Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Straussian National Security Strategy?

By Daniel W. Drezner

President Trump’s first National Security Strategy was released Monday, and there have already been manymanymany takes about it. I will get to them in a second. My takeaway is a simple one: This might be the world’s first Straussian national security strategy. And by Straussian, I mean the following:
Philosophers, Straussians maintain, learned to write at two levels for two sorts of readers. On the surface, their teaching would strive to be unobjectionable to the authorities of their regime; their deepest insights—or their real opinions—would lie hidden, accessible only to those few with the intellectual penetration and patience to navigate the apparent lapses in argument, mistakes in citation, or peculiarities of presentation that had been made deliberately to draw the adept to the philosophical core of a work.
In other words, this is a strategy in which the subtext matters at least as much as the text.
To understand what I mean, you have to appreciate the ways in which this document departs from past national security strategies. These documents have been mandated for 30 years, and they have mostly stressed the continuity of American grand strategy. While the threats might have changed in the post-Cold War world, Barack Obama’s grand strategies did not repudiate George W. Bush’s grand strategies, which in turn did not repudiate Bill Clinton’s, and so forth.
That is not the case with Trump’s NSS. This NSS explicitly rejects the past 30 years of national security strategies:
Read the rest here.

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