "violence, drug trafficking and illegal immigration" from Latin American nations, but it also floats great opportunity for US investment and trade.

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