* The United States' commitment to influencing global policy through soft power has atrophied recently, exemplified by a reluctance on the part of the U.S. government to leverage foreign military sales and direct commercial sales programs to further America's interests in regions targeted by its competitors.
And while defense exports provide a fraction of overall U.S. exports, this reluctance disadvantages America in its competition with China, a country aggressively using critical industries to supply vulnerable, strategic allies and partners with dual-use exports and infrastructure funding to bind these nations to Beijing and its interests.
As the nation re-evaluates its global presence, China fills strategic voids, demonstrating to U.S. allies and partners its technological and industrial capabilities by investing in their economies.
To counter this challenge to America's global standing, the U.S. government must recognize this threat and use every tool in its kit to bolster national security through economic instruments, implementing an innovative Marshall Plan for the 21st Century to counter Beijing's soft power campaign.
One tool the government should use is the Export-Import Bank of the United States. The Senate recently confirmed three new board members, allowing the EXIM Bank to operate at a full quorum. However, this does not meet the emerging strategic requirements posed by China's assertive investment strategies. The government must reimagine the bank as a strategic economic tool to enhance long-term U.S. interests abroad. It must redefine its mission to make clear its role in U.S. foreign policy and national defense, complimenting the Overseas Private Investment Corp.'s mission, but with the advantage of attracting the defense industrial base.
At present, the bank does not promote the long-term economic and security interests of the United States. Why? Its mission does not extend beyond mitigating moderate risk of U.S. companies exporting goods overseas. Simply put, its mandate narrowly defines what its authorities allow. In contrast, current U.S. national security guidance advocates countering China's global expansion through broad support of private industry to develop and field high-end critical technologies.
Beijing's Export-Import Bank's mission similarly supports global trade; however, it offers much larger guarantees and investments and it focuses on projects and industries that align with China's long-term national...