The National Security Strategy (NSS) of the United States incurs policies that promote cohesion between the US national defense and foreign relations. Lacroix (2023) indicates that the United States NSS is upheld through diplomacy to isolate threats and rally allies, maintenance of effective armed forces, use of intelligence services to protect classified information while detecting espionage and threats, marshaling economic power to achieve cooperation and implementation of emergency preparedness and civil defense policies. These strategies are tied to a common model driven by efforts to prevent and disrupt threats while protecting the critical infrastructure, key resources, and the life of Americans. The 2017 National Security Strategy and 2022 National Security Strategic guidance of the United States protect and work on shared intelligence to make America a peaceful homeland. This paper focuses on the impact of the 2017 National Strategy and the 2022 National Security Strategic Guidance of the United States on security strategy success by comparing and contrasting existing similarities and differences.
USA 2017 National Security Strategy
The National Security Strategy (NSS) under the Trump administration was formulated in mid-December 2017 and mandated to protect the homeland, advance US world influence, leverage the ability to preserve peace, and promote U.S. prosperity. The implementation of the four core functions impacted the operation models of the Departments of Defense (DOD), Homeland Security (DHS), and State (DOS), given that these departments historically operated within their own jurisdiction with the core aim of helping and supporting NSS. As per Weaver (2018), the 2017 National Security Strategy model aimed at marching orders given by the Trump administration while prioritizing budget requests and their subsequent executions.
The first notable role of the 2017 National Security Strategy was that under Homeland, the president would identify key threats idolized to harm the United States while the NSS was tasked to prioritize finance and banking, transportation, national security, safety, and health, communications, and energy. Second, the DHS was tasked to uphold infrastructure protection by eliminating physical attacks on seaports and air, telecommunication industry, railways, and roads while sealing off entry points that look porous for US attacks. Third, the DS was tasked to maintain strong diplomatic relations while collaborating with DOD to ensure prosperity and international peace remain top priorities (Lacroix, 2023). The 2017 NSS ensured that its model achieves the mandate of protecting the American people, influencing enhancement, protecting prosperity, and preserving peace. Compared to the previous administrations, the Trump administration used NSS under its governance to combat threats of mass destruction, advance economic prosperity, and promote the United States’ global leadership.
The 2017 NSS of the United States differs from others in many ways. First, the strategy emphasizes embracing homeland Security over international security to achieve economic growth. For instance, the United States government chooses not to impose its values on others but be content with national security affairs. Second, the NSS aims to defend its sovereignty without apology, an ideology that allows the United States to compete with other actors within the complex international security environment. The United States ensures that the NSS strategy is implemented maximally to circumnavigate challenges exhibited by international communities when fighting against war and peace. Finally, the uniqueness of the 2017 NSS is that it advances the US global completion and interests to achieve principled realism, eliminating the possibility of embracing soft power to promulgate US values.
USA National Security Strategic Guidance of 2022
The Biden administration formulated the USA NSS guidance, aiming to uphold the liberal internationalist tradition of promoting the mandate of U.S. foreign policy. The first notable mandate of the guidance was to restructure U.S. foreign policy, serving as a prelude to the strategic vision that defines the official national security for the administration. As per Goldgeier and Suri (2019), 2022 NSS guidance reflected on strengthening human rights and democracy, expanding cooperate networks through partnerships and alliances on the global center stage in addressing shared challenges, and prioritizing diplomacy. This indicates that USA NSS guidance adopted a dual strategic model that did not want to dwell on the past but portrayed the United States as an ambassador and leader overseeing the struggle between democracy and autocracy.
Second, implementing the NSS guidance involved linking current challenges to a strengthened democracy while modernizing the international cooperation architecture to handle the prevailing challenges. Thus, the 2022 NSS guidance abandoned the traditional realist view of security while embracing inclusivity from all stakeholders to handle security matters through a shared challenge model (Biden, 2022). Through the “Build Back Better” agenda, the NSS guidance emphasizes democracies with an interest of the American people at heart, where social and economic inadequacies that would reinvigorate the middle class were centrally placed within the security and foreign contexts. Zhang (2023) indicates that the agenda was to ensure that there is a balance between foreign policy and domestic issues for the United States to achieve a strengthened democracy, respond to challenges affecting the security environment, and expand economic prosperity and opportunities.
Finally, USA NSS guidance aimed to rebalance the strategic landscape by incorporating new models defining the 21st-century U.S. national strategy contours. The Biden administration believed that using an international order driven by solid democracy and the ability to allow global partnerships and alliances would achieve a rebalanced strategic landscape. The current security landscape is challenged by transnational shared challenges and geopolitical competition, and having an inclusive security conception where the state is willing to engage in collective action successfully helps respond to international threats. In a nutshell, the 2022 NSS guidance involves the rules-based international order mechanisms reforms that need to reflect on the current realities of life, which are driven by technology, trade, and economic changes.
Comparison: Similarities Vs. Differences
The two administrations utilized NSS in different ways but with similarities to achieve their agendas. First, the 2022 NSS guidance prioritizes revitalizing the U.S. economy through oversea engagement to balance domestic interests and offer power competition. For instance, through geopolitical and shared strategic challenges, the 2022 NSS guidance prioritized geopolitical competition by establishing international order to engage international competitors such as China and Russia. This was different from what the 2017 NSS demanded, where the Trump administration did not want to engage in cross-border security issues that the 2022 NSS guidance believes require a differentiation response model. One similarity with the 2017 NSS is that the 2022 NSS guidance still emphasizes prioritizing the safety of the American people while upholding their right to prosperity. Additionally, the similarity is based on the essence of the 2017 NSS and 2022 NSS guidance to embrace partnership, competition, and cooperation as part of tenets for achieving national interests, expanding economic prosperity, protecting the security of the American people, and defending democratic values (Goldgeier & Suri, 2019). However, the 2022 NSS guidance acknowledges that sovereign nations have to respect their citizens while advancing peace across borders since American principles are rooted in a force for good in the world. This has prompted American security and interest to adopt a framework where national security goals are to partner with allies, engage in multilateral organization activities, and respond to economic, political, and military competition from Russia, Iran, China, and North Korea to find a common solution to prevailing issues.
On immigration, the 2022 NSS guidance provides a softer view than the 2017 NSS. It is viewed that the 2017 NSS is characterized by racism and hate, while the 2022 NSS guidance shows that the two attributes have no place in the United States community. Immigrants also need opportunities to fulfill their dreams under a “fair, orderly, and humane immigration system.” It becomes paramount to allow reforms on the immigration laws exercised under the 2017 NSS to do away with aspects such as tight border security and vetting that undermines tenets of democracy. The 2022 NSS guidance implemented hemisphere partnership driven by the principle of stability, responsibility-sharing, humane migration management, legal pathways, and coordinated emergency response. The two strategies supported free, fair, and rules-based systems across borders while castigating unfair foreign trade practices and rule-breakers.
Impact of Intelligence on the Two Strategies
I believe that intelligence played a role in 2017 with the ability to impact the 2022 security strategy’s success. Under the National Security Act of 1947, NSS, through the president, is required to communicate the legislative vision, outline the actual strategy needed to shape the global environment while protecting the American people, and address the ability of the sitting administration to achieve the laid vision. As per Ettinger (2018), American intelligence involves the president, National Security Council, HoD and Agencies of the Executive Branch, Chair Joint Chiefs of Staff and Senior Military commanders, and Congress. The intelligence sources include Sigint, Imint, Masint, Humint, Osint, and Geoint, where the National Security Intelligence report. American intelligence is key in matters handling national power to provide all necessary classified information that can change world order and require attention if proven to be a threat to America. First, American intelligence operates on the commonality of handling cyber security and threats, weapons of mass destruction, innovation and technology, and terrorism. The intelligence provides information on how government can promote democracy, measure the level of strengthening international stability, counter terrorism and extremism, promote peace and prosperity, and reduce regional conflicts.
Second, the security strategy’s success depends on intelligence, given that it provides insights and early warning of the potential opportunities and threats to the government. NSS uses intelligence reports in assessing probable outcomes of proposed policy options while incorporating leadership government profiles into a model that informs travelers on security matters and promotes counterintelligence on security threats. One notable example is based on the intelligence report that major powers to the U.S., such as China and Russia, have shaped the world through a global competition where democracies and autocracies seem to compete. Further reports have indicated that Russia has become a threat to democracy while China only concentrates on its citizens due to its autocratic leadership; reasons as to why the 2022 NSS guidance prioritized international order that allows geopolitical competition, alliances, and relationship compared to the 2017 NSS that was against it. Another example of the impact of intelligence on the NSS is subject to the decision of the 2022 NSS guidance to end a two-decade US military campaign against global extremism and terrorism in the Middle East. Through the intelligence report, the Biden administration acknowledged that it was time for the U.S. to prioritize human rights and diplomacy to reduce instability and needed to retain its military posture rather than being used for regime change.
In conclusion, the paper focused on the impact of the 2017 National Strategy and the 2022 National Security Strategic Guidance of the United States on security strategy success by comparing and contrasting existing similarities and differences. Despite the 2022 NSS guidance prioritizing revitalizing the U.S. economy through oversea engagement to balance domestic interests and geopolitical competition through international order to engage international competitors such as China and Russia, the 2017 NSS prioritized domestic issues to better the life of the American people. In similarity, both strategies embraced partnership, competition, and cooperation as tenets for achieving national interests, expanding economic prosperity, protecting the security of the American people, and defending democratic values. Additionally, the two strategies supported free, fair, and rules-based systems across borders while castigating unfair foreign trade practices and rule-breakers. 2017 NSS and 2022 NSS guidance provision had and will always have a positive impact on the security strategy success, given that the intelligence report collected outline the actual strategy needed to shape the global environment while protecting the American people and addressing the ability of the sitting administration to achieve the laid vision.
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Goldgeier, J., & Suri, J. (2019). Revitalizing the US national security strategy. The Washington Quarterly, 38(4), 35-55.
Lacroix, R. M. (2023). The National Security Strategy (NSS) of the United States. In The Handbook of Homeland Security (pp. 649-655). CRC Press.
Weaver, J. M. (2018). The 2017 National Security Strategy of the United States. Journal of Strategic Security, 11(1), 62-71.
Zhang, X. (2023). Study on Approaching Critical Discourse Analysis:–Taking Biden’s 2021 Interim National Security Strategic Guidance as an Example. Journal of Education, Humanities and Social Sciences, 7, 11-21.