WASHINGTON: The White House is slated to release President Barack Obama’s national security strategy on Friday, giving a broad outline for how he views his foreign policy priorities for the rest of his time in office.
The release of the document, followed by a speech from Obama’s top national security adviser, Susan Rice, will be closely parsed by foreign policy experts and the Republican controlled Congress.
The new document will update one issued in 2010, when he was only 15 months into the job. Since then, Obama has been frequently criticized at home and abroad for an overly cautious approach to foreign policy.
Obama is expected to recommit himself to lead the international coalition to degrade and defeat Islamic State militants, and to work with European allies to isolate Russia over its moves in support of rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Rice is also expected to stress Obama’s policy of shifting more economic, military and diplomatic resources to Asia.
“I believe that you will hear a full-throated affirmation of President Obama’s strategic commitment to deepening American engagement and investment in the Asia Pacific region,” a senior State Department official told reporters, speaking on background.
Obama proposed an increased $534 billion budget for the Pentagon earlier this week plus $51 billion in war funds, reflecting security challenges in the Middle East and Ukraine and plans to station more forces in the Asia-Pacific to respond to the rise of China.
If past strategies from Obama and previous presidents are any guide, the document will be long on sweeping statements and short on specific plans.
“In their aspirations, generalities and rhetoric, they often resemble most a really, really long speech,” wrote Richard Fontaine and Shawn Brimley, former White House officials from the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, respectively, and now with the Center for a New American Security.
“Don’t get your hopes up,” Fontaine and Brimley wrote in Foreign Policy magazine on Thursday.
The document is required annually under a 1986 law but in practise is delivered more sporadically.
In Obama’s 2010 strategy, which ran 52 pages, he sought to set his approach apart from that of former President George W. Bush, who asserted the right to wage pre-emptive war against those deemed a threat after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
In broad terms, it discussed the need to defeat al Qaeda, get troops out of Iraq, pursue Middle East peace, and seek a “stable, substantive, multidimensional relationship” with Russia.
The 2010 strategy also focused on the need to get the United States back on firmer economic ground after the financial crisis.