II. Advancing U.S. National Interests
The goal of the national security strategy is to ensure the protection of our nation’s fundamental and enduring needs: protect the lives and safety of Americans, maintain the sovereignty of the United States with its values, institutions and territory intact, and promote the prosperity and well-being of the nation and its people. In our vision of the world, the United States has close cooperative relations with the world’s most influential countries and has the ability to influence the policies and actions of those who can affect our national well-being.
We seek to create a stable, peaceful international security environment in which our nation, citizens and interests are not threatened. The United States will not allow a hostile power to dominate any region of critical importance to our interests. We will work to prevent the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and the materials for producing them, and to control other potentially destabilizing technologies, such as long-range missiles. We will continue to ensure that we have effective means for countering and responding to the threats we cannot deter or otherwise prevent from arising. This includes protecting our citizens from terrorism, international crime and drug trafficking.
We seek a world in which democratic values and respect for human rights and the rule of law are increasingly accepted. This will be achieved through broadening the community of free-market democracies, promoting an international community that is willing and able to prevent or respond effectively to humanitarian problems, and strengthening international non-governmental movements committed to human rights and democratization. These efforts help prevent humanitarian disasters, promote reconciliation in states experiencing civil conflict and address migration and refugee crises.
We seek continued American prosperity through increasingly open international trade and sustainable growth in the global economy. The health of the international economy directly affects our security, just as stability enhances the prospects for prosperity. Prosperity ensures that we are able to sustain our military forces, foreign initiatives and global influence. In turn, our engagement and influence helps ensure that the world remains stable so the international economic system can flourish.
We seek a cleaner global environment to protect the health and well-being of our citizens. A deteriorating environment not only threatens public health, it impedes economic growth and can generate tensions that threaten international stability. To the extent that other nations believe they must engage in non-sustainable exploitation of natural resources, our long-term prosperity and security are at risk.
Since there are always many demands for U.S. action, our national interests must be clear. These interests fall into three categories. The first includes vital interests—those of broad, overriding importance to the survival, safety and vitality of our nation. Among these are the physical security of our territory and that of our allies, the safety of our citizens, our economic well-being and the protection of our critical infrastructures. We will do what we must to defend these interests, including—when necessary—using our military might unilaterally and decisively.
The second category includes situations in which important national interests are at stake. These interests do not affect our national survival, but they do affect our national well-being and the character of the world in which we live. In such cases, we will use our resources to advance these interests insofar as the costs and risks are commensurate with the interests at stake. Our efforts to halt the flow of refugees from Haiti and restore democracy in that state, our participation in NATO operations in Bosnia and our efforts to protect the global environment are relevant examples. The third category is humanitarian and other interests. In some circumstances our nation may act because our values demand it. Examples include responding to natural and manmade disasters or violations of human rights, supporting democratization and civil control of the military, assisting humanitarian demining, and promoting sustainable development. Often in such cases, the force of our example bolsters support for our leadership in the world. Whenever possible, we seek to avert humanitarian disasters and conflict through diplomacy and cooperation with a wide range of partners, including other governments, international institutions and non-governmental organizations. This may not only save lives, but also prevent the drain on resources caused by intervention in crises.
Our strategy is based on three national objectives: enhancing our security, bolstering our economic prosperity and promoting democracy abroad.
Enhancing Security at Home and Abroad
Our strategy for enhancing U.S. security recognizes that we face diverse threats requiring integrated approaches to defend the nation, shape the international environment, respond to crises and prepare for an uncertain future.
Threats to U.S. Interests
The current international security environment presents a diverse set of threats to our enduring goals and hence to our security:
• Regional or State-Centered Threats: A number of states still have the capabilities and the desire to threaten our vital interests through coercion or aggression. They continue to threaten the sovereignty of their neighbors and international access to resources. In many cases, these states are also actively improving their offensive capabilities, including efforts to obtain or retain nuclear, biological or chemical weapons and, in some cases, long-range delivery systems. In Southwest Asia, both Iraq and Iran have the potential to threaten their neighbors and the free flow of oil from the region. In East Asia, North Korea maintains its forward positioning of offensive military capabilities on its border with South Korea.
• Transnational threats: Terrorism, international crime, drug trafficking, illicit arms trafficking, uncontrolled refugee migrations and environmental damage threaten U.S. interests, citizens and the U.S. homeland itself. The possibility of terrorists and other criminals using WMD—nuclear, biological and chemical weapons—is of special concern. Threats to the national information infrastructure, ranging from cyber-crime to a strategic information attack on the United States via the global information network, present a dangerous new threat to our national security. We must also guard against threats to our other critical national infrastructures—such as electrical power and transportation—which increasingly could take the form of a cyber-attack in addition to physical attack or sabotage, and could originate from terrorist or criminal groups as well as hostile states. International drug trafficking organizations have become the most powerful and dangerous organized crime groups the United States has ever confronted due to their sophisticated production, shipment, distribution and financial systems, and the violence and corruption they promote everywhere they operate.