Summary of the Presentation on….

National Security Challenges Facing the Trump Administration

with

Keith Hansen

January 27, 2017

Former National Intelligence Officer for Strategic Programs and Non-Proliferation, Keith Hansen, provided a comprehensive overview of the national security challenges facing the new Trump administration.  For this presentation, Hansen assumed the role of a senior British MI-6 intelligence official providing his perspective on the “threats and uncertainties” that President Trump and his national security team must address early on.  His key source was the 2016 Annual Worldwide Testimony given by the Director of National Intelligence to Congress at the beginning of each budget year.

Hansen warned that while the new administration will attempt to address these concerns and its priorities in an orderly fashion, in fact most Presidents have been confronted with serious, unanticipated challenges early on.  For example, George H. Bush was struck with the 9/11 attacks and the resulting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq early in his Presidency; President Obama was met with the Arab Spring and rising challenges from radical Islamic Jihadist groups, including ISIS.  In addition, as Hansen pointed out, the new administration will be trying to satisfy a number of campaign promises it made regarding domestic policy that will have very high priority, including curbing illegal immigration, dismantling and replacing Obamacare, and energy issues (including Keystone Pipeline and Yucca).  He noted that there is often a crossover between foreign and domestic policies.

With respect to Trump’s foreign priorities, Hansen placed defeating ISIS high on the agenda, followed by nuclear proliferation and dealing with provocations from China, a possible “détente” with Russia, and anticipated belligerence by North Korea.  In addition, the President will likely terminate the nuclear agreement with Iran and attempt to quell anxiety amongst our NATO allies.  With respect to each of these areas, Hansen enumerated specific concerns and challenges these various issues will pose (which he laid out coherently and comprehensively in the attached PowerPoint).

Finally, Hansen discussed the emerging national security team, which is very heavy with retired generals and Congressmen.  Given that tensions always will exist between the White House staff and Cabinet departments, Hansen predicted that some serious policy differences will emerge quickly between senior Cabinet officials, such as Rex Tillerson at State and Jim Mattis at Defense, and the fiery National Security Advisor, General Michael Flynn.

Below, please find the link to Keith Hansen’s PowerPoint presentation covering in much greater detail the contingencies and concerns that were summarized here.  Given the interest shown by our record audience (over 230!) we all believe it will be valuable to have Keith Hansen return in 6 months to address the National Security Forum on how well the new Trump administration is dealing with these multiple national security challenges!

The link for Keith Hansen’s PowerPoint is below:

Keith Hansen PowerPoint

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