Dr Muhammad Khan
PRESIDENT Trump’s new national security strategy is being seriously criticized at the global level. ‘The America First’ policy of the US has everything for this superpower, undermining the interests’ of the rest of the world. Immediately upon announcement of the policy, Russia and China seriously reacted over it, calling it as “imperialist” policy, pushing the world towards another “Cold War”. On his part, President Trump clearly identified Russia and China as rival powers. In his policy announcement, President Trump said, “Whether we like it or not, we are engaged in a new era of competition. We recognize that weakness is the surest path to conflict and unrivalled power is the most certain means of defence.”
Unfortunately, the policy depicts a pure military way of tackling the global issues, where US should retain its central authority to dictate the world, keeping the US interests as supreme. Trump directly targeted Russia and China, calling them as revisionist powers and somehow tried to put them in the category of rogue states. This visible and documented attitude of United States was unique and against the norms of international relations and diplomacy.
Chinese Xinhau, the state owed news agency has called this strategy as a “victory for the hardliners” in the Trump administration and demanded the Whitehouse to “abandon its Cold War mentality and zero-sum game concept.” China considers this strategy would harm the US as well as other countries, directly or indirectly linked to it and particularly to China and Russia. Russia too declared it as a document, depicting imperial mentality. In the contemporary world, Russia is a resurgent power and China is a rising power, both challenging the status quo, the unipolar character of the world.
The new US national security strategy has indeed evolved after a prolonged debate and hectic discussion at White House and Pentagon for over six months. In fact, it is first comprehensive document on the security of US by Trump administration, which is futuristic and directly addressing the US rival powers. The crux of this strategy is how US should maintain its current status, securing its interests worldwide. The strategy identified four vital national interests of the United States. Starting from the core; protection of the homeland (US), the document emphasized protection of American people and the American lifestyle. Apart from protection, the strategy emphasizes promotion of US prosperity. This pillar of the policy is the preservation of peace through strength. This all has to be achieved by advancing the US influence world over.
In a way, the US is all set to make use of hard power, if diplomacy does not work. Otherwise, the White House has clearly said, “The strategy is realist because it is clear-eyed about global competition: It acknowledges the central role of power in world affairs, affirms that sovereign states are the best hope for a peaceful world, and clearly defines our national interests.” This clearly speaks that, countries following the US dictate or respecting US interests will be grouped differently and those not following this will be treated as foes or rivals and the strategy has a line of action against the rivals; the use of force.
Among the challenges, the new national security strategy identified states like China and Russia, as revisionist states and their usage of technological means and propaganda warfare. This emerging strategic and economic alliance is being seen by White House, as, ‘coercion to shape a world antithetical to US interests and values’. Since Pakistani geopolitics and its strategic orientation is centred towards the regional interests, which suits China and Russia more than US, therefore, the policy also marked, terrorism and Weapons of mass destruction as yet another challenge. Besides, the mantra of ‘Jihadist terrorists that foment hatred to incite violence against innocents is also an indication, targeting countries like Pakistan. Though US has been the mastermind of all Jihadists and terrorists of today, who were its blue boys yesterday. US made use of these elements for the attainment of its strategic objectives. Purely from the Pakistani perspective, the new US national security strategy is biased and anti-Pakistan. President Trump already targeted Pakistan in his August 21, 2017 policy pronouncement. In his Afghan Policy, President Trump said, “We are not nation building (in Afghanistan) again. We are killing terrorists.” But, fact of the matter is that, despite a clear inclination to cut down US overseas military engagement, President Trump had to concede to the policies of Pentagon, as did by his predecessors.
This indeed, is a constant policy of US establishment, which is persistent, uniform and takes into account US strategic and economic objectives at the forefront and ready to go to any extent, in order to maintain its global supremacy as a sole super power. In the current security strategy, Trump said, “We have made clear to Pakistan that while we desire continued partnership, we must see decisive action against terrorist groups operating on their territory. And we make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help.” Pakistan has already rejected it and gave a clear line of action for cooperation on equal grounds. Let’s have a debate on this US policy and formulate a clear national security policy response from Pakistan. The meeting of National Command Authority is one step towards this policy.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations, is based in Islamabad.