The Washington Post

Obama to issue a new statement of U.S. national security strategy

President Obama will formally present a new national security strategy early next year, identifying his foreign policy priorities for the remainder of his time in office, the White House said Friday.

The new policy document will be the second of Obama's administration and will likely update the previous one, released in May 2010, in several important areas. Those include policies for fighting the next phase of the war against al-Qaeda, the shift of national security resources to Asia and a plan to manage declining defense budgets amid fiscal strain.

The administration will present another strategy paper on how it intends to achieve the policy ambitions to be outlined in the new national security doctrine sometime in the spring, Obama told Congress in a letter made public Friday.

The new strategy is being drafted at a time when Obama continues to face questions over his counterterrorism policy, particularly the use of drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan as the U.S. military withdraws from that region.

Disclosures over the scope of the National Security Agency’s eavesdropping practices have also placed Obama at odds with some foreign leaders, including U.S. allies, and prompted him to pledge reforms in the way intelligence gathering is conducted.

The new security strategy will likely reflect some of those proposals and expand on administration plans in the Asia-Pacific region as the country shifts from a war footing in the decade since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to new diplomatic and economic initiatives.

The National Security Strategy document falls under a 1986 law requiring the president to present Congress with an annual strategic statement. Most administrations have been inconsistent in meeting that obligation. George W. Bush, for example, issued only two during his eight years in office.

The policy statement sets administration priorities inside the government and communicates them to Congress, the American public and the world. It also is intended as a framework for strategy documents produced by other parts of the government, including the Pentagon’s national defense strategy.

Obama’s first National Security Strategy ran 52 pages and set out a course for ending the U.S. military involvement in Iraq.

Although the strategy asserted America’s central role in the world, it also warned that “when we overuse our military might, or fail to invest in or deploy complementary tools, or act without partners, then our military is overstretched.”

“Americans bear a greater burden, and our leadership around the world is too narrowly identified with military forces,” the document reads. It lists as the country's “enduring national interests” security, prosperity, values and international order.

In recent months, Obama has outlined some of his foreign policy priorities for the rest of his second term, telling the U.N. General Assembly in September that in the Middle East he would focus on securing a nuclear agreement with Iran and peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

That emphasis will likely be reflected in the updated strategy document, which will also likely look beyond the official conclusion of U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan at the end of 2014.

Karen DeYoung contributed to this report.

Scott Wilson is the chief White House correspondent for the Washington Post. Previously, he was the paper’s deputy Assistant Managing Editor/Foreign News after serving as a correspondent in Latin America and in the Middle East.

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