India a Key Partner, China Top Threat: US National Security Strategy Highlights

The President Joe Biden-led US government on Wednesday released its first NSS since it came to power.

3 min read
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The President Joe Biden-led United States US government on Wednesday, 12 October, released its first National Security Strategy (NSS) document since it took office.

In it, the administration has outlined its key objectives, partners it intends to deepen cooperation with, and "threats" it seeks to counter.

The US has said that competition with China is its biggest challenge, and highlights the need for "containing Russia" amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.

It also calls India a "key partner" and promotes the need for greater cooperation to ensure a "free and open Indo-Pacific".

Here are the highlights of the NSS:


India a Major Defence Partner

Referring to a "shared vision" between the two countries, the NSS says that since India is the world's largest democracy and a "major defence partner", the US and India will work together bilaterally and multilaterally to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific.

It also speaks on the need to cooperate with countries in South Asia, particularly against China's "coercive behaviour".

In this regard, it mentions the importance of the Quad (US, India, Australia, Japan) grouping as well as other multilateral mechanisms and groups that India is a part of along with the US.

China: The Greatest Challenge

The document calls China its "most consequential geopolitical challenge" and says that the US is constantly engaged in a "strategic competition" with the country to shape the future of the international order.

"The PRC (People’s Republic of China) is the only competitor with both the intent to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to do it."
NSS document

It further says that the US plans to boost domestic investments and work with allies in "common cause" to counter and compete with China.

The report also asserts that it will hold China accountable for "abuses" carried out by the country, such as the "genocide" in Xinjiang, "human rights violations" in Tibet, and the "dismantling" of Hong Kong's autonomy and freedom.

It reiterates support for Taiwan amid China's looming threat, and rejects any unilateral moves in the region.

The Russian 'Threat'

The document slams Russia for posing an "immediate and persistent threat" to international peace and stability through its invasion of Ukraine.

It also highlights Moscow's "constant interference" in global affairs, such as its military intervention in support of the Syrian government, the annexation of Crimea in 2014, and meddling in the internal affairs of other countries, including the US.

The document reasserts its support for Ukraine, including militarily, and speaks of the need to strengthen the tactical abilities of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) countries neighbouring Russia.

The Biden administration emphasises further that it will not permit Russia to use nuclear weapons to achieve its ends.

"The United States will not allow Russia, or any power, to achieve its objectives through using, or threatening to use, nuclear weapons."
NSS document

Iran's 'Autocracy' 

The report labels Iran as the top threat among "smaller and autocratic powers" trying to compromise global stability.

It says that Iran "interferes" in the internal affairs of neighbours, plots to harm Americans, "including former officials" and is advancing a nuclear programme "beyond any credible civilian need".

This comes in the backdrop of ongoing efforts to revive a 2015 multilateral agreement, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which saw Tehran withdraw its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from economic sanctions by the west.

The agreement was withdrawn unilaterally by the Donald Trump-led US administration in 2018, and has since not been revived.

In case diplomacy fails, the report cautions, the US is prepared to use "other means" to counter Iran.

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