Obama Security Strategy Defined by a "Prosperous Economy"

AP

The National Security Strategy is a document only a wonk could love. =http:>

It is a thoughtful document, but the thoughts are ones you've heard expressed many times before. This far into an administration there really shouldn't be any surprises - and there aren't. So it comes down to nuance.

This is a less muscular National Security Strategy than the one forged by the Bush administration in the wake of 9/11. There's no explicit criticism of the Bush administration in the new document but statements like "when we overuse our military might . . . our leadership around the world is too narrowly identified with military force" certainly get the message across.

If you had to pick one sentence in this 52 page document which defines President Obama's National Security Strategy it would be this: "The foundation of American leadership must be a prosperous economy."

No nation can afford to spend $700 billion a year on its military without a strong economy. So there is as much in this strategy about reducing the deficit as there is about building up the military, as much about economic recovery at home as about defeating al Qaeda overseas.

In theory, this document should inform every decision the administration makes, although it's often hard to connect the lofty rhetoric of strategy with the down-and-dirty of political compromise. But if you look at Defense Secretary Gates' recent speeches about the need to rein in the military-industrial complex and cut the fat out of the Pentagon budget, you can see the connection.

When the president's strategy says we must "spend taxpayers' dollars wisely," that translates in Gates' world to a threat to veto a defense spending bill that contains a jet engine he doesn't want to buy.

There's an old military saw that says "amateurs talk strategy, experts talk logistics." In other words, if you can't deliver the goods, your strategy is worthless. The same could be said of this document. If it can't be implemented then it's nothing more than words on paper.

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David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent. You can read more of his posts in World Watch here.

  • David Martin

    David Martin is CBS News' National Security Correspondent.

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