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


SUPPORT THE DIGNITY OF INDIVIDUALS



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SUPPORT THE DIGNITY OF INDIVIDUALS: 

We support, 

with our words and actions, those who live under 

oppressive regimes and who seek freedom, indi-

vidual dignity, and the rule of law. We are under 

no obligation to offer the benefits of our free and 

prosperous community  to repressive regimes and 

human rights abusers. We may use diplomacy, 

sanctions, and other tools to isolate states and lead-

ers who threaten our interests and whose actions 

run contrary to our values. We will not remain 

silent in the face of evil. We will hold perpetra-

tors of genocide and mass atrocities accountable.

DEFEAT TRANSNATIONAL TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS: 

There can be no greater action to advance the 

rights of individuals than to defeat jihadist terror-

ists and other groups that foment hatred and use 

violence to advance their supremacist Islamist ide-

ologies. We will continue to join with other states to 

defeat this scourge of all civilized peoples.

E M P OW E R   WO M E N   A N D   YO U T H :

 Societies that 

empower women to participate fully in civic and 

economic life are more prosperous and peace-

ful. We will support efforts to advance wom-

en’s equality, protect the rights of women and 

girls, and promote women and youth empower-

ment programs. 



P R O T E C T   R E L I G I O U S   F R E E D O M   A N D   R E L I G I O U S 

MINORITIES:

 We will advocate on behalf of religious 

freedom and threatened minorities. Religious 

minorities continue to be victims of violence. We 

will place a priority on protecting these groups 

and will continue working with regional partners 

to protect minority communities from attacks 

and to preserve their cultural heritage. 



REDUCE HUMAN SUFFERING:

 Th e United States will 

continue to lead the world in humanitarian assis-

tance. Even as we expect others to share respon-

sibility, the United States will continue to cata-

lyze international responses to man-made and 

natural disasters and provide our expertise and 

capabilities to those in need. We will support 

food security and health programs that save lives 

and address the root cause of hunger and dis-

ease. We will support displaced people close to 

their homes to help meet their needs until they 

can safely and voluntarily return home.


  

45

The Strategy 

in a Regional Context

The United States must tailor our approaches to different regions of the 

world to protect U.S. national interests. We require integrated regional strat-

egies that appreciate the nature and magnitude of threats, the intensity  of 

competitions, and the promise of available opportunities, all in the context 

of local political, economic, social, and historical realities.

C

hanges in a regional balance of power can 



have global consequences and threaten 

U.S. interests. Markets, raw materi-

als, lines of communication, and human capital 

are located within, or move among, key regions 

of the world. China and Russia aspire to proj-

ect power worldwide, but they interact most with 

their neighbors. North Korea and Iran also pose 

the greatest menace to those closest to them. But, 

as destructive weapons proliferate and regions 

become more interconnected, threats become 

more difficult to contain. And regional balances 

that shift against the United States could combine 

to threaten our security. 

The United States must marshal the will and 

capabilities to compete and prevent unfavorable 

shifts in the Indo-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle 

East. Sustaining favorable balances of power will 

require a strong commitment and close cooper-

ation with allies and partners because allies and 

partners magnify  U.S. power and extend U.S. infl u-

ence. They share our interests and responsibility 

for resisting authoritarian trends, contesting radi-

cal ideologies, and deterring aggression. 

In other regions of the world, instability  and weak 

governance threaten U.S. interests. Some gov-

ernments are unable to maintain security and 

meet the basic needs of their people, making 

their country and citizens vulnerable to preda-

tors. Terrorists and criminals thrive where gov-

ernments are weak, corruption is rampant, and 

faith in government institutions is low. Strategic 

competitors often exploit rather than discour-

age corruption and state weakness to extract 

resources and exploit their populations. 

Regions afflicted by instability and weak govern-

ments also offer opportunities to improve secu-

rity , promote prosperity , and restore hope. Aspiring 

partner states across the developing world want 

to improve their societies, build transparent and 

eff ective governments, confront non-state threats, 

and strengthen their sovereignty. Many recog-

nize the opportunities offered by market econo-

mies and political liberties and are eager for part-

nership with the United States and our allies. Th e 

United States will encourage aspiring partners as 

they undertake reforms and pursue their aspira-

tions. States that prosper and nations that tran-

sition from recipients of development assistance 

to trading partners offer economic opportunities 

for American businesses. And stability reduces 

threats that target Americans at home.

Indo-Pacifi c 

A geopolitical competition between free and 

repressive visions of world order is taking place in 

the Indo-Pacifi c region. Th e region, which stretches 


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

46

from the west coast of India to the western shores 



of the United States, represents the most populous 

and economically dynamic part of the world. The 

U.S. interest in a free and open Indo-Pacifi c extends 

back to the earliest days of our republic. 

Although the United States seeks to continue to 

cooperate with China, China 

is using economic induce-

ments and penalties, inf lu-

ence operations, and implied 

military threats to persuade 

other states to heed its political 

and security agenda. China’s 

infrastructure investments 

and trade strategies reinforce 

its geopolitical aspirations. 

Its efforts to build and mili-

tarize outposts in the South 

China Sea endanger the free 

fl ow of trade, threaten the sov-

ereignty of other nations, and 

undermine regional stabil-

ity. China has mounted a rapid military modern-

ization campaign designed to limit U.S. access to 

the region and provide China a freer hand there. 

China presents its ambitions as mutually ben-

eficial, but Chinese dominance risks diminish-

ing the sovereignty of many states in the Indo-

Pacific. States throughout the region are calling 

for sustained U.S. leadership in a collective 

response that upholds a regional order respect-

ful of sovereignty and independence. 

In Northeast Asia, the North Korean regime is 

rapidly accelerating its cyber, nuclear, and bal-

listic missile programs. North Korea’s pur-

suit of these weapons poses a global threat that 

requires a global response. Continued provo-

cations by North Korea will prompt neighbor-

ing countries and the United States to further 

strengthen security bonds and take additional 

measures to protect themselves. And a nucle-

ar-armed North Korea could lead to the prolif-

eration of the world’s most destructive weapons 

across the Indo-Pacifi c region and beyond.

U.S. allies are critical to responding to mutual 

threats, such as North Korea, and preserving our 

mutual interests in the Indo-Pacific region. Our 

alliance and friendship with South Korea, forged 

by the trials of history, is stron-

ger than ever. We welcome 

and support the strong lead-

ership role of our critical ally, 

Japan. Australia has fought 

alongside us in every signif-

icant conf lict since World 

War I, and continues to rein-

force economic and security 

arrangements that support our 

shared interests and safeguard 

democratic va lues across 

the region. New Zealand is 

a key U.S. partner contrib-

uting to peace and security 

across the region. We welcome 

India’s emergence as a leading global power and 

stronger strategic and defense partner. We will 

seek to increase quadrilateral cooperation with 

Japan, Australia, and India. 

In Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Thailand 

rema in importa nt a llies a nd ma rkets for 

Americans. Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and 

Singapore are growing security and economic 

partners of the United States. The Association of 

Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Asia-Pacifi c 

Economic Cooperation (APEC) remain centerpieces 

of the Indo-Pacifi c’s regional architecture and plat-

forms for promoting an order based on freedom.



Priority  Actions 

POLITICAL: 

Our vision for the Indo-Pacifi c excludes 

no nation. We will redouble our commitment to 

established alliances and partnerships, while 

expanding and deepening relationships with new 

Sustaining favorable balances 

of power will require a 

strong commitment and close 

cooperation with allies and 

partners because allies and 

partners magnify  U.S. power 

and extend U.S. infl uence.


47

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

partners that share respect for sovereignty , fair and 

reciprocal trade, and the rule of law. We will rein-

force our commitment to freedom of the seas and 

the peaceful resolution of territorial and maritime 

disputes in accordance with international law. 

We will work with allies and partners to achieve 

complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclear-

ization on the Korean Peninsula and preserve 

the non-proliferation regime in Northeast Asia. 

ECON OM IC: 

The United States will encourage 

regional cooperation to maintain free and open 

seaways, transparent infrastructure financing 

practices, unimpeded commerce, and the peace-

ful resolution of disputes. We will pursue bilateral 

trade agreements on a fair and reciprocal basis. We 

will seek equal and reliable access for American 

exports. We will work with partners to build a net-

work of states dedicated to free markets and pro-

tected from forces that would subvert their sover-

eignty . We will strengthen cooperation with allies 

on high-quality infrastructure. Working with 

Australia and New Zealand, we will shore up frag-

ile partner states in the Pacific Islands region to 

reduce their vulnerability to economic fluctu-

ations and natural disasters. 

MILITARY AND SECURITY: 

We will maintain a forward 

military presence capable of deterring and, if nec-

essary, defeating any adversary. We will strengthen 

our long-standing military relationships and 

encourage the development of a strong defense net-

work with our allies and partners. For example, 

we will cooperate on missile defense with Japan 

and South Korea to move toward an area defense 

capability . We remain ready to respond with over-

whelming force to North Korean aggression and 

will improve options to compel denuclearization 

of the peninsula. We will improve law enforce-

ment, defense, and intelligence cooperation with 

Southeast Asian partners to address the growing 

terrorist threat. We will maintain our strong ties 

with Taiwan in accordance with our “One China” 

policy, including our commitments under the 

Taiwan Relations Act to provide for Taiwan’s legit-

imate defense needs and deter coercion. We will 

expand our defense and security  cooperation with 

India, a Major Defense Partner of the United States, 

and support India’s growing relationships through-

out the region. We will re-energize our alliances 

with the Philippines and Th ailand and strengthen 

our partnerships with Singapore, Vietnam, 

Indonesia, Malaysia, and others to help them 

become cooperative maritime partners. 

Europe 

A strong and free Europe is of vital importance to 



the United States. We are bound together by our 

shared commitment to the principles of democracy, 

individual liberty , and the rule of law. Together, we 

rebuilt Western Europe after World War II and cre-

ated institutions that produced stability  and wealth 

on both sides of the Atlantic. Today, Europe is one 

of the most prosperous regions in the world and 

our most signifi cant trading partner. 

Although the menace of Soviet communism is 

gone, new threats test our will. Russia is using 

subversive measures to weaken the credibil-

ity of America’s commitment to Europe, under-

mine transatlantic unity, and weaken European 

institutions and governments. With its inva-

sions of Georgia and Ukraine, Russia demon-

strated its willingness to violate the sovereignty 

of states in the region. Russia continues to intim-

idate its neighbors with threatening behavior, 

such as nuclear posturing and the forward deploy-

ment of offensive capabilities. 

China is gaining a strategic foothold in Europe by 

expanding its unfair trade practices and invest-

ing in key industries, sensitive technologies, and 

infrastructure. Europe also faces immediate 

threats from violent Islamist extremists. Attacks 

by ISIS and other jihadist groups in Spain, France, 

Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, 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

48

other countries show that our European partners 



continue to face serious threats. Instability in the 

Middle East and Africa has triggered the movement 

of millions of migrants and refugees into Europe, 

exacerbating instability  and tensions in the region. 

Th e United States is safer when Europe is prosper-

ous and stable, and can help defend our shared 

interests and ideals. The United States remains 

fi rmly committ ed to our European allies and part-

ners. The NATO alliance of free and sovereign 

states is one of our great advantages over our com-

petitors, and the United States remains commit-

ted to Article V of the Washington Treaty . 

European allies and partners increase our strate-

gic reach and provide access to forward basing and 

overflight rights for global operations. Together 

we confront shared threats. European nations 

are contributing thousands of troops to help fi ght 

jihadist terrorists in Afghanistan, stabilize Iraq, 

and fight terrorist organizations across Africa 

and the greater Middle East.

Th e NATO alliance will become stronger when all 

members assume greater responsibility for and 

pay their fair share to protect our mutual interests

sovereignty, and values. 



Priority  Actions

POLITICAL: 

Th e United States will deepen collabora-

tion with our European allies and partners to con-

front forces threatening to undermine our com-

mon values, security  interests, and shared vision. 

The United States and Europe will work together 

to counter Russian subversion and aggression, 

and the threats posed by North Korea and Iran. 

We will continue to advance our shared princi-

ples and interests in international forums. 



ECONOMIC: 

The United States will work with the 

European Union, and bilaterally with the United 

Kingdom and other states, to ensure fair and recip-

rocal trade practices and eliminate barriers to 

growth. We will encourage European foreign direct 

investment in the United States to create jobs. We 

will work with our allies and partners to diver-

sify  European energy sources to ensure the energy 

security of European countries. We will work 

with our partners to contest China’s unfair trade 

and economic practices and restrict its acquisi-

tion of sensitive technologies.

MILITARY AND SECURIT Y:

 The United States ful-

fills our defense responsibilities and expects oth-

ers to do the same. We expect our European allies 

to increase defense spending to 2 percent of gross 

domestic product by 2024, with 20 percent of this 

spending devoted to increasing military capa-

bilities. On NATO’s eastern flank we will con-

tinue to strengthen deterrence and defense, and 

catalyze frontline allies and partners’ efforts 

to better defend themselves. We will work with 

NATO to improve its integrated air and mis-

sile defense capabilities to counter existing and 

projected ballistic and cruise missile threats, 

particularly from Iran. We will increase counter-

terrorism and cybersecurity  cooperation. 

Middle East

The United States seeks a Middle East that is 

not a safe haven or breeding ground for jihadist 

terrorists, not dominated by any power hostile to 

the United States, and that contributes to a stable 

global energy market. 

For years, the interconnected problems of Iranian 

expansion, state collapse, jihadist ideology, 

socio-economic stagnation, and regional rival-

ries have convulsed the Middle East. The United 

States has learned that neither aspirations for dem-

ocratic transformation nor disengagement can 

insulate us from the region’s problems. We must 

be realistic about our expectations for the region 

without allowing pessimism to obscure our inter-

ests or vision for a modern Middle East. 



49

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

Th e region remains home to the world’s most dan-

gerous terrorist organizations. ISIS and al-Qa’ida 

thrive on instability  and export violent jihad. Iran, 

the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, has 

taken advantage of instability to expand its influ-

ence through partners and proxies, weapon prolif-

eration, and funding. It continues to develop more 

capable ballistic missiles and intelligence capa-

bilities, and it undertakes malicious cyber activ-

ities. These activities have continued unabated 

since the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran continues to per-

petuate the cycle of violence in the region, caus-

ing grievous harm to civilian populations. Rival 

states are filling vacuums created by state col-

lapse and prolonged regional conflict. 

Despite these challenges, there are emerging 

opportunities to advance American interests in 

the Middle East. Some of our partners are working 

together to reject radical ideologies, and key lead-

ers are calling for a rejection of Islamist extrem-

ism and violence. Encouraging 

political stability and sustain-

able prosperity would contrib-

ute to dampening the conditions 

that fuel sectarian grievances. 

Fo r   g e n e r a t i o n s   t h e   c o n -

f lict between Israel and the 

Palestinians has been under-

stood as the prime irrita nt 

preventing peace a nd pros-

perity in the region. Today, 

the threats from jihadist ter-

rorist organizations and the 

threat from Iran are creating the realization that 

Israel is not the cause of the region’s problems. 

States have increasingly found common inter-

ests with Israel in confronting common threats. 

Today, the United States has the opportunity to 

catalyze greater economic and political cooper-

ation that will expand prosperity for those who 

want to partner with us. By revitalizing partner-

ships with reform-minded nations and encour-

aging cooperation among partners in the region, 

the United States can promote stability and a bal-

ance of power that favors U.S. interests.

Priority  Actions

POLITICAL: 

We will strengthen partnerships, and 

form new ones, to help advance security through 

stability. Whenever possible, we will encourage 

gradual reforms. We will support eff orts to counter 

violent ideologies and increase respect for the dig-

nity  of individuals. We remain committ ed to help-

ing our partners achieve a stable and prosperous 

region, including through a strong and integrated 

Gulf Cooperation Council. We will strengthen our 

long-term strategic partnership with Iraq as an 

independent state. We will seek a sett lement to the 

Syrian civil war that sets the conditions for refu-

gees to return home and rebuild their lives in safety . 

We will work with partners to deny the Iranian 

regime all paths to a nuclear 

weapon and neutralize Iranian 

malign inf luence. We remain 

committed to helping facilitate 

a comprehensive peace agree-

ment that is acceptable to both 

Israelis and Palestinians.



E CO N O M I C : 

The United States 

will support the reforms under-

way that begin to address core 

inequities that jihadist terror-

ists exploit. We will encourage 

states in the region, including 

Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to continue moderniz-

ing their economies. We will play a role in catalyz-

ing positive developments by engaging economi-

cally, supporting reformers, and championing the 

benefits of open markets and societies. 



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