Early in June, the Senate passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA). While the name of the bill makes the legislation appear focused on the well-being of American workers, the true target of the bill is some 7,000 miles away.
The summary of the USICA makes direct reference to China more than 40 times in its 15 pages; it only mentions American workers three times. It seems that this is legislation aimed against China, as opposed to supporting American workers.
Believe it or not, Connecticut plays a major role in determining national policy on relations with China. Our own Sen. Chris Murphy is the chair of the Senate subcommittee focused on Asia and the Near East, and helped to amend the bill. In explaining his changes, Murphy said in a statement: “If the U.S. just thinks of competition with China through a military lens, we are going to get left behind.”
The United States is certainly competing with China in a military sense. Last December, the Department of the Navy released a document titled, “Advantage at Sea; Prevailing With Integrated All-Domain Naval Power,” outlining its strategy for projecting power into the Western Pacific. The document wastes no words in describing China as the United States’ greatest threat. “We prioritize competition with China due to its growing economic and military strength, increasing aggressiveness, and demonstrated intent to dominate its regional waters and remake the international order in its favor,” the Navy states in the document’s introduction.
Connecticut also has deep ties to the military. Three of the largest employers in the state manufacture military equipment: Electric Boat, Pratt and Whitney, and Sikorsky. The Naval Submarine Base is also located in Groton, which is described in the Navy’s own words as “the home of the submarine force.” In fact, late last year the Navy announced a new $9.5 billion contract to develop and build the “next generation” submarine in Connecticut.
Our state clearly has a vested interest in the geopolitical situation between the United States and China. We should have more than an interest though; we should have a voice, and that voice should support peaceful cooperation and coexistence, rather than confrontation.
Whether it’s within the context of economics, technology, or the military, it seems that we are entering into a new Cold War with China. I wrote about this topic last year because I found it concerning enough. Since then, the anti-China rhetoric has accelerated dramatically, and there has been a marked increase in racist violence against Asians here in the United States. Yet our leaders seem content to stumble down the path of belligerence by masking it with the word “competition.”
We cannot forget the recent history of the previous Cold War, even though the name of the conflict itself obfuscates reality. Despite the term “cold war,” over 90,000 Americans were killed in the Korean and Vietnam wars. Although the main focus of history’s remembrance of the Cold War is the nuclear standoff between the Soviet Union and the US, the facts are that the deadliest conflicts of the era were proxy wars between the US and China. And far too many innocent people in Southeast Asia lost their lives in these conflicts. Some estimate that as many as 2 million civilians were killed in Vietnam, and 2.5 million in Korea.
This is the history we risk repeating if we don’t actively strive for peace. In the military doctrine, legislation, and rhetoric of our leaders, words like “dominate,” “control,” “deter” and other belligerent language proliferates. Words like these lead to violence and death.
Connecticut, through our elected officials and our strong ties to the military, has an opportunity to speak with a voice that calls for calm discussion, not plans for future wars. We need to ask our leaders to leave behind the language of conflict, and to find a way for us all to live together in true peace, rather than a fragile balance waiting to be upended.
Jamil Ragland writes and lives in East Hartford. You can read more of his writing at www.nutmeggerdaily.com.
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