By: Matthew R.J. Brodsky, Senior Fellow
The Biden administration released its "Interim National Security Strategic Guidance" last week in a 24-page blueprint for reordering American society according to leftist dogmas that will also be applied as policy abroad.
A central theme of the text is "democracy," a word mentioned 24 times. According to the "Guidance," democracy is the solution at home and abroad, it is under assault, and it must be "revitalized." One must dig a little deeper and connect the loose threads to understand how the Biden administration imbues the word "democracy" with meaning that goes far beyond what most people would assume.
While lamenting the global rise of authoritarianism, the document argues that our democracy and national strategy were "reinforced by the 12 initial executive actions issued by President Biden in his first two days in office," which the administration argues "centers on restoring trust with the American people." In the administration's version of "democracy," then, presidential authority that bypasses Congress is considered more democratic.
The national strategy says "a vibrant democracy rejects politically motivated violence in all of its forms," which most Americans could agree on. It also states, however, that "millions of Americans have braved COVID-19 to demand racial justice." So not only has history been re-written to remove the most obvious features of reality — such as the violence, burning, and looting that raged across the country during 2020 — but all those who participated are considered brave for having done so while violating local lockdown orders and curfews.
The "Guidance" sees democracies across the world — including our own — as under siege but not from the aforementioned "brave" protestors, which is why U.S. cities from Washington, D.C., to Minneapolis to Seattle remain boarded up. Instead, it identifies the chief causes of this siege as "nationalist and nativist trends," which is to say that America's new version of democracy rejects the very concept of a nation-state that pursues national interests while prioritizing the welfare of its citizens.
Another theme repeated throughout is that the United States "will lead with diplomacy" while "renewing our commitment to global development and international cooperation." In practice, global development means that nation-building projects are back on the list of priorities. For example, it pledges "to provide Central America with $4 billion in assistance over four years," which is designed, among other expectations, "to address the root causes of ... irregular migration."
Even as we make Central America Great Again, the strategy seeks to keep the red carpet unfurled to its citizens: "We must renew our promise as a place of refuge, and our obligation to protect those who seek shelter on our shores."
While the document repeatedly references threats that don't respect national borders, the White House can't admit that illegal immigration is one of them, much less suggest that it is best addressed by strengthening our border, as that would be a nationalist solution. The answer they offer is to keep America's borders open while investing in failing countries to make them a better place to live, which would presumably cause fewer people to want to immigrate to the United States.
At least the Guidance admits, "We will not be able to solve all of the challenges we face at the southern border overnight," because this approach will exacerbate the problem. Likewise, the thematic focus on international cooperation in the context of "principled diplomacy" also reflects a new Democratic Party norm where we don't have a genuine foreign policy as much as a domestic wish list on how to remake our own country, which we then preach abroad.
If one is unconvinced, the report spells it out clearly:
Because traditional distinctions between foreign and domestic policy — and among national security, economic security, health security, and environmental security — are less meaningful than ever before, we will reform and rethink our agencies, departments, interagency processes, and White House organization to reflect this new reality.
To be clear, nothing has changed the distinction between foreign and domestic policy. What changed is how this administration chooses to see them. One must utterly redefine "national security" to justify the Biden administration's priorities. For example, one of the few enemies we will aggressively combat is "systemic racism":
Combatting systemic racism requires aggressive action to address structures, policies, and practices that contribute to the wealth gap, to health disparities, and to inequalities in educational access, outcomes, and beyond.
The Biden administration believes another clear threat facing the United States is climate change. In the 24-page document, the word "climate" appears 27 times (the word "military," by comparison, only appears 19 times).
You'd also be forgiven for thinking the document was issued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development or the Labor Department, since the word "diversity" appears seven times — the same count as the word "nuclear." Stunningly, the Biden administration pledges that it "will prioritize defense investments in climate resiliency and clean energy."
While some national security experts may believe too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil the broth, Biden's approach is to not only include all the cooks but the bartenders as well. The strategy pledges to "develop new processes and partnerships to ensure that state, municipal, tribal, civil society, non-profit, diaspora, faith-based, and private sector actors are better integrated into policy deliberations."
President Biden's Strategic Guidance promotes and redefines a leftist wish list as not only a vital American interest but as a vital global interest. In doing so, it completely erases the line between domestic and foreign policy, replacing it with new dividing lines that pit Americans against one another.
America's genuine adversaries will likely view this document with a mixture of relief, laughter, and incredulity. Americans who read it carefully will realize it's a national security document that will not make them one bit safer.