Speed Reads

Worlds Apart

China and Russia slam Trump's national security strategy, but few think Trump will actually follow it

On Monday, President Trump unveiled a new national security strategy that portrays China and Russia as strategic adversaries using "subversive measures" to "challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity." On Tuesday, Russia called Trump's new strategy "imperial" and indicative of "an aversion to a multi-polar world," while China urged Trump "to stop deliberately distorting China's strategic intentions and abandon a Cold War mentality," so the U.S. doesn't "injure others and damage itself."

But it isn't at all clear Trump will adhere to his national security strategy. As president he has frequently touted his good relationship with Chinese President Xi Jingping and studiously avoided criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he spoke with twice last week. Halfway through Monday's speech on his security plan, Politico notes, Trump said he will work to "build a great partnership" with Moscow and Beijing and cited his intelligence-sharing with Russia, saying, "That's a great thing, and the way it's supposed to work."

"The greatest problem with the document is its frequent disconnects with the policies implemented by Trump's administration" and Trump's "professed opinions," says Council on Foreign Relations president Richard Haass at Axios, citing several examples. The strategy and Trump's speech about it "were worlds apart," agreed Thomas Wright at the Brookings Institution. "The strategy described the Russian and Chinese challenge in great detail, but Trump barely mentioned them. Instead he made an impassioned plea for partnership with Putin, demanded allies directly reimburse the United States for protection provided, and blamed the country's ills on immigrants and trade deals. ... It was as if he had not read the strategy at all. It was a surreal end to a surreal year."

"If we get praise from people who think that the president is out of touch saying that this is a return to sanity, then we will have failed," said National Security Council spokesman Michael Anton.