What the National Security Strategy Says about Global Development


Each United States President has taken a unique stand on foreign policy and national security, but rarely is this stand made as clear as the National Security Strategy Report, a clear outline of major national security concerns and methods to address them. The latest National Security Strategy Report is President Obama’s only one so far, and notably, global development is an integral part of each pillar of his National Security Strategy.

The Report was released in May 2010 by the White House under the signature of President Barack Obama. It outlines key points of a strategy “that rebuilds the foundation of American strength and influence.” President Obama’s four pillars of national security are identified in the National Security Strategy as (a) security, (b) prosperity, (c) values, and (d) international order.

Each pillar touches on the issue of global development, emphasizing why global development will help the United States to address what it sees to be national security concerns. The pillar of security, for example, emphasizes state stability in a variety of ways — military, government, diplomacy, and economy — and the “responsible transition” to promoting sovereignty and self-reliance in the Middle East/North Africa region. How this should be addressed is clearly stated: economic investment and development in such nations as Iraq, Afghanistan, and even the Palestinian state. It is clear that meeting global development needs is a core component of the pillar of security.

Global development is extensively addressed in the pillar of prosperity; domestic and international contexts require sustainable global development, both short- and long-term. “Sustained economic progress requires faster, sustainable, and more inclusive development,” the Report reads. “That is why we are pursuing a range of specific initiatives in areas such as food security and global health that will be essential to the future security and prosperity of nations and peoples around the globe.” Equally important is the recognition and reward of governments that can manage development challenges in accountability and help their citizens out of poverty and health crises.

“The United States believes certain values are universal and will work to promote them worldwide,” the Report reads. In the pillar aptly labeled “Values,” these universal values — freedom of speech, assembly, worship, representative government, and freedom from want — are highlighted. Part of the National Security Strategy, therefore, is to address basic needs that cannot morally be ignored — global health improvement, establishment of food security, and meeting needs in the wake of humanitarian crises. Furthermore, in this section the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals are affirmed as part of the United States’ aim to promote dignity by meeting basic needs. “Our values have been our best national security asset,” writes President Obama in the section’s epigraph. “Fidelity to our values is the reason why the United States of America grew from a small string of colonies under the writ of an empire to the strongest nation in the world.”

The final pillar stressed in the National Security Strategy Report is international order. In order for each country worldwide to effectively and responsibly pursue its goals, the world must be unified in the face of obstacles to every nation: food insecurity, global health challenges, terrorism, and poor international cooperation. As such, the United States must develop and affirm partnerships with other countries in order to achieve a global environment where each nation can thrive economically and socially. It is also in this section that the United States’ coordination with the United Nations is affirmed once again, promising an intensification of efforts to “strengthen the U.N.’s leadership and operational capacity in peacekeeping, humanitarian relief, post-disaster recovery, development assistance, and the promotion of human rights.”

The latest National Security Strategy was released three years ago this month. While the international playing field certainly has evolved since then, the Report represents a step forward for the fight against global poverty. This administration recognizes global development as not only the moral thing, but beneficial for national security, international stability, and the development of markets abroad.

– Naomi Doraisamy

Source: The White House
Photo: Tumblr


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