The 2017 U.S. National Security Strategy attempts to integrate President Donald Trump’s aversion to trade agreements with his emphasis on American sovereignty at the expense of multilateral institutions and his skepticism about the prospects for democratization in the developing world with a policy of U.S. global engagement. The authors articulate a Jacksonian view of world order, in which a sovereign United States, secure in its military, technological, and economic power, frustrates revisionist great powers, maintains a global alliance system, and actively counters terrorism and other threats to the homeland. The keys to this strategy are domestic: reviving the economy through tax cuts and deregulation and promoting U.S. energy production. U.S. military spending will increase. China, as the most important economic and security competitor to the United States, will be the central concern of American strategy. There are many reasons to be skeptical that this approach can succeed—or that Trump will prove disciplined enough to follow it. But the political pressures to which it responds are real and won’t go away anytime soon. The post–Cold War foreign policy era is over, and as U.S. policymakers think about what comes next, they will find that the domestic political dynamics that helped shape this strategy statement will remain relevant even when the Trump administration comes to an end.
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