The Obama administration’s first National Security Strategy—the bedrock executive branch statement of principles, intentions, and methods for ensuring American security—has leaked. It is the first NSS since the Bush administration released one in March 2006, and if it has a single constant theme, running through the pages of diplomatic boilerplate and dry technocratic discussion on themes from foreign and military policy to economic growth, sustainable development, and cyberspace, it is this: “To succeed, we must face the world as it is.”
“Our close friend” Israel (and our “unshakable commitment to its security) of course comes up, though not at center stage. Most notable, I think, is the absence of more than the barest hint of “linkage,” the doctrine which states that the continued irresolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is harmful to U.S. interests in the region. It doesn’t really show up.
The administration considers the top threat to U.S. security to be the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The document focuses on the prospect of terrorists like Al Qaeda possessing them, as well as North Korea’s continued nuclear development. “For decades,” it argues, “the Islamic Republic of Iran has endangered the security of the region and the United States and failed to live up to its international responsibilities. In addition to its illicit nuclear program, it continues to support terrorism, undermine peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and deny its people their universal rights.” It proposes a combination of carrots and sticks to coax Iran onto a more integrated path; one subsection is titled, “Practicing Principled Engagement with Non-Democratic Regimes,” which is a controversial proposition.
The NSS specifically highlights the importance of the Non-Proliferation Treaty: “We will pursue a broad, international consensus to insist that all nations meet their obligations. And we will also pursue meaningful consequences for countries that fail to meet their obligations under the NPT or to meet the requirements for withdrawing from it.”
Then, there is the Mideast itself. The NSS calls for “a two-state solution that ensures Israel’s security, while fulfilling the Palestinian peoples’ legitimate aspirations for a viable state of their own.” (There are multiple Palestinian “peoples”?) And it declares:
The United States, Israel, the Palestinians, and the Arab States have an interest in a peaceful resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict—one in which the legitimate aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for security and dignity are realized, and Israel achieves a secure and lasting peace with all of its neighbors.
The United States seeks two states living side by side in peace and security—a Jewish state of Israel, with true security, acceptance, and rights for all Israelis; and a viable, independent Palestine with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967 and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people.
From its lips …
Obama’s National Security Strategy: Advance Copy [Laura Rozen]