The greatness of a democratic political system is that there is legitimacy with change. When an authoritarian government changes leaders, there is always uncertainty of what it means and what will happen. This year, in the United States, Donald Trump won a legitimate election and is now president-elect.
This was an election that showed how unhappy Americans are with how Washington has performed over the past two administrations. Both political parties adopted postures of obstruction and inaction. The Bush administration decried Democratic congressional obstructionism, and the Obama administration rails at Republican intransigence. The American people became increasingly angry with both parties. President-elect Trump captured those popular sentiments, and in many ways his election represents a hostile take-over of the Republican Party. President-elect Trump’s campaign was more about projecting sentiment than championing specific policy formulas. Building a wall on the southern border and making Mexico pay for it was a sentiment, not a plan. His supporters knew that, while traditional internationalists hung on the specific words as though they constituted real policy direction. Voters wanted to sweep away the stale politics of Washington, but the country still needs the structure and discipline of solid government operations.
Now the sentiment of the Trump campaign has to be translated into concrete policies by the incoming Trump administration. That takes a knowledge of government and how it functions. It takes a knowledge of the historic context for pending issues, and an understanding of the forces that must be accommodated in new policy formulations. The global nature of business and communications today means that America has to be knowledgeable about the outside world and understand that the actions occurring in other countries have a direct impact on our lives and wellbeing. The new administration will need substantive ideas and quality analysis more than ever.
So what are the principal national security challenges facing the Trump administration when it takes over in January 2017? Below I outline four. These are not the types of problems that will show up in the President’s Daily Brief his first day in office, such as defeating ISIS, addressing insecurity in Syria, or dealing with a nuclear-armed North Korea. Instead, these are issues that will create the underlying dynamics that will yield either crisis or opportunity in the years ahead, shaping not only the success of a Trump administration, but also the vitality of America through numerous administrations to come.
First, our domestic situation. Our politics has deteriorated, the government is bloated, our economy is stagnant, and our country is divided. These will all have significant impact on our nation’s security.
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