On January 20th, CBS News bannered “Terrorism no longer the military's top priority, Mattis says” and opened:
“There is a major change in US military strategy. On Friday, more than 16 years after the 9/11 attacks, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said terrorism is no longer the No. 1 priority.”
The report said, “Maintaining a military advantage over China and Russia is now Defense Secretary Mattis' top priority.”
On January 18th, the Trump Administration had issued its crucial document about how it will implement America’s national defense from now on. This document, the National Defense Strategy 2018, represents a continuation of US President Barack Obama’s vision and intentions, but extends Obama’s hostility toward Russia, by adding Trump’s hostility toward China.
In December 2017, US President Donald Trump had issued his National Security Strategy 2018 (the NSS2018); but, in keeping with his prior commitment to leaving to the generals the implementation of his national security policy, the Pentagon has now issued this National Defense Strategy 2018 (the NDS2018), which is signed only by Trump’s minister for war (Secretary of ‘Defense’), “Jim Mattis”; and it’s considerably more informative on what the practical meaning of NSS2018 will be. The meaning is: the replacement of hostility against “radical Islamic terrorism,” by hostility against Russia and China — this, the building upon Obama’s imperial vision, is now Trump’s ‘Defense’ policy. Trump’s campaign talk against ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ was merely bumper-sticker stuff, to win votes.
In continuation from Obama's National Security Strategy 2015, which had accused Russia 18 times of “aggression,” Trump’s National Defense Strategy 2018 (NDS2018) effectively declares at least an economic war against Russia (as if economics were also in General Mattis’s portfolio), but it goes even further to include China as being now also America’s enemy. It thus officially restores, in effect, the Cold War — the war against communism — that had existed until US President Richard Nixon’s visit to China, during 21 to 28 February 1972. It also intensifies the war against Russia, even now, 37 years after the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union and end of its Warsaw Pact and end of its communism, had ended the Cold War (but only on Russia’s side, not really on America’s).
Trump’s new document (through his agent Mattis) says that non-state terrorism (Al Qaeda, etc.) is no longer the biggest threat to America’s security; these two “authoritarian” nations pose the biggest threat to America, says the NDS2018. This document asserts: “It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model — gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions.”
(“Authoritarian” is now what “communist” once was — the US Government’s verbal bugaboo and America’s official excuse for invasions and coups.) It continues:
The central challenge to US prosperity and security is the reemergence of long-term, strategic competition by what the National Security Strategy classifies as revisionist powers. It is increasingly clear that China and Russia want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model — gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions.
China is leveraging military modernization, influence operations, and predatory economics to coerce neighboring countries to reorder the Indo-Pacific region to their advantage. As China continues its economic and military ascendance, asserting power through an all-of-nation long-term strategy, it will continue to pursue a military modernization program that seeks Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term and displacement of the United States to achieve global preeminence in the future. The most far-reaching objective of this defense strategy is to set the military relationship between our two countries on a path of transparency and non-aggression.
Concurrently, Russia seeks veto authority over nations on its periphery in terms of their governmental, economic, and diplomatic decisions, to shatter the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and change European and Middle East security and economic structures to its favor. The use of emerging technologies to discredit and subvert democratic processes in Georgia, Crimea, and eastern Ukraine is concern enough, but when coupled with its expanding and modernizing nuclear arsenal the challenge is clear.
It then says, “Rogue regimes such as North Korea and Iran are destabilizing regions through their pursuit of nuclear weapons or sponsorship of terrorism.” So: those four countries — China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran — are now the top targets for the US military to defeat.
The NDS2018 document continues, “Both revisionist powers and rogue regimes are competing across all dimensions of power. They have increased efforts short of armed conflict by expanding coercion to new fronts, violating principles of sovereignty, exploiting ambiguity, and deliberately blurring the lines between civil and military goals.”
Right now, the US is militarily occupying, as an uninvited invading power violating the sovereignty of parts of the sovereign nation of Syria, whose internationally recognized (except by the US and its vassal-states) Government is the one that had won internationally monitored elections in 2014, and whose incumbent President Bashar al-Assad won, in those elections, 89% of the vote throughout the entire country. Even independent Western-sponsored polling in Syria has repeatedly shown that Assad would easily win any national election in his country, and that 82% of Syrians blame the US Government (not Assad) for having brought the tens of thousands of jihadists into their country and caused the Syrian war that destroyed the nation. On 31 October 2015, U.N. Secretary General Ban ki-Moon twice criticized US President Barack Obama’s refusal to allow the Syrian people to determine whom their President would be. Ban said, “The future of Assad must be determined by the Syrian people,” but the US Government kept ignoring him on that; and US President Trump’s minister of war now says that the way to defeat countries that are “violating principles of sovereignty” is to continue occupying countries that never invited them in.
Under the heading “Build a More Lethal Force,” the NDS2018 document says, "The surest way to prevent war is to be prepared to win one.” To do this, it will rely on “the Joint Force” (which the document fails to define) in this way:
Prioritize preparedness for war. Achieving peace through strength requires the Joint Force to deter conflict through preparedness for war. During normal day-to-day operations, the Joint Force will sustainably compete to: deter aggression in three key regions — the Indo-Pacific, Europe, and Middle East; degrade terrorist and WMD threats; and defend US interests from challenges below the level of armed conflict. In wartime, the fully mobilized Joint Force will be capable of: defeating aggression by a major power; deterring opportunistic aggression elsewhere; and disrupting imminent terrorist and WMD threats. During peace or in war, the Joint Force will deter nuclear and non-nuclear strategic attacks and defend the homeland. To support these missions, the Joint Force must gain and maintain information superiority; and develop, strengthen, and sustain US security relationships.
The document sub-heads “Strengthen Alliances and Attract New Partners,” and says, "By working together with allies and partners we amass the greatest possible strength for the long-term advancement of our interests, maintaining favorable balances of power that deter aggression and support the stability that generates economic growth.” This includes "Fortify the Trans-Atlantic NATO Alliance” but is global.
This document thus actually embodies, but in some ways extends and amplifies, US President Barack Obama’s 28 May 2014 statement to America’s graduating class at the West Point Military Academy:
The United States is and remains the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century passed and it will be true for the century to come. … Russia’s aggression toward former Soviet states unnerves capitals in Europe, while China’s economic rise and military reach worries its neighbors. From Brazil to India, rising middle classes compete with us, and governments seek a greater say in global forums. … It will be your generation’s task to respond to this new world.
To Obama, all nations other than the US — even America’s allies — are “dispensable”; only the US is not. Hitler’s version was “Deutschland über alles”; and, like Amerika’s version, it comes from the accepted popular culture, not from the imperialist’s own overheated imagination. In fact, Americans respect the military above all other institutions — more than all the rest of the Government — just like Germans did, leading up to Hitler. And, just like Donald Trump himself does. Amerika isn’t Athens; it is Sparta.
As I had previously noted under the headline "Trump Continues Obama’s Wars Against Democracy”: “He was telling the military that America’s economic competition, against the BRICS nations, is a key matter for America’s military, and not only for America’s private corporations.”
However, even General Mattis has now acknowledged that one important component of achieving this global empire will be to “Strengthen Alliances and Attract New Partners,” which now seems less likely under Trump than it was under Obama.
Perhaps the Trump Administration will try to compensate for that area of increasing US weakness, by increasing even more its weaponry and troop-numbers.
Here, to close, are highlights from Secretary Mattis’s speech, on January 19th, introducing NDS2018:
This defense strategy was framed ... by President Trump's National Security Strategy. … It is, as was noted by the dean, our nation's first National Defense Strategy in 10 years. ...
We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists that we are engaged in today, but Great Power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of US national security. …
We face growing threats from revisionist powers as different as China and Russia are from each other, nations that do seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models, pursuing veto authority over other nations' economic, diplomatic and security decisions.
Rogue regimes like North Korea and Iran persist in taking outlaw actions that threaten regional and even global stability. Oppressing their own people and shredding their own people's dignity and human rights, they push their warped views outward. …
We're going to build a more lethal force. We will strengthen our traditional alliances and building new partnerships with other nations.
The second line of effort I noted was to strengthen alliances as we build new partnerships, as well.
History proves that nations with allies thrive.