12 Sustaining America’s Strategic Advantage as NSC-68 outlined a grand strategy to contend with the Cold War, this chapter seeks to establish the foundations of a new grand strategy for the United States in a time of increasing competition, especially from Russia and China, as well as the need for cooperation with those same two states to address some of the challenges outlined previously.71 WHITHER WE ARE TRENDING: THE BATTLE OF IDENTITY AND IDEALS A productive grand strategy begins with a set of “first principles” to guide the difficult decisions and trade-offs required to implement that strategy.72 These principles, or focal points, can best be found in the self- identification of the United States and its competitors. The United States has always seen itself as an experiment in democracy with the unalienable human rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. Those core interests have informed U.S. for- eign policy ever since. The preamble to the U.S. Constitution begins with the words, “We the people,” outlining the purpose of the United States to, among other things, establish justice and promote the general welfare on behalf of and with the consent of the governed. This ideal was evident in President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, some sixty years after the Constitution, which ended by describing a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.”73 Almost one hundred years later, NSC- 68 articulated the national purpose of the United States as “to assure the integrity and vitality of our free society, which is founded upon the dig- nity and worth of the individual.”74 That document went on to say that the intention of the United States was to “foster a world environment in which the American system can survive and flourish.”75 President ­ Ronald Reagan later echoed Lincoln’s words and NSC-68’s national purpose to portray the United States as an example to the whole world when he described the United States as a “shining city on a hill” in his January 25, 1988, State of the Union Address. The United States still sees itself as the leader of the free world. Presi- dent Trump, in his “America First” National Security Strategy, claimed U.S. international leadership: “America is leading again on the world stage.”76 He went on to say that “the NATO alliance of free and sover- eign states is one of our great advantages over our competitors, and the United States remains committed to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty,”77 even though he had on other occasions disparaged the alliance and linked U.S. commitment to defend them to whether those nations had “fulfilled their obligations to us.”78 In his Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, President Biden “committed to engage with the world once again, not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s.”79 Surveys by the Pew Research service demonstrate that support for international
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