The State of the Union Address: NSI Experts Weigh In

President Trump delivered his first State of the Union address earlier tonight. He outlined his Administration’s accomplishments to date and spoke on five major policy areas: the economy, infrastructure, immigration, trade, and national security. Below are analyses of the President’s State of the Union remarks on national security from NSI experts:

January 30, 2018

Bryson Bort – NSI Visiting Fellow; Founder & CEO, SCYTHE

“Trump’s State of the Union veered between a victory lap and an appeal to unity hampered by the red meat thrown to his base.  Like negotiating in business, the best approach is a show of strength whether it’s there or not.  This speech was clearly setting up the 2018 mid-terms: ‘together we can achieve absolutely anything,’ but this message may have been lost in the strong emphasis on traditional Republican interests: constitutionalism, second amendment, defense, and smaller government.  A significant amount of the speech was devoted to the tax cut legislation, the only significant legislative achievement of 2017, but was short on a detailed vision for the future.  Only immigration was mentioned in any detail for action.”

Matthew R. A. Heiman – NSI Visiting Fellow; Former Lawyer, National Security Division, U.S. Department of Justice and the Coalition Provisional Authority, Baghdad, Iraq

“In his State of the Union address, President Trump in stark and strong language called for strengthening our military and nuclear arsenal in order to defend against our adversaries, with a particular focus on the barbaric regime ruling North Korea.  President Trump’s blunt assessment of America’s place in the world and its national security needs is a welcome and necessary change from the retrenchment and passivity of the Obama administration.”


Jamil Jaffer – Founder, National Security Institute; Former Chief Counsel, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee

“Today’s State of the Union had a strong finish, with the President publicly making the case for a newly assertive America, unafraid of her enemies and unashamed of her allies.  The President correctly called for an end to the defense sequester which has hampered our military effectiveness for far too long and instructed the Secretary of Defense to ensure that we have a viable capture option for terrorists that can’t be prosecuted.  Perhaps most importantly, the President called out North Korea, Iran, China and Russia for the very real threat they each pose to our national security.  On the critically important issue of our nation’s security, this speech was a strong, confident, and unmistakable message to our friends and enemies alike.”

Andrew Keiser – NSI Visiting Fellow; Former Senior Advisor, U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

“President Trump tonight shined a bright spotlight on America’s growing economic strength.  History tells us that military strength abroad can only be derived from economic strength at home.  America’s adversaries and allies alike are taking notice and the President’s State of the Union sought to ensure they didn’t miss the memo.”



Lester Munson – NSI Visiting Fellow; Former Staff Director, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

“The president’s speech highlighted many compelling issues and was even inspirational at points.  His constricted view of foreign assistance, however, is of concern and risks, in some measure, American leadership around the globe.”




Bryan Smith – NSI Visiting Fellow; Vice President & Technical Advisor, Beacon Global Strategies

“Building ‘peace through strength’ requires the Congress to do what only it can under our Constitution — pass appropriations. Yet it has failed to so for four months of this fiscal year.  Granted, tax reform, immigration political polarization — all make passage of an annual spending bill dauntingly complex.  But so is life. There is no excuse for fiscal abdication.  A full year Continuing Resolution would prevent the President from executing his national security strategy, but more to the point, would betray our men and women in arms.”