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Susan Rice on 2015 National Security Strategy: U.S. proudly shouldering responsibilities of global leadership

“Across a range of issues with an array of partners, the United States is proudly shouldering the responsibilities of global leadership,” said U.S. National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice to a Brookings audience today. Her remarks launched the Obama administration’s 2015 National Security Strategy, which outlines the president’s foreign policy vision for the American people and Congress, and communicates those priorities to the world. Continuing, she said:

As President Obama made clear during his State of the Union address, the question is not whether America leads in the world, but how. And the answer is we are pursuing an ambitious yet achievable agenda, worthy of a great power. The president’s budget directly supports his strategy. Our national security leadership is united around this shared vision and agenda. And we are eager to work with Congress to restore the vital bipartisan center to U.S. foreign policy.

Below, watch the address, Brookings President Strobe Talbott’s introduction, and moderation of a Q&A session by Martin Indyk, vice president and director of Foreign Policy at Brookings. In her speech, Dr. Rice detailed a number of critical issues and key global regions within the framework of “four enduring national security interests that we laid out in the 2010 national security strategy: security, prosperity, values, and a rules based international order.”

The national security advisor also called on Congress “to work with us to support responsible investments in our national security, including by ending sequestration.”

She called Russia’s aggression in Ukraine “a heinous and deadly affront to longstanding international law and norms.” She added:

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In lockstep with our European allies we have built a coalition of partners around the world to impose steep political and economic costs on Russia, in contrast to the cost-free invasion of Georgia. And we will continue to turn up the pressure unless Russia decisively reverses course.

On the discussion of whether or not to provide Ukraine with more assistance, including defensive arms, she said that:

We are already providing military assistance to Ukraine. We have not taken the decision yet to up the nature of that assistance to include lethal defensive equipment. It’s something that’s under consideration, but obviously it is a significant step and we will want to do so in close consultation and in coordination with our partners whose unity on this issue with us thus far has been a core element of our strength in responding to Russia’s aggression.

As news evolved during the day of ISIL’s claim that a coalition airstrike had killed a 26-year-old American hostage, Dr. Rice addressed the U.S. policy on hostages and ransom broadly, stating that:

We have a broader policy with respect to hostages around the world: we don’t make concessions to terrorists and to hostage takers. We don’t pay ransom. We adhere to that policy rigorously because it is our strong view and our experience that when you make concessions and pay ransom you’re only generating greater incentive for additional acts of hostage-taking and you’re  providing resources to fuel those continued operations and horrific attacks.


… We are nonetheless in the process of doing a review of our hostage policy, not with respect to the no concessions aspect that I have outlined but with respect to how we can support and be more responsive to the needs of the families that are suffering  so enormously when a loved one is in that circumstance. Frankly this is an area in which the president believes we can do better.

Get more information about the event, hosted by the Project on International Order and Strategy, here.

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