The PJ Tatler

'Strategic Patience': White House Unveils National Security Strategy

President Obama issued a national security strategy to Congress this morning calling for “strategic patience” to face challenges ranging from rampaging terrorists to Vladimir Putin on the march.

“America leads from a position of strength. But, this does not mean we can or should attempt to dictate the trajectory of all unfolding events around the world,” Obama wrote in the preface of the report. Global challenges, he added, “require us to take our responsibilities seriously and make the smart investments in the foundations of our national power.”

The 35-page document mentions “Islam” just twice — in spelling out the formal name of ISIL, and stating, “We reject the lie that America and its allies are at war with Islam.”

The report begins by lauding the administration for perceived progress won by Obama’s “active leadership,” including the perpetually dragged-out Iran nuclear negotiations. “We led international efforts to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons, including by building an unprecedented international sanctions regime to hold Iran responsible for failing to meet its international obligations, while pursuing a diplomatic effort that has already stopped the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and rolled it back in key respects.”

“Even as we have decimated al-Qa’ida’s core leadership, more diffuse networks of al-Qa’ida, ISIL, and affiliated groups threaten U.S. citizens, interests, allies, and partners,” it adds.

The strategy vows, in bold letters, that “first and foremost, we will lead with purpose.”

It encourages “a rules-based international order advanced by U.S. leadership that promotes peace, security, and opportunity through stronger cooperation to meet global challenges.”

It lists as security priorities:

– Catastrophic attack on the U.S. homeland or critical infrastructure;

– Threats or attacks against U.S. citizens abroad and our allies;

– Global economic crisis or widespread economic slowdown;

– Proliferation and/or use of weapons of mass destruction;

– Severe global infectious disease outbreaks;

– Climate change;

– Major energy market disruptions; and

– Significant security consequences associated with weak or failing states (including mass atrocities, regional spillover, and transnational organized crime).

“We will lead with strength. After a difficult decade, America is growing stronger every day,” the report states. “…We will lead by example. The strength of our institutions and our respect for the rule of law sets an example for democratic governance.”

The strategy brags about the drawdowns of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as allowing the U.S. “to realign our forces and resources to meet an evolving set of threats while securing our strategic objectives.”

“In so doing, we will prioritize collective action to meet the persistent threat posed by terrorism today, especially from al-Qa’ida, ISIL, and their affiliates.”

On stripping the military: “Although our military will be smaller, it must remain dominant in every domain.”

It emphasizes a “Whole of Community” approach on homeland security. “We have emphasized community-based efforts and local law enforcement programs to counter homegrown violent extremism and protect vulnerable individuals from extremist ideologies that could lead them to join conflicts overseas or carry out attacks here at home.”

“The threat of catastrophic attacks against our homeland by terrorists has diminished but still persists,” the document states.

It stresses Obama’s Global Zero quest for “the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”

“As long as nuclear weapons exist, the United States must invest the resources necessary to maintain—without testing—a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent that preserves

strategic stability. However, reducing the threat requires us to constantly reinforce the basic bargain of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which commits nuclear weapons states to reduce their stockpiles while non-nuclear weapons states remain committed to using nuclear energy only for peaceful purposes.”

“Our commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is rooted in the

profound risks posed by North Korean weapons development and proliferation,” the report adds. “…We have made clear Iran must meet its international obligations and demonstrate its nuclear program is entirely peaceful.”

It singles out climate change as “an urgent and growing threat to our national security, contributing to increased natural disasters, refugee flows, and conflicts over basic resources like food and water” with “present day” effects being felt “from the Arctic to the Midwest.”

The report further states that “even where our strategic interests require us to engage governments that do not share all our values, we will continue to speak out clearly for human rights and human dignity in our public and private diplomacy.”

“Our vital intelligence activities are also being reformed to preserve the capabilities needed to secure our interests while continuing to respect privacy and curb the potential for abuse.”

The administration vows to be “a champion for communities that are too frequently vulnerable to violence, abuse, and neglect—such as ethnic and religious minorities; people with disabilities; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) individuals; displaced persons; and migrant workers.”

“We will deter and defeat any adversary that threatens our national security and that of our allies. We confidently welcome the peaceful rise of other countries as partners to share the burdens for maintaining a more peaceful and prosperous world. We will continue to collaborate with established and emerging powers to promote our shared security and defend our common humanity, even as we compete with them in economic and other realms. We will uphold and refresh the international rules and norms that set the parameters for such collaboration and competition.”

The report makes no mention of Boko Haram and only refers to “violent extremists fighting governments in Somalia, Nigeria, and across the Sahel” — terrorist groups that aim to add to the caliphate, not just rebel against a government. Boko Haram has plunged beyond the borders of Nigeria, and a former D.C.-area cabbie was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list last week for recruiting for Al-Shabaab and potentially identifying targets in the U.S.