A newly released Pentagon strategy document proposes a new vision of America’s national security priorities — one in which competition with China and Russia is more important to the United States than the fight against international terrorism, according to Washington Post.
After almost two decades of a “war on terror” that came at huge expense but often had few tangible benefits, such a strategy would mark a noteworthy change in the way the United States conducts its foreign policy.
The National Defense Strategy was unveiled Friday morning at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Washington post reports.
Speaking to reporters, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis explained that the document, which calls for a sustained financial investment in the military to overcome “a period of strategic atrophy,” reflects the real priorities for the United States at this moment in time.
“We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists, but great power competition — not terrorism — is now the primary focus of U.S. national security,” Mattis said.
Beijing and Moscow are seen as the primary rivals. In its text, the National Defense Strategy states that “long-term strategic competitions with China and Russia” are the “principle priorities” for the Defense Department. North Korea and Iran were listed as “rogue regimes” that the United States would work to deter.
The shift in priorities detailed in the National Defense Strategy reflect concerns in the national security community about China and Russia’s foreign policy ambitions. At the same time, it may also be a reflection of the idea that international terrorist groups like the Islamic State have had their capabilities seriously diminished over the past year and that they do not pose the same level of threat that they were once thought to.
Notably, a report released by Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center on Thursday showed that there was a global drop in terrorist attacks in 2017. Notably, there appears to have been a significant drop in the number of terrorism-related civilian deaths last year — if you look at the average for the previous five years, it was a drop of 45 percent.
Despite this shift, there is little sign that the U.S. public is more concerned about the threat posed by China or Russia — or that it has stopped caring deeply about international terrorism.