Critique of Obama’s National Security Strategy

The Obama administration recently released its long-anticipated second National Security Strategy, having published its first back in 2010. The National Security Strategy is a document outlining major national security concerns for the United States, produced periodically for Congress to communicate the Executive Branch’s strategic vision to Congress. Obama’s initial NSS broadened the definition of American strategic priorities, emphasized the importance of alliances and heralded the end of terrorism; in its new incarnation, the NSS attempts to address these points in the context of current global events.

James Jeffrey critiques Obama’s National Security Strategy “2.0” report in his opinion piece for the Washington Post. Jeffrey writes that the report is more of a “dry inventory of aspirations” than a true strategy, revealing Obama’s “troubling view of the world.” Jeffrey’s overarching critique is of Obama’s dismissive approach to the use of military force; the author argues that Obama is ignoring obvious military threats to the global security order from Russia, the Islamic State, Iran and China in favor of pushing four interrelated security themes.

The author enumerates these themes as follows:
1. The use of force is counterproductive, and those who use force to advance their agenda will ultimately be determined as losers by history;
2. The United States runs serious risks of over-commitment and disaster should it choose to act militarily;
3. There is “no military solution” to anything (though Jeffrey admits this statement is not explicitly expressed in the report, he argues the sentiment has been fundamental to the Obama administration); and
4. Military action should be employed legally and legitimately through coalitions only when diplomatic, economic and other tools have been exhausted.

Jeffrey vehemently disagrees with these themes, countering that “no military solution” is empty rhetoric, as military action has proven time and again to be effective. The author notes that while military action should be taken in cohesion with political logic, some problems are indeed nails that must hammered down. The author points to Obama’s recent interview with Fareed Zakaria and speech at the West Point Academy to piece together what Jeffrey interprets as a “troubling worldview.” Jeffrey’s opinion echoes those of critics who argue that Obama has been too passive in reacting to hostile military aggression from around the world. Military inaction, or the urge for ‘strategic patience’ in the NSS 2.0 may be interpreted to have been elevated to a guiding principle for U.S. National Security Policy.

The opinions expressed in the article summary above are the opinions of the author alone and not that of Global Summitry or its staff, editors and or advisers.



Jeffrey, James. “Obama Puts down in Writing His Troubling Worldview.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 12 Feb. 2015. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.


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