Of the United States of America d e c e m b e r 2 0 1 7



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PARTNERS: 

We will strengthen economic ties as a 

core aspect of our relationships with like-minded 

states and use our economic expertise, mar-

kets, and resources to bolster states threatened 

by our competitors.



DEPLOY ECONOMIC PRESSURE ON SECURITY THREATS: 

We will use existing and pursue new economic 

authorities and mobilize international actors 

to increase pressure on threats to peace and 

security in order to resolve confrontations short 

of military action.



SEVE R SOURCES OF FUNDING :

 We will deny reve-

nue to terrorists, WMD proliferators, and other 

illicit actors in order to constrain 

their ability to use and move 

funds to support hostile acts 

and operations.

Information Statecraft

America’s competitors weap-

onize information to attack the 

values and institutions that 

underpin free societies, while 

shielding themselves from out-

side information. They exploit 

marketing techniques to tar-

get individuals based upon 

t hei r  ac t iv it ies ,  i nterest s , 

opinions, and values. They disseminate mis-

i n for m at ion a nd propaga nd a .

Risks to U.S. national security will grow as com-

petitors integrate information derived from per-

sonal and commercial sources with intelligence 

collection and data analytic capabilities based 

on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learn-

ing. Breaches of U.S. commercial and govern-

ment organizations also provide adversaries with 

data and insights into their target audiences. 



America's competitors 

weaponize information 

to att ack the values and 

institutions that underpin 

free societies, while 

shielding themselves from 

outside information.

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P I L L A R   I I I :   P R E S E R V E   P E A C E   T H R O U G H   S T R E N G T H

China, for example, combines data and the use of AI 

to rate the loyalty  of its citizens to the state and uses 

these ratings to determine jobs and more. Jihadist 

terrorist groups continue to wage ideological infor-

mation campaigns to establish and legitimize their 

narrative of hate, using sophisticated communica-

tions tools to att ract recruits and encourage att acks 

against Americans and our partners. 

Russia uses information operations as part of its 

offensive cyber efforts to influence public opin-

ion across the globe. Its infl uence campaigns blend 

covert intelligence operations and false online per-

sonas with state-funded media, third-party inter-

mediaries, and paid social media users or “trolls.” 

U.S. eff orts to counter the exploitation of informa-

tion by rivals have been tepid and fragmented. U.S. 

eff orts have lacked a sustained focus and have been 

hampered by the lack of properly trained profes-

sionals. The American private sector has a direct 

interest in supporting and amplifying voices 

that stand for tolerance, openness, and freedom.

Priority  Actions 

PRIORITIZE THE COMPETITION :

 We will improve 

our understanding of how adversaries gain infor-

mational and psychological advantages across 

all policies. The United States must empower 

a true public diplomacy capability to compete 

eff ectively in this arena. 

DRIVE EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATIONS: 

We will craft 

and direct coherent communications campaigns 

to advance American infl uence and counter chal-

lenges from the ideological threats that ema-

nate from radical Islamist groups and competitor 

nations. Th ese campaigns will adhere to American 

values and expose adversary propaganda and 

disinformation. 

ACTIVATE LOCAL NETWORKS: 

Local voices are most 

compelling and effective in ideological competi-

tions. We must amplify credible voices and part-

ner with them to advance alternatives to violent 

and hateful messages. Since media and Internet 

companies are the platforms through which mes-

sages are transported, the private sector should 

lend its creativity and resources to promot-

ing the values that inspire and grow a commu-

nity of civilized groups and individuals. 

SHARE RESPONSIBILIT Y:

 The United States will 

urge states where radicalism thrives to take 

greater responsibility for countering violent 

messaging and promoting tolerant and pluralis-

tic worldviews. 



U P G R A D E ,   TA I L O R ,   A N D   I N N O V AT E :  

We w i l l 

reexamine legacy delivery platforms for com-

municating U.S. messages overseas. We must 

consider more cost-effective and efficient ways 

to deliver and evaluate content consistent with 

U.S. national security interests.


  

37

P I L L A R  I V 

Advance American Influence

 “Above all, we value the dignity  of every human life, 

protect the rights of every person, and share the hope of every soul 

to live in freedom. Th at is who we are.”

P R E S I D E N T   D O N A L D   J .   T R U M P  

|

  J U L Y   2 0 1 7



 

O

ur America First foreign policy cel-



ebrates America’s inf luence in the 

world as a positive force that can help 

set the conditions for peace and prosperity and 

for developing successful societies. 

Th ere is no arc of history that ensures that America’s 

free political and economic system will automati-

cally prevail. Success or failure depends upon our 

actions. This Administration has the confidence 

to compete to protect our values and interests and 

the fundamental principles that underpin them. 

During the Cold War, a totalitarian threat from 

the Soviet Union motivated the free world to cre-

ate coalitions in defense of liberty. Today’s chal-

lenges to free societies are just as serious, but 

more diverse. State and non-state actors proj-

ect influence and advance their objectives by 

exploiting information, democratic media free-

doms, and international institutions. Repressive 

leaders often collaborate to subvert free societies 

and corrupt multilateral organizations. 

Around the world, nations and individuals admire 

what America stands for. We treat people equally 

and value and uphold the rule of law. We have 

a democratic system that allows the best ideas 

to flourish. We know how to grow economies so 

that individuals can achieve prosperity. These 

qualities have made America the richest coun-

try on earth—rich in culture, talent, opportuni-

ties, and material wealth. 

Th e United States off ers partnership to those who 

share our aspirations for freedom and prosperity. 

We lead by example. “The world has its eye upon 

America," Alexander Hamilton once observed. “Th e 

noble struggle we have made in the cause of liberty , 

has occasioned a kind of revolution in human sen-

timent. The influence of our example has pene-

trated the gloomy regions of despotism.” 

We are not going to impose our values on oth-

ers. Our alliances, partnerships, and coalitions 

are built on free will and shared interests. When 

the United States partners with other states, we 

develop policies that enable us to achieve our 

goals while our partners achieve theirs. 

Allies and partners are a great strength of the 

United States. They add directly to U.S. politi-

cal, economic, military, intelligence, and other 

capabilities. Together, the United States and our 

allies and partners represent well over half of 

the global GDP. None of our adversaries have 

comparable coalitions. 

We encourage those who want to join our com-

munity of like-minded democratic states and 



N A T I O N A L   S E C U R I T Y   S T R A T E G Y

38

improve the condition of their peoples. By mod-



ernizing U.S. instruments of diplomacy and devel-

opment, we will catalyze conditions to help them 

achieve that goal. Th ese aspiring partners include 

states that are fragile, recovering from conflict

and seeking a path forward to 

sustainable security and eco-

nomic growth. Stable, prosper-

ous, and friendly states enhance 

American security and boost 

U.S. economic opportunities.

We will continue to cham-

pion A merica n va lues a nd 

offer encouragement to those 

struggling for huma n d ig-

nity in their societies. There 

can be no moral equivalency 

between nations that uphold the 

rule of law, empower women, 

and respect individual rights 

and those that brutalize and suppress their peo-

ple. Through our words and deeds, America 

demonstrates a positive alternative to political 

and religious despotism. 

Encourage Aspiring Partners

Some of the greatest triumphs of American state-

craft resulted from helping fragile and develop-

ing countries become successful societies. These 

successes, in turn, created profitable markets for 

American businesses, allies to help achieve favor-

able regional balances of power, and coalition part-

ners to share burdens and address a variety  of prob-

lems around the world. Over time, the United States 

has helped create a network of states that advance 

our common interests and values.

Th is historical record is unprecedented and excep-

tional. American support to aspiring partners 

enabled the recovery of the countries of Western 

Europe under the Marshall Plan, as well as the 

ongoing integration of Central and Eastern Europe 

into Western institutions after the Cold War. 

In Asia, the United States worked with South Korea 

and Japan, countries ravaged by war, to help them 

become successful democracies and among the 

most prosperous economies 

in the world. 

These achievements were prod-

ucts of patient partnerships 

with those who aspired to build 

prosperous societies and join 

the community of democratic 

states. They resulted in mutu-

ally beneficial relationships in 

which the United States helped 

states mobi li ze their ow n 

resources to achieve transitions 

to growth and stability . Working 

with these countries made the 

United States wealthier and 

more competitive. This progress illustrates how 

eff ective foreign assistance programs should reach 

their natural endpoint. 

Today, the United States must compete for positive 

relationships around the world. China and Russia 

target their investments in the developing world to 

expand infl uence and gain competitive advantages 

against the United States. China is investing bil-

lions of dollars in infrastructure across the globe. 

Russia, too, projects its influence economically, 

through the control of key energy and other infra-

structure throughout parts of Europe and Central 

Asia. Th e United States provides an alternative to 

state-directed investments, which often leave devel-

oping countries worse off. The United States pur-

sues economic ties not only for market access but 

also to create enduring relationships to advance 

common political and security interests. 

The United States will promote a development 

model that partners with countries that want prog-

ress, consistent with their culture, based on free 

market principles, fair and reciprocal trade, private 



Th ere is no arc of history 

that ensures that America’s 

free political and economic 

system will automatically 

prevail. Success or failure 

depends upon our actions.

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P I L L A R   I V :   A D V A N C E   A M E R I C A N   I N F L U E N C E

sector activity, and rule of law. The United States 

will shift away from a reliance on assistance based 

on grants to approaches that att ract private capital 

and catalyze private sector activity . We will empha-

size reforms that unlock the economic potential of 

citizens, such as the promotion of formal property  

rights, entrepreneurial reforms, and infrastruc-

ture improvements—projects that help people earn 

their livelihood and have the added benefi t of help-

ing U.S. businesses. By mobilizing both public and 

private resources, the United States can help maxi-

mize returns and outcomes and reduce the burden 

on U.S. Government resources. Unlike the state-di-

rected mercantilism of some competitors that 

can disadvantage recipient nations and promote 

dependency, the purpose of U.S. foreign assistance 

should be to end the need for it. Th e United States 

seeks strong partners, not weak ones.

U.S. development assistance must support 

America’s national interests. We will prioritize col-

laboration with aspiring partners that are aligned 

with U.S. interests. We will focus on development 

investments where we can have the most impact—

where local reformers are committed to tackling 

their economic and political challenges.

Within this framework, the United States will 

also assist fragile states to prevent threats to the 

U.S. homeland. Transnational threat organiza-

tions, such as jihadist terrorists and organized 

crime, often operate freely from fragile states 

and undermine sovereign governments. Failing 

states can destabilize entire regions. 

Across Africa, Latin America, and Asia, states are 

eager for investments and financing to develop 

their infrastructure and propel growth. The 

United States and its partners have opportuni-

ties to work with countries to help them real-

ize their potential as prosperous and sovereign 

states that are accountable to their people. Such 

states can become trading partners that buy more 

American-made goods and create more predict-

able business environments that benefi t American 

companies. American-led investments represent 

the most sustainable and responsible approach 

to development and offer a stark contrast to 

the corrupt, opaque, exploitive, and low-qual-

ity deals offered by authoritarian states.

Priority  Actions: 

Developing Countries

M O B I L I Z E   R E S O U R C E S :  

The United States will 

modernize its development finance tools so that 

U.S. companies have incentives to capitalize on 

opportunities in developing countries. With 

these changes, the United States will not be left 

behind as other states use investment and proj-

ect finance to extend their influence. In addi-

tion, the U.S. Government must not be an obsta-

cle to U.S. companies that want to conduct 

business in the developing world. 

CAPITALIZE ON NEW TECHNOLOGIES: 

We will incor-

porate innovative technologies in our diplo-

matic and development programs. For exam-

ple, digital technologies enable millions to access 

financial services through their cell phones and 

can connect farmers to markets. Such technol-

ogies can reduce corruption, increase trans-

parency, and help ensure that money reaches 

its intended destination. 



INCENTIVIZE REFORMS:

 The United States will use 

diplomacy and assistance to encourage states to 

make choices that improve governance, rule of 

law, and sustainable development. We already 

do this through the Millennium Challenge 

Corporation, which selects countries that are 

committed to reform and then monitors and 

evaluates their projects.

Priority  Actions: Fragile States

COM MIT SE LEC TIVE LY:

 We will give priority to 

strengthening states where state weaknesses or 

failure would magnify threats to the American 



N A T I O N A L   S E C U R I T Y   S T R A T E G Y

40

homela nd . For i n st a nc e , enga gement i n 



Afghanistan seeks to prevent the reemergence of 

terrorist safe havens. 



WORK WITH REFORMERS: 

Political problems are at 

the root of most state fragility. The United States 

will prioritize programs that empower reform-

minded governments, people, and civil society . As 

the United States designs its efforts, inputs from 

local actors improve the likelihood of enduring 

solutions, reduce costs, and increase accountabil-

ity to the American taxpayer. 

SYNCHRONIZE ACTIONS: 

The United States must 

use its diplomatic, economic, and military tools 

simultaneously when assisting aspiring part-

ners. We will place a priority on economic 

support that achieves local and macroeconomic 

stability, helps build capable security forces, and 

strengthens the rule of law. 

Achieve Bett er Outcomes 

in Multilateral Forums

The United States must lead and engage in the 

multinational arrangements that shape many 

of the rules that affect U.S. interests and values. 

A competition for influence exists in these insti-

tutions. As we participate in them, we must pro-

tect American sovereignty  and advance American 

interests and values. 

A range of international institutions establishes 

the rules for how states, businesses, and individ-

uals interact with each other, across land and sea, 

the Arctic, outer space, and the digital realm. It is 

vital to U.S. prosperity  and security  that these insti-

tutions uphold the rules that help keep these com-

mon domains open and free. Free access to the seas 

remains a central principle of national security 

and economic prosperity, and exploration of sea 

and space provides opportunities for commercial 

gain and scientifi c breakthroughs. Th e fl ow of data 

and an open, interoperable Internet are insepara-

ble from the success of the U.S. economy. 

Authoritarian actors have long recognized the 

power of multilateral bodies and have used them 

to advance their interests and limit the freedom 

of their own citizens. If the United States cedes 

leadership of these bodies to adversaries, oppor-

tunities to shape developments that are posi-

tive for the United States will be lost. All institu-

tions are not equal, however. The United States 

will prioritize its efforts in those organizations 

that serve American interests, to ensure that 

they are strengthened and supportive of the 

United States, our allies, and our partners. Where 

existing institutions and rules need moderniz-

ing, the United States will lead to update them. 

At the same time, it should be clear that the United 

States will not cede sovereignty  to those that claim 

authority over American citizens and are in con-

flict with our constitutional framework. 



Priority  Actions 

EXERCISE LEADERSHIP IN POLITICAL AND SECURITY 

BODIES: 

Th e United States will strive for outcomes 

in political and security forums that are consis-

tent with U.S. interests and values—values which 

are shared by our allies and partners. The United 

Nations can help contribute to solving many of 

the complex problems in the world, but it must be 

reformed and recommit to its founding princi-

ples. We will require accountability and empha-

size shared responsibility among members. If the 

United States is asked to provide a disproportion-

ate level of support for an institution, we will expect 

a commensurate degree of influence over the 

direction and efforts of that institution. 



SHAPE AND REFORM INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL AND 

TRADE INSTITUTIONS: 

Th e United States will continue 

to play a leading role in institutions such as the 

International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, 

and World Trade Organization (WTO), but will 


41

P I L L A R   I V :   A D V A N C E   A M E R I C A N   I N F L U E N C E

improve their performance through reforms. Th ese 

reforms include encouraging multilateral devel-

opment banks to invest in high-quality  infrastruc-

ture projects that promote economic growth. We 

will press to make the WTO a more eff ective forum 

to adjudicate unfair trade practices. 



E N S U R E   C O M M O N   D O M A I N S 

REMAIN FREE:

 Th e United States 

will provide leadership and 

technology to shape and gov-

ern common domains—space, 

cyberspace, air, and mari-

time—within the framework of 

international law. The United 

States supports the peace-

fu l resolution of disputes 

under international law but 

will use all of its instruments 

of power to defend U.S. inter-

ests and to ensure common 

domains remain free. 

P R O T E C T   A   F R E E   A N D   O P E N 

INTE RNET:

 The United States 

will advocate for open, interoperable commu-

nications, with minimal barriers to the global 

exchange of information and services. Th e United 

States will promote the free flow of data and pro-

tect its interests through active engagement in key 

organizations, such as the Internet Corporation 

for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the 

Internet Governance Forum (IGF), the UN, and the 

International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Champion American Values

The extraordinary trajectory of the United States 

from a group of colonies to a thriving, industrial-

ized, sovereign republic—the world's lone super-

power—is a testimony to the strength of the idea 

on which our Nation is founded, namely that 

each of our citizens is born free and equal under 

the law. America’s core principles, enshrined in 

the Declaration of Independence, are secured by 

the Bill of Rights, which proclaims our respect 

for fundamental individual liberties beginning 

with the freedoms of religion, speech, the press, 

and assembly. Liberty, free enterprise, equal 

justice under the law, and the dignity of every 

human life are central to who 

we are as a people. 

Th ese principles form the foun-

dation of our most endur-

ing alliances, and the United 

States will continue to cham-

pion them. Governments that 

respect the rights of their cit-

izens remain the best vehi-

cle for prosperity, human hap-

piness, and peace. In contrast, 

governments that routinely 

abuse the rights of their citi-

zens do not play constructive 

roles in the world. For example, 

governments that fail to treat 

women equally do not allow 

their societies to reach their potential. 

No nation can unilaterally alleviate all human 

suffering, but just because we cannot help every-

one does not mean that we should stop trying 

to help anyone. For much of the world, America’s 

liberties are inspirational, and the United States 

will always stand with those who seek free-

dom. We will remain a beacon of liberty and 

opportunity around the world. 

The United States also remains committed to 

supporting and advancing religious freedom—

America’s first freedom. Our Founders under-

stood religious freedom not as the state’s creation, 

but as the gift of God to every person and a funda-

mental right for our flourishing society. 

And it is part of our culture, as well as in America’s 

interest, to help those in need and those trying to 

For much of the world, 

America’s liberties are 

inspirational, and the United 

States will always stand 

with those who seek freedom. 

We will remain a beacon 

of liberty  and opportunity  

around the world. 


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42

build a bett er future for their families. We aid oth-



ers judiciously, aligning our means to our objec-

tives, but with a firm belief that we can improve 

the lives of others while establishing conditions 

for a more secure and prosperous world. 



Priority  Actions 

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