President Biden’s February 24 executive order directing an assessment of supply chain vulnerabilities is similar to previous such directives issued by President Trump. When presidents hailing from different parties issue similar orders on a policy matter, it signals the emergence of a bipartisan consensus. In this case, the consensus is that America is becoming too dependent on offshore sources for critical production inputs, particularly China. The U.S. has been gradually de-industrializing at the same time China was becoming the world’s biggest manufacturer, and now the divergence has reached a tipping point. If Washington cannot reverse the erosion of U.S. productive capacity is areas like microelectronics, pharmaceuticals and rare earths, the day is fast approaching when it will be unable to equip its military without turning to Chinese suppliers. That won’t work in wartime if China is the enemy. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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