Robert E. Hamilton, October 26, 2022, the Foreign Policy Research Institute
- Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused a reorientation of US national security policy toward “constraining” Russia
- While China remains the long-term US focus, the new National Security Strategy (NSS) sees Russia as a “profoundly dangerous” state that poses an “immediate threat”
- The focus on confronting Russia in the near-term while posturing for a long-term competition with China co-exists uneasily with a renewed focus on promoting democracy as a US national security goal
Once every few decades, there is a geopolitical event of such magnitude that it fundamentally reorients US national security policy. The scope of such reorientations can be measured by examining the National Security Strategy produced in the aftermath of these geopolitical shocks. 9/11 was one such shock: it put terrorism at the forefront of perceived threats to US national security and ushered in an almost two-decade-long effort to defeat it.
Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine earlier this year was another such shock to the system. Three documents tell the story of how quickly and how profoundly US national security policy has changed in response. These are the 2017 National Security Strategy, published by the Trump administration, the early 2021 “Interim National Security Strategic Guidance,” and the recently published NSS. Even a rough analysis of these three documents tells the story.