Scapegoating Won't Solve Industrial Base Woes.

Author:Magnuson, Stew
Position:Editor's Notes
 
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* The Trump administration released its long-awaited report on the health of the defense industrial base with little fanfare.

Apparently, "Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States," was complete for quite some time and its results known to Defense Department officials. All that was left was to find a good time to release it to the public. One date was canceled due to Hurricane Florence.

Other proposed dates came and went until reporters covering the military were suddenly called in for a roundtable press briefing Oct. 4. That was right in the middle of the contentious hearings to confirm Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. About a dozen reporters attended the roundtable. An event to rollout the report was on the White House schedule the next day, but the notice said "closed press." There was nothing live-streamed. And the networks weren't about to break away from the Kavanaugh coverage even if they did have access.

And that's too bad because this is a story that needed to reach beyond the national security focused media and to the mainstream press. It's important that the U.S. public understand the issues raised by this report.

Much of what was written in the press focused on the China factor. China's so-called "aggressive" and "unfair" industrial policies are detrimental to the overall U.S. economy and the DIB, the report asserted.

"China represents a significant and growing risk to the supply of materials and technologies deemed strategic and critical to U.S. national security," the report said.

But reading its unclassified version, it is clear that the U.S. government has no one to blame but itself for the predicaments it finds itself in concerning the defense industrial base.

The report mentions five major problems: sequestration and uncertainty of U.S. government spending; decline of U.S. manufacturing capability and capacity; U.S. government business practices; diminishing U.S. science, engineering, technology and math education and trade skills; and industrial policies of competitor nations.

Four out of five have everything to do with U.S. government policies, its educational institutions and its capitalistic system--which embraces the notion that "competition is good."

Breaking down the "competitor nations" section, the report goes into widely known facts and figures about China's industrial might and the trade imbalance.

The report mentions China's...

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