“We are not going to impose our values on others,” reads the NSS draft. “Our alliances, partnerships, and coalitions are built on free will and shared interests. When the United States partners with other states, we develop policies that enable us to achieve our goals while our partners achieve theirs.”

This is a stark contrast to the vision laid out in the previous Republican administration’s NSS, released by George W. Bush 15 years ago. An excerpt from President Bush’s June 2002 speech at West Point is used as an epigraph to that strategy paper’s introduction: “Our Nation’s cause has always been larger than our Nation’s defense. We fight, as we always fight, for a just peace—a peace that favors liberty. We will defend the peace against the threats from terrorists and tyrants. We will preserve the peace by building good relations among the great powers. And we will extend the peace by encouraging free and open societies on every continent.”…

For Trump, the question isn’t about balancing power but consolidating it—before the rising major challengers China and Russia do so. “A central continuity in history is the contest for power. The present time period is no different,” reads the strategy paper. “Three main sets of challengers—the revisionist powers of China and Russia; the rogue states of Iran and North Korea; and transnational threat organizations, particularly jihadist terrorist groups—are actively competing against the United States and its allies and partners. Although differing in nature and magnitude, these rivals compete across political, economic, and military arenas, and use technology and information to accelerate these contests, in order to shift regional balances of power in their favor.”