Biden’s Tall Order 

Last week, the Biden Administration released the much-anticipated National Security Strategy (NSS). The administration had faced heavy criticism for not producing the NSS sooner, as the document is meant to make clear the U.S, strategic priorities clear to the American public, Congress, and our allies. The newly released NSS has received mixed reviews. On the one hand, those in support argue that the document correctly outlines U.S. interests including the need to compete with China, contain destabilizing Russia, and address the growing issues of climate change. The NSS also puts strong emphasis on the need for cooperation among countries with shared values of democracy, especially in the face of growing belligerence from authoritarian nations that oppress their own people.

On the other hand, the main criticism of the NSS is that the policies proposed by the Biden administration attempt to accomplish too much with too little. Though the goals might be worthy, the resources allocated to achieve them will not be sufficient. Others suggest that even if the Biden administration was able to gain the substantial collection of economic, diplomatic, and military resources it needs to accomplish the goals outlined in the NSS, the American public might not support it all. Finally, others point out that it may be too hopeful given the belief that Washington can out compete China while at the same time cooperating with Beijing on “shared challenges” such as biodefense, food insecurity, and non-proliferation. Given all this, President Biden and policymakers in the administration will likely need to choose some goals over others, but there is much debate about what issue should come at the top of the list.

Questions and Background

  • What do you see as the greatest strength of the NSS released by the Biden Administration? What about its biggest shortcoming? 
  • What should the U.S. policymakers prioritize, geopolitical threats like China and Russia or transnational ones like climate and pandemics? 
  • What do you see as the biggest challenge facing U.S. foreign policy? 
  • How do you explain the decision to identify China’s military as a “pacing challenge” and the Russian military as an “acute threat?”

Why Biden’s National Security Strategy Is Destined To Fail
Mackenzie Eaglen. 1945. October 17, 2022.

Analyzing the 2022 National Security Strategy
Richard Fontaine, AHS’s Lisa Curtis, et al. CNAS. October 13, 2022. 

National Security Strategy
White House. October 12, 2022. 

Only Bipartisanship Can Defeat Authoritarian Aggression
Daniel Twining and Dan Sullivan. Foreign Affairs. August 25, 2022.

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