It is imperative that the U.S. solidifies its diplomacy and its reputation as the global superpower. With the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine, China’s growing economic dominance and augmented authoritarianism, and the growing threats of climate change, it is more clear than ever that we need to fortify international cooperation to further the growth of the U.S. and ensure a future for all.
All of my following proposals are rooted in a strong focus on diplomacy, especially with the maintenance or advancement of the interests of U.S. allies. The democratic U.S. alliance network is one of formidable power, as its countries both comprise more than half of the top 10 largest companies and over 60% of the world’s military spending. Because of China’s aggression in the surrounding Indo-Pacific region, it is key that the U.S. ensures the development of networks between its European allies and Indo-Pacific allies, ones that do not rely solely on the U.S. A stronger collective deterrence of China can be formed through the cooperative efforts between the U.S. and its European and Asian allies. In order for such cooperation and deterrence to exist, U.S. allies must be able to expand their defenses, but also for the U.S. to trust that development without viewing it as a threat.
This is also key in the protection of democracies, especially as Beijing grows more authoritarian. Taiwan is a major point of tension, and I believe that they require our full support, both because they are a stalwart of democracy and their supply of semiconductors. However, it is not sufficient nor ideal to increase military presence in Taiwan, as it may trigger more aggression from China. China’s proximity to Taiwan is a sheer advantage over the U.S. in any military standoff, and it is not the primary strategy to employ. Instead, as mentioned previously, the U.S. must encourage a defensive posture from Japan, India, and Australia so as to increase deterrence. China also poses great cybersecurity threats to Taiwan, so the U.S. must also bolster its artificial and cyber intelligence capabilities (as outlined below). However, the U.S. must not act overly aggressive, as many American businesses have stakes in China, and our economies are heavily intertwined. Therefore, cooperation should be the priority through improved communication between senior officials.
In the vein of communication, I believe it is also important to reinforce our support of human rights. With China’s egregious violations of human rights for the Uyghurs, we must reshape the way to incentivize improved human rights conditions in China. I support a strong urgency to demand policy reform from China that meets the international standard. To do so, the U.S. should bolster the United Nations Human Rights Council to further investigate the Chinese government, especially as it pertains to the crimes against Uyghurs. Part of this will require the U.S. to support the activists and journalists from within China in their efforts to advocate for change.
More importantly, the U.S. must retain its global power and dominance in trade and economic competition. It must invest in its own technologies and innovations, such as emerging sustainable technologies, so as to bolster any regional, democracy preservation initiatives. The rhetoric surrounding these defenses of supremacy should be made with zero anti-Asian and anti-Chinese sentiment. We have seen the horrifying consequences of such remarks made by former President Trump. As such, I will prioritize U.S. economic growth, but strive to prevent any discriminatory fallout.
The U.S. must also defend its economic supremacy through increased economic activity. To do so, it is important to recall the import tariffs to reinstate the competitiveness of U.S. producers and firms. As the U.S. continues to encourage China’s open market, the number of exports may quickly rise, and it must ensure that the bilateral trade balance is downplayed. This way, the U.S. allies in Europe, as well as Japan and South Korea, can be included in such discussions. Slowing down China’s growth is an irrational and impracticable effort, the U.S. should therefore be directing its focus on its own expansion, especially through longer-term measures, such as reforming the immigration and the education systems, as well as infrastructure improvements and tax reforms to limit emigration.
Additionally, I support digital free-trade agreements that would support data transfers, an especially important ability for Silicon Valley, in all its technological innovation. The use of digital tools is growing in importance and efficacy, especially highlighted by the pandemic. Such a trade agreement would encourage further trade with Asian countries, most notably in the Indo-Pacific. An example of such an agreement is the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) between Singapore, New Zealand, and Chile. Its main focus is to promote interoperability, focusing on cooperation among FinTech companies, cross-border data flow, expand the use of open government data, and promote ethical and effective artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. Engaging in such an agreement, especially with the countries of the Asian-Pacific region, would allow the U.S. to bolster economic engagement, support technological advancement in other countries for a more integrated international data system, and enhance U.S. business interests. In particular, this would aid small businesses, in addition to larger companies, through streamlined payments and foreign economic reach for customers.
Foreign policy starts at home, and due to Beijing’s rapid increase in its infrastructure expenditure in recent years, spending a total of $8 trillion U.S. in 2020 alone, we must fortify our own nation. On the other hand, the U.S. spent a mere $169 billion on infrastructure, which is minimal in comparison to China. Economists have stated how weak infrastructure can negatively impact economic growth. Beyond the disasters that can arise from failures of bridges, dams, and other catastrophes, poorly maintained infrastructure systems incur large costs to the U.S. government through inefficiencies, bottlenecks, etc. Furthermore, an increase in investment in U.S. infrastructure stimulates the economy in the long term, boosting efficiency, lowering transportation costs, and creating jobs. Such investments have been proven to consequentially spread beyond the industry. A University of Maryland study found that for every $1 spent on infrastructure, the economic output could be as high as $3. Another way to imagine this benefit is as follows: for every increase in infrastructure spending that is 1% of the GDP, the output created would be $320 billion.
Russia’s increased aggression, as seen through its annexation of Crimea, increased military presence in Ukraine, among other threatening behaviors, should be warning the U.S. Putin’s threats to deploy nuclear weapons may actually just be a means to push away U.S. and European influence in its surrounding areas and draw many parallels to the Cold War nuclear war scare. Therefore, I believe that the U.S., along with European NATO allies, should re-emphasize arms control and continue expanding deterrent strategies. Russia has also recently targeted what has been named as “gray-zone tactics,” which are not military aggression, but rather, are attacks on a country’s social and economic environments (such as cyberattacks, some of which the U.S. itself may have experienced). These offensive tactics must also be considered and heavily regulated, so as to prevent the further social divide of many liberal democracies.
With the recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the need for international cooperation has been increasingly heightened. A multilateral fight against climate change is imperative for equitable global development. Often, the developing countries are disproportionately affected by rising temperatures, sea levels, and growing unpredictability in natural disasters. I believe reinforcing our position in intergovernmental organizations is of high importance for the policy continuity that is needed to ameliorate the effects of climate change. With President Trump’s obstruction of reform and development through his lack of cooperation with such organizations, I believe that we must fortify our commitment to climate change. Additionally, we must further cooperate with partners and developing countries to supply clean energy, advancing the solutions necessary. This alone is not enough if we cannot take action domestically.
These ideas must be supported by a modernization of the Department of Defense (DoD), while ensuring accountability and transparency in its budget. Additions such as the U.S. Space Force and the U.S. Cyber Command have been important developments in the renewed great power competition. It would also be beneficial to expand defense against information warfare through information operations in the age of the numerous cyber attacks the U.S. has experienced. It is necessary and beneficial to create an overseeing department that can combine all the resources in a separate entity, beyond the designations set by the Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps, that can cohesively coordinate the necessary information and support. As aforementioned, the nuclear tensions are escalating rapidly, and thus, an expansion of the DoD’s nuclear deterrent strategies should be considered.