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U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis listens to his introduction before speaking about the National Defense Strategy, Jan. 19, 2018, Washington (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

Is the New National Defense Strategy the Right Way to Deal With China’s Rise?

Friday, Feb. 2, 2018

No issue is more important for U.S. national security than America’s relationship with an increasingly powerful and assertive China. But it is also true that no issue is more complex. Two weeks ago, Secretary of Defense James Mattis released an unclassified summary of his new National Defense Strategy. Known among national security professionals as the NDS, the document outlined a major shift in U.S. security doctrine.

Before Sept. 11, America’s main security concern was what were called “rogue” states. After the terrorist attacks on the United States, transnational terrorism inspired by Islamist extremism moved to the fore. Then, during the Obama administration, American strategy lost its focus, vacillating among confronting threats from extremism, rogue states, great-power competitors and broad phenomena like climate change and the erosion of political authority. This was a problem: As the old saying goes, he who aims for nothing is guaranteed to hit it. ...

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