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Obama's National Security Strategy: Is 'I'm not Bush' ending?

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The new National Security Strategy will underscore that the American military is unrivaled in the world in its reach and resources, and it will call for the United States to maintain its military superiority, according to the Associated Press, which obtained a summary of the strategy.

It won’t surprise anyone that any White House would vaunt the essential role of US military might.

Still, the Obama White House may be at risk of playing down the role of “hard power” in the world too much, some foreign-policy analysts say, especially as the administration seeks to differentiate itself from its predecessor.

“Every presidency starts off defining itself by trumpeting the opposite of whatever its predecessor did, and that’s been true in spades going from George W. Bush to Obama,” says Robert Lieber, a professor of government and international affairs at Georgetown University in Washington. “But at a certain point that gets old, and we’re at a point where the overplayed ‘we’re not Bush’ mantra is raising anxieties among friends and allies in Asia and the Middle East.”

Much of the world, Professor Lieber says, will be watching the new security strategy to see if Obama largely plays down the role of hard power. Such a move would exacerbate growing jitters about a less assertive America, he says.

“If this [administration’s] allergy to almost any of the rhetoric that resonates with whatever the Bush administration did or said is perpetuated” in the document, he says, “we’re very likely to see the repercussions in a series of foreign-policy problems.”

Others say they expect Obama’s strategy to address emerging challenges to national security, including climate change and energy innovation.

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