National Security Strategy - Essential Tasks
The President's National Security Strategy focuses on nine essential tasks. Below is a brief summary of each task. Be sure to read the tasks in full in the document. View National Security Strategy pdf.
Champion aspirations for human dignity
The United States must defend liberty and justice because these principles are right and true for all people everywhere. These nonnegotiable demands of human dignity are protected most securely in democracies. The United States Government will work to advance human dignity in word and deed, speaking out for freedom and against violations of human rights and allocating appropriate resources to advance these ideals.
Strengthen alliances to defeat global terrorism and work to prevent attacks against us and our friends
Defeating terrorism requires a long-term strategy and a break from old patterns. We are fighting a new enemy with global reach. The United States can no longer simply rely on deterrence to keep the terrorists at bay or defensive measures to thwart them at the last moment. The fight must be taken to the enemy, to keep them on the run. To succeed in our own efforts, we need the support and concerted action of friends and allies. We must join with others to deny the terrorists what they need to survive: safe haven, financial support, and the support and protection that certain nation-states historically have given them.
Work with others to defuse regional conflicts
Regional conflicts are a bitter legacy from previous decades that continue to affect our national security interests today. Regional conflicts do not stay isolated for long and often spread or devolve into humanitarian tragedy or anarchy. Outside parties can exploit them to further other ends, much as al-Qaida exploited the civil war in Afghanistan. This means that even if the United States does not have a direct stake in a particular conflict, our interests are likely to be affected over time. The Administration’s strategy for addressing regional conflicts includes three levels of engagement: conflict prevention and resolution; conflict intervention; and post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction.
Prevent our enemies from threatening us, our allies, and our friends with weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
The security environment confronting the United States today is radically different from what we have faced before. Yet the first duty of the United States Government remains what it always has been: to protect the American people and American interests. It is an enduring American principle that this duty obligates the government to anticipate and counter threats, using all elements of national power, before the threats can do grave damage. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction—and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack. There are few greater threats than a terrorist attack with WMD.
Ignite a new era of global economic growth through the free markets and free trade
Promoting free and fair trade has long been a bedrock tenet of American foreign policy. Greater economic freedom is ultimately inseparable from political liberty. Economic freedom empowers individuals, and empowered individuals increasingly demand greater political freedom. Greater economic freedom also leads to greater economic opportunity and prosperity for everyone. History has judged the market economy as the single most effective economic system and the greatest antidote to poverty. To expand economic liberty and prosperity, the United States promotes free and fair trade, open markets, a stable financial system, the integration of the global economy, and secure, clean energy development.
Expand the circle of development by opening societies and building the infrastructure of democracy
Helping the world's poor is a strategic priority and a moral imperative. Economic development, responsible governance, and individual liberty are intimately connected. Past foreign assistance to corrupt and ineffective governments failed to help the populations in greatest need. Instead, it often impeded democratic reform and encouraged corruption. The United States must promote development programs that achieve measurable results—rewarding reforms, encouraging transparency, and improving people's lives. Led by the United States, the international community has endorsed this approach in the Monterrey Consensus.
Develop agendas for cooperative action with other main centers of global power
Relations with the most powerful countries in the world are central to our national security strategy. Our priority is pursuing American interests within cooperative relationships, particularly with our oldest and closest friends and allies. At the same time, we must seize the opportunity—unusual in historical terms—of an absence of fundamental conflict between the great powers. Another priority, therefore, is preventing the reemergence of the great power rivalries that divided the world in previous eras. New times demand new approaches, flexible enough to permit effective action even when there are reasonable differences of opinions among friends, yet strong enough to confront the challenges the world faces.
Transform America's national security institutions to meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century
The major institutions of American national security were designed in a different era to meet different challenges. They must be transformed. At home, we will sustain the ongoing transformation in the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Justice; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and the Intelligence Community; continue to reorient the Department of State towards transformational diplomacy; and improve the capacity of agencies to plan, prepare, coordinate, integrate, and execute responses. Abroad, we will work with our allies to promote meaningful reform of the U.N.; enhance the role of democracies and democracy promotion throughout international and multilateral institutions; and establish results-oriented partnerships to meet new challenges and opportunities.
Engage the opportunities and confront the challenges of globalization
Globalization presents many opportunities. Much of the world's prosperity and improved living standards in recent years is derived from the expansion of global trade, investment, information, and technology. The United States has been a leader in promoting these developments, and we believe they have significantly improved the quality of life of the American people and people the world over. Other nations have embraced these opportunities and have likewise benefited. Globalization has also helped the advance of democracy by extending the marketplace of ideas and the ideals of liberty.