Meagan Bridgeman NW3285 Spring 2020 May 7, 2020 National Security Strategy Themes for a New America The United States has undergone a transformation, and the National Security Strategy (NSS) needs to evolve to address this metamorphosis. Adaptability to these changing times is crucial to a renewed nation that will continue to grow and prosper. The three themes to be discussed are to protect America in the cyber era, build stronger alliances, and to invest in tomorrow. These three themes encompass a way for America to compete in this new age of great power competition and to grow even more robust than in decades past. No single change has been more transformative than the rapid interdependence on computers and other electronic devices. The advent of the Internet in 1983 changed the world irreversibly with the ability to share information over long distances quickly. While this new medium greatly facilitated the ability to globalize industries, it also created a new attack surface that has put American citizens, companies, and the American government at risk of harm from adversaries. With this risk in mind, the United States needs to focus on protecting American networks and information from being attacked or stolen. The United States has been subject to attacks on our networks with the intent to steal massive amounts of American citizen data such as the multiple Office of Personnel Management breaches in 2014 and 2015. This incident led to 21.5 million American citizens’ personal information being allegedly stolen by China's People's Liberation Army. While this data can never be recovered, this incident highlights the importance of hardening U.S. networks against attacks by adversaries. In this new cyber era, we are in a constant state of engagement both in our networks and in external international networks. There has been considerable effort placed in "defending Bridgeman 2 forward" and contesting adversary control in areas outside our networks. However, less emphasis is being placed on what can be done domestically to reduce the likelihood of falling victim to additional breaches. While the intention of defending forward is to deter the aggressor from attacking the United States, little has been shown to suggest that this policy has been effective. Some have suggested that the current method of degrading or destroying foreign adversaries' capabilities to attack the United States can have unintended consequences of the foreign adversary rebuilding and becoming more aggressive with fewer restrictions from their government as they believe they were provoked by the United States. This idea of unintended consequences is explained in the Journal of Cybersecurity by Herb Lin and Max Smeets of Stanford University. A more engaged forward defense might result not in "negative" feedback – reducing conflict by bringing it back to the historical norm – but instead "positive" feedback, exacerbating the conflict and adversaries may see the new US vision as a challenge to rise to, rather than one from which to back away. (Healey 7) The approach to focus inwards deters aggressors by increasing the cost of an attack by making our networks more difficult to penetrate, and this would accomplish the goal of deterrence without the risk of escalation. Another area of the United States’ networks to focus on defending is our critical infrastructure. Many of the systems that our infrastructure is reliant upon are notoriously insecure and outdated. The catastrophic consequences of losing control of one's industrial control systems can be seen when looking at attacks such as STUXNET, which was a piece of malware that altered the rotation of nuclear centrifuges in Iran and effectively destroyed their nuclear program indefinitely. Additionally, there must be greater protections on critical infrastructure to prevent Bridgeman 3 the possibility of foreign governments or non-state actors from controlling these systems to gain strategic advantage. The Journal of Cybersecurity notes this when comparing the possibility of Russia controlling the United States' response to the annexation of Crimea by "holding the U.S. electrical grid at risk" (Healey 6). There needs to be a nationwide effort to modernize existing systems with more advanced ones that have been designed with security in mind to protect the United States’ homeland in cyberspace. While not newly transformative, one theme that is consistent across multiple National Security Strategy documents is the desire to continue to build or maintain strong alliances with other partner nations. Building partnerships is a theme that is a constant that spans across multiple NSS, especially when concerning national interest, as described by Adam Quinn in his paper "Obama's National Security Strategy Predicting U.S. Policy in the Context of Changing Worldviews.” While the exact language differs between administrations, there is a push with the Trump administration to make partnerships more reciprocal (“The National Security Strategy” 2017, 19). This policy should be the norm going forward, specifically regarding the stabilization of areas around the world that are under the threat of terrorism. The United States has overextended into areas at great expense and has received disproportionate assistance from allied nations in areas such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. Regional stabilization should receive proportional assistance from neighboring NATO partners to lessen the burden placed upon the United States both fiscally and in American lives. However, these relationships are of vital importance to maintain and strengthen to prevent other nations from gaining global influence. In his essay “The Importance of Alliances for U.S. Security,” Martin Murphy, a political and strategic analyst, asserts: “If these alliances did not exist or were abandoned, states would almost inevitably be drawn closer to China, Russia, and Iran and possibly into alliances in active Bridgeman 4 opposition to the United States.” With China’s recent interest in its Belt and Road Initiative in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Djibouti, it is expanding its influence abroad. America should actively pursue to strengthen relationships with other countries that are under threat of aligning with countries that oppose American values and freedoms. Should a conflict arise, our allies and partners are crucial in the overall success. To ensure our allies are there when we need them, we need to continue to cultivate a cooperative relationship and actively seek out new partnerships with like-minded countries. The last piece needed to complete America's transformation is to invest in tomorrow properly. With the total dominance that China has obtained on the world's manufacturing and supply chain, the United States needs to adapt to utilize our biggest potential export of leading in innovation. However, leading in innovation does not come without proper education and retainment of talent within the United States. Currently, the U.S. is one of if not the leading center for technological advances and post-primary education. To appropriately capitalize on this resource, many improvements will need to be made as outlined above to protect American-made information and proprietary information. Arguably one of the main reasons China has done so well economically has been due to its domination in the supply chain and its aggressive economic espionage against American companies. In the 2017 NSS, there is the notice given to retaining talent by having the U.S. Government to work with industry and academia to hire individuals from a STEM background rapidly. This investment into the American people is more laborious for adversaries to disrupt than other areas of influence, such as militarily or financially. Another area to invest in tomorrow is that the U.S. could further global influence is recognizing and acting upon strategic opportunities abroad. Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton recognized this deficiency, and the current administration is reluctant to invest abroad, Bridgeman 5 which could be reducing privileged access to critical resources. Clinton stated, "The simple truth is if we don't seize the opportunities available today, other countries will" (Zarate 388), further comparing the U.S.'s reluctance to combine political and economic interests through foreign investments and poor trade deals. Particularly in regions of Africa, there is an underdeveloped market that could yield economic advantage and slow the spread of Chinese influence. Our trade agreement with Africa has been non-reciprocal and is underutilized from within many African countries. The new approach should be a more assertive free trade agreement further to develop a strong partnership with the United States. In the Brookings article "Competing in Africa: China, the European Union, and the United States," Schneidman and Wiegert express promise for the BUILD Act passed in 2018 that it would “make the U.S. more competitive with Chinese statebacked funds” (Schneidman and Wiegert Competing in Africa). Little has been published about the BUILD Act after it was passed, suggesting that it has not been fully implemented. Africa is the perfect example of a growing opportunity for increased investment that would be a strategic asset both economically and further increase American influence in the region. The process of transformation can call for significant changes to how things are typically done. However, in this instance, a shift in focusing on hardening American cyber defenses, building stronger alliances, and adequately investing in developments for the future are the keys to a successful adaptation to this new time of great power competition. They are ensuring lasting American influence and values to provide a freer, safer world and a stronger nation. Bridgeman 6 Works Cited “16 ‘The Coming Financial Wars.’” Treasury's War: the Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare, by Juan Carlos. Zarate, Public Affairs, 2015, pp. 383–419. Healey, Jason. “The Implications of Persistent (and Permanent) Engagement in Cyberspace.” Journal of Cybersecurity, vol. 5, no. 1, 2019, doi:10.1093/cybsec/tyz008. Murphy, Martin. "The Importance of Alliances for U.S. Security." The Heritage Foundation, October 7 2016, www.heritage.org/military-strength-topical-essays/2017-essays/theimportance-alliances-us-security. Quinn, Adam. "Obama's National Security Strategy Predicting U.S. Policy in the Context of Changing Worldviews." U.S. Project, Jan. 2015. Chatham House. Schneidman, Witney, and Joel Wiegert. "Competing in Africa: China, the European Union, and the United States." Brookings, Brookings, April 18. 2018, www.brookings.edu/blog/africain-focus/2018/04/16/competing-in-africa-china-the-european-union-and-the-united-states/. The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. Washington: President of the U.S., 2017. Print.