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US Not Need Old Weapons

Hillary Clinton at the United Nations New York (photo by Erol Avdovic - Webpublicapress)

Hillary Clinton at the United Nations New York (photo by Erol Avdovic – Webpublicapress)

WebPublicaPress – New York – “The country needs to be thinking now about the threats it will face in a post-pandemic future, as well as the opportunities it must seize,” writes former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the forthcoming issue of Foreign Affairs. In order for the United States “to lead the post-COVID world, it must broaden its approach to national security and renew the foundations of its national power.”
“For decades, policymakers have thought too narrowly about national security and failed to internalize—or fund—a broader approach that encompasses threats not just from intercontinental ballistic missiles and insurgencies but also from cyberattacks, viruses, carbon emissions, online propaganda, and shifting supply chains,” Clinton explains. “There is no more poignant example than the current administration’s failure to grasp that a tourist carrying home a virus can be as dangerous as a terrorist planting a pathogen.”


The result, she warns, is that “the country is dangerously unprepared for a range of threats, not just future pandemics but also an escalating climate crisis and multidimensional challenges from China and Russia. Its industrial and technological strength has atrophied, its vital supply chains are vulnerable, its alliances are frayed, and its government is hollowed out.”


“Among the highest priorities must be to modernize the United States’ defense capabilities—in particular, moving away from costly legacy weapons systems built for a world that no longer exists,” explains the former Democratic presidential nominee. “Another is to renew the domestic foundations of its national power—supporting American innovation and bolstering strategically important industries and supply chains. These twin projects are mutually reinforcing. Modernizing the military would free up billions of dollars that could be invested at home in advanced manufacturing and R & D [research and development].”


UN's tied pistol at East River (Webpublicapress photo archive)

UN’s tied pistol at East River (Webpublicapress photo archive)

“Moving away from outdated weapons systems will cause economic disruption and real hardship,” she acknowledges. “That’s why it should be done in tandem with targeted investments in economically struggling communities, bringing advanced manufacturing and R & D to the places most affected by defense cuts.” Citing a study by economists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Clinton writes that $1 billion spent on clean energy, health care, or education creates, on average, far more jobs than the same amount of military spending.
She recommends that, “the United States should pursue a plan like the one proposed by former Vice President Joe Biden to invest $700 billion in innovation and manufacturing and impose stronger ‘Buy American’ provisions, with the goal of jump-starting domestic production in key sectors—from steel to robotics to biotechnology—reshoring sensitive supply chains, and expanding strategic stockpiles of essential goods.”


“Critics will no doubt warn that running up the national debt is itself a national security risk. But at a time of historically low real interest rates and historically high unemployment, the country should not shy away from bold investments,” Clinton notes. “Indeed, what the United States cannot afford is to defer these investments any longer.”


This article is part of the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs, which will be released in full on October 13.

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