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Don’t call Trump strategy a ‘return to sanity,’ aide says


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Even as he unveiled a strategy document warning about Moscow's intentions, the president still hailed cooperation with Vladimir Putin.

By ELIANA JOHNSON   12/18/2017 07:40 PM EST

President Donald Trump’s official new national security strategy warns in blunt language that Russia is a dangerous global competitor that seeks to undermine the U.S. at home and abroad.

But midway through his Monday speech unveiling the 55-page document, Trump seemed to contradict that message, saying the U.S. would work to “build a great partnership” with Russia and China — language not found in the new strategy and inconsistent with the rest of his remarks.

 senior administration official said Sunday's phone call and the cooperation that preceded it was a rare instance in which the U.S. could collaborate with Russia. But Trump’s decision to mention it—elsewhere in the speech, Trump branded Russia a "rival power" that threatens America's "influence, values, and wealth"—illustrates the potential complications the administration may face in adhering to the new strategy when U.S. policy is largely guided by the president's instincts and impulses.

“The question is whether the president takes full ownership and views it not as a bureaucratic product but as his own policy statement,” said Elliott Abrams, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who served as a deputy national security adviser in the George W. Bush administration.

The document marks the first formal attempt to nail down the principles that will guide his administration’s foreign policy, and to flesh out what, exactly, an "America first" approach to international affairs might looks like. To hear Trump tell it Monday, that means the rejection of the “disastrous trade deals,” nation-building, and “expensive and unfair” international agreements that his voters asked for.

While the national security strategies of previous administrations have typically attracted little attention, bound for dusty government archives, Trump’s has drawn unusual interest, thanks to his anti-establishment views and the infighting on his foreign policy team.

Read the rest at: https://www.politico.com/story/2017/12/18/trump-russia-strategy-speech-304119

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