A Roadmap: National Security Under President Donald Trump
Obama made national security as partisan as everything else he touched—don’t repeat that mistake
Dear President-Elect Trump: Congratulations on a winning a hard-fought campaign. I haven’t always been your biggest fan (I wasn’t your opponent’s either) but you will soon enter the Oval Office facing more diverse security challenges, in more corners of the globe, than perhaps any of your predecessors. You’ll need help.
The world you’re about to encounter as our commander-in-chief is more dangerous and discombobulated than any new president has encountered in many decades. Your bumbling predecessor hasn’t exactly done you many favo
Russia: You made being friends with Russia a cornerstone of your campaign. You’re about to find out how tricky that will be in practice. Washington and Moscow have deeply embedded strategic interests that aren’t necessarily compatible, beyond platitudes. Vladimir Putin wants to shake your hand but he will not be charmed out of defending his country’s vital interests. President Obama’s denial and timidity together comprised one of the main causes of the West’s current problems with Russia. Putin runs a country that, aside from its several thousand nuclear weapons, is in economic and demographic decline: it’s hardly more than Mexico with ICBMs. Yet Russia can still cause enormous damage to the international system. Putin is a cunning operator thanks to his KGB background. We can partner with Russia on some issues but never mistake partnership for genuine friendship: Moscow doesn’t do that.rs either. Let’s walk through some must-dos, with a healthy dose of geopolitical reality.
Europe/NATO: Our NATO allies never had much faith in your predecessor and during your campaign you scared the hell out of them. The Atlantic Alliance isn’t in good shape, and it’s facing a real enemy for the first time in a quarter-century. Unless you want to dismantle NATO—which would be very unwise, strategically—there’s hard work to be done. Military spending by NATO members, beyond a few outliers, still lags below the notionally required two percent of GDP. You need to get our partners to ante up; try to be tactful, they dislike you already. Moreover, unless you can seriously charm Putin, limited NATO deployments in Eastern Europe may be the start, not the end-state, of what the Alliance must do to deter Russian adventurism. Make clear to our allies that we are behind them, that you understand Article 5, but they need to meet their alliance commitments too. Drop talk of NATO expansion—it’s not going to happen and just feeds the Russian agitprop machine. Finland and Sweden are different, they’re welcome, but that’s as far as that should go right now.
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