Young Delivers Inaugural Richard G. Lugar Lecture at Indiana University
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) today delivered the Inaugural Richard G. Lugar Lecture at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies in Bloomington. Senator Young addressed America’s role in the world and confronting the challenges of the 21st Century.
“I commend President Trump and my colleagues in Congress for enacting new tax and regulatory policies, increasing investment in the skills required to fuel our 21st century workforce, and implementing new bipartisan free trade agreements. Collectively, these policies are the table stakes required to continue growing our economy, and thereby, as Paul Kennedy reminds us, to strengthen America’s global economic position, expand and enhance our sphere of influence, and preserve our system of government and capitalism as the source of both our shared prosperity and our national security. But our work is far from over,” said Senator Young.
“In the near future, American leadership will require bold action on three fronts. First, in strategic technological investment. Second, in smart, flexible nuclear modernization. And third, in ensuring China remains the top priority of our military and our diplomats,” Senator Young continued.
To read Senator Young’s full remarks, see below.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
Some refer to the 20th Century as the American Century. Rightfully so because America liberated Europe from tyranny and communism, and landed a man on the moon, all while extending the promise of our Founding to all Americans.
The question before us today is will the 21st Century be the Second American Century.
“The relative strengths of the leading nations in world affairs never remain constant, principally because of the uneven rate of growth among different societies, and of the technological and organizational breakthroughs which bring a greater advantage to one society than to another.”
So wrote Paul Kennedy in 1989, in his seminal book The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers.
I was a senior in high school at the time, months away from enlisting in the United States Navy.
At that time, the United States and the Soviet Union were the two great powers in world affairs and the Cold War had not ended, but the relative strengths of the leading nations was about to change dramatically.
The Soviets were outmatched by the solid economic base of America and our allies.
Between 1950 and 2000, annual GDP growth for the entire world was 3.9 percent.
The greatest and most prolonged era of global prosperity in history was during a period of American leadership.
Our rate of economic growth was faster; our technology superior; our society stronger.
The U.S. and our allies pushed the USSR.
The Soviet Union fell because we pushed it.
America emerged as the world’s lone superpower.
But, as Kennedy predicted, the relative strengths of leading nations in world affairs did not remain constant. In fact, the relative economic and military power of Europe and the United States began to dip as nations such as China, India, Japan, and Brazil began to grow their own capabilities.
Countries that were once incredibly poor – like China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore – have become incredibly rich. And since 1995, my senior year at the Naval Academy, athird of the developing world has seen a doubling of income every 18 years.
This has led to what Steven Pinker calls The Great Convergence, where more countries than ever are accessing free markets, reducing poverty and hunger, and creating a more sustainable future for their people. In short achieving greater parity with the leading countries in world affairs.
Roughly 75 years ago, America led the way in establishing international norms and institutions that would help bring order to the world after World War II, including organizations such as: the United Nations (UN), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the World Bank, the Global Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and its successor organization, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and norms like reciprocal trade, freedom of navigation, and secure domestic elections, just to name a few.
Today, economic and technological change has weakened these norms and institutions.
New and emerging threats to America’s economic and national security interests have accompanied shifts in geopolitical power relationships.
But the U.S. maintains the ability to shape events, even as we are affected by them.
Indeed, we have a responsibility to do so. American leadership has never been more crucial than it is today.
The 2016 Presidential election revealed sharp divides within our own nation. The campaigns surrounding BREXIT deeply divided the UK and the European Union. And, recent tensions with Turkey have raised questions about the future of NATO and our mutual security commitment.
Naturally, authoritarians in Beijing, Moscow, and elsewhere are seeking to take advantage of these opportunities.
Putin’s Russia seeks to influence elections and exploit fractures, not to determine winners but to sow seeds of doubt in the democratic project itself.
The Chinese Communist Party recently targeted our ally Taiwan by interfering in their elections.
Beijing ran a coordinated misinformation campaign against President Tsai who was running for election as a strong anti-China candidate against another who favored a closer relationship with the mainland.
Clearly, as articulated in the President’s 2017 National Security Strategy, great power competition has re-emerged, and China is the predominant challenger. And this is the new normal. But let’s be clear, we are not in a new Cold War with China.
America has the world’s most dynamic and resilient economy, and we must be prepared to flex our economic muscles when necessary, but it would be unwise to attempt to erect an economic iron curtain across China’s perimeter.
In today’s context of economic interdependence and complex supply chains, Cold War policies could have sharply different consequences for the global economy, and for Americans in particular. Still, America cannot fail to respond when democracy and market capitalism are challenged around the globe.
After America welcomed China into the liberal, international economic system – a system of free markets and free people – and gave it membership in the World Trade Organization, Robert Kagan offered this sobering counsel:
“We like to believe that the triumph of democracy is the triumph of an idea and the victory of market capitalism is the victory of a better system, and that both are irreversible. It’s a pleasant thought,” cautioned Kagan, “but history tells a different story.”
China shows us that democracy and market capitalism are reversible, and that the current threat environment markedly differs from the one America faced during the Cold War.
At the onset of the Cold War, the Soviet Union had ample opportunity to exploit power vacuums in Europe and Asia.
Contrast that with today: China is surrounded by a wealthy and proud Japan, a robust and nationalist India, a Russia seething over the loss of former Soviet territories, and a vigorous, competitive South Korea.
The Chinese know these realities.
In fact, Xi Jinping has studied communism to learn from its past failures and he is determined not to repeat the Cold War-era mistakes of Mao in China or Gorbachev in the Soviet Union.
For example, while the Soviet Union’s anti-capitalist message of proletarian justice and equality resonated in much of the world, China has no Universalist ideology to sell.
Kagan was right. America and our allies must not indulge the pleasant fantasy that better ideas and better systems will naturally prevail. They will not.
Today, Beijing disparages Western democracy and touts “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” but all the world can see that it has embraced a predatory, state capitalist mentality and a nationalist ethos.
Once again, the world and the relative strength of great powers is rapidly changing.
America has no choice but to lead with our values. Without the steady hand of American support and reassurance, new leaders will emerge. And those new leaders will seek to remake the world in line with their interests, not to defend democracy or market capitalism, nor to advance the universal human rights on which this nation was founded.
Fortunately, America is leading.
I commend President Trump and my colleagues in Congress for enacting new tax and regulatory policies. Increasing investment in the skills required to fuel our 21st century workforce. And implementing new bipartisan free trade agreements.
Collectively, these policies are the table stakes required to continue growing our economy, and thereby, as Paul Kennedy reminds us, to strengthen America’s global economic position, expand and enhance our sphere of influence, and preserve our system of government and capitalism as the source of both our shared prosperity and our national security.
But our work is far from over.
In the near future, American leadership will require bold action on three additional fronts.
First, in strategic technological investment.
Second, in smart, flexible nuclear modernization.
And third, in ensuring China remains the top priority of our military and our diplomats.
First, we turn to strategic investments in key technologies.
As the world changes and disruptive technologies emerge, America and our allies’ dominance will continue to be challenged by predatory, state capitalist countries who steal our intellectual property and otherwise do not hesitate to undermine our system of free markets, free trade, and free labor.
America cannot shy away from this challenge. Until recently, the United States has primarily been focused on defensive measures: Blocking Huawei’s 5G technical infrastructure, tightening export controls, increasing cyber-defenses, and enhancing the rules governing foreign investment in American businesses. Such measures are important, but insufficient. It’s time to play more offense.
The same adage heard on basketball courts around Indiana applies equally to geopolitics. The best defense is a great offense. Americans must take more shots at the basket. We must boldly invest in the frontier technologies that will drive our future economic growth, and shape international relations this century.
For generations, Americans have gone to the basket with an offensive approach to development and innovation that has raised millions out of poverty, eradicated polio, dramatically reduced global hunger, and expanded access to clean drinking water.
In the 20th Century, America developed and implemented an offensive strategy to catalyze American innovation and improve our shared future, allowing each generation to enjoy a materially better life than our parents. That strategy gave America the wherewithal to remain a leading nation in the world.
Think about how America’s strategic economic leadership in the 20th century fundamentally transformed our world.
One might trace the beginning of this initiative back to 1904 with the construction of the Panama Canal; and our economic and technological leadership continued across the next half century and beyond.
It saw the building of the Hoover Dam, and the implementation of the Manhattan Project and the Marshall Plan.
It paved the way for the Interstate Highway System.
It sparked the transformative work of NASA and DARPA.
And it opened up new opportunities to millions through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
In all of these projects, America invested smartly, working hand-in-glove with private innovators and investors.
This is perhaps best exemplified by the Apollo Program.
In 1957, America was caught flat footed by the Russian success of Sputnik 1. In an instant, Russia had taken the inside lane and seemed poised to win the Space Race. But America refused to go into a defensive crouch. Instead, an entire nation went on offense.
A year after the Sputnik launch, President Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, establishing NASA. President Kennedy then committed the nation to land a man on the moon. $140 billion would ultimately be spent to fulfill that mission.
Fast forward to today: following that innovation and seed funding, American dominance in aerospace contributes $2.3 trillion to the U.S. economy annually. This includes $143 billion in annual exports. Again, America exports more each year than the entire investment required to put a man on the moon.
The Apollo Program – and America’s quest to put a man on the moon – transformed America, and it transformed the world. It created new industries, provided new opportunities, and paved the way for a more assertive America.
Playing offense works.
It is time to renew America’s commitment to public-private innovation and invite our partners and allies to join us.
I am working on a bipartisan piece of legislation to fundamentally change the way the federal government invests in key technologies. This legislation will help fund cutting-edge projects in fields such as: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, robotics, biotech, and advanced energy technology.
These frontier technology areas offer unprecedented opportunities for our nation – just as the space program did for the aerospace industry.
The private sector is excellent at applied research. But some of the technologies destined to shape American’s economic and geopolitical future will not provide quarterly returns to shareholders.
Accordingly, it is in our national interest to pair strategic public bets in key technologies with private investment as we look to lead the world into the 21st century.
History tells us that government can catalyze American innovation by boosting fundamental research investments. While our public sector can focus on discovering and creating technologies, the private sector can then commercialize them, creating the technology industries of the future and a catalyst for future economic growth, just as the Space Program did for the aerospace industry.
Today, America’s economy is booming. We have the capacity and, in my view, an enlightened self-interest to protect market-driven growth, and to promote technological innovation.
Pivoting slightly, American leadership also means investing in and modernizing those tools that directly underwrite our national security.
Our experience since World War II teaches that global leadership is dependent not exclusively on our rate of economic growth relative to other societies, but also on our rate of technological breakthroughs, including the maintenance of our qualitative military advantage over adversaries to deter aggression.
We know our military – the threat of hard power – is what gives our Diplomats around the globe the support they need to carry out U.S. Foreign Policy.
A key component of our military strength is our nuclear arsenal.
There is a reason that regimes around the world pursue nuclear capabilities. They know that those who possess these weapons wield tremendous power on the world stage.
Around the globe we see nations desiring to be more assertive to bolster their strength relative to the leading nations of the world by taking steps in pursuit of nuclear weapons capability.
With so much of the world in geopolitical flux, it’s vitally important to carefully manage the nuclear arsenals both of our own country and that of our competitors – namely Russia & China.
Today, we stand at a critical juncture. If we allow our nuclear arms relationship with Russia to lapse – centrally, the New START Treaty – I am concerned that our security will become far more tenuous.
For nearly half a century, Republicans and Democrats in Congress have come together in pursuit of arms control and deterrence as the twin pillars of U.S. nuclear policy.
Overwhelming bipartisan majorities have approved a string of treaties between the U.S. and Russia, lowering the risk of nuclear catastrophe and curbing an arms race.
Nearly a decade ago – thanks to the strong leadership of Senator Dick Lugar – the Senate voted to ratify New START by a vote of 71-26 in a show of strong cross-party support.
Over the years, Congress has also unfailingly used its power of the purse to ensure that the U.S. maintains an effective nuclear deterrent.
Today, this relationship is in danger of unraveling. We must invest in nuclear weapon modernization programs to keep pace with the threats in our world.
There must be no doubt about America’s commitment to preserving a flexible, credible, and reliable deterrence posture for the decades ahead.
This is why, today, I am working in a bipartisan manner with Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland to preserve the New START treaty before it is too late.
Russia’s modernization of its nuclear forces is steadily progressing, and they are already in violation of the INF treaty.
If left unconstrained by any agreement whatsoever, in the near future Russia will be in a position to field hundreds of more warheads on their new advanced ballistic missiles.
Unfortunately, America’s modernization efforts are just beginning.
With new systems not coming off the production lines until the late 2020s, America’s qualitative military advantage is in jeopardy. It must be restored if nuclear deterrence is to be ensured.
As tensions with Moscow intensify, keeping a lid on Russia’s nuclear arsenal becomes all the more crucial.
New START’s verification activities are essential. From tracking the movement of road-mobile systems, to confirming data on the number of warheads Russia deploys on ballistic missiles, the treaty provides our military planners with critical information to shape and size our own nuclear arsenal.
Without New START, we risk being thrown into the dark, prone to overestimate and overreact to Russian nuclear deployments, or worse, underestimate them and be unprepared, forcing us to respond from a position of weakness.
The broadly understood linkage between arms control measures and preserving a strong nuclear deterrent led to the Senate’s approval of New START.
A bipartisan consensus emerged that, in exchange for codifying mutual restraint with Russia, Congress would fund programs to modernize our aging delivery systems and recapitalize our nuclear infrastructure.
It is important to remember that these efforts are vital for backstopping our security and that of our allies.
And while we should all embrace the goals of constraining Russia’s new weapons systems and including China in a broader arms control framework, it is critical to understand that New START is not an obstacle to achieving these goals. Nor should China’s absence be used as an excuse to oppose New START extension. In fact, it can serve as a springboard for pursuing modernization and deterrence as China’s capabilities mature.
As we think about New START extension in this era of divisive politics, I hope we will all remember what the late Senator Richard Lugar once said:
“We have the responsibility to ensure that our first impulse in foreign affairs is one of bipartisanship.”
Lastly, let me pivot back to a rising China.
By way of Congress and our modern record – or lack thereof – of carefully fulfilling our oversight responsibilities – especially in assessing the relative importance of our many military commitments around the world, let me be clear: Congress must up our game to ensure that China remains the top priority for our military and our diplomats.
I believe that it is time for Congress to be back in the driver’s seat on these issues. To faithfully carry out our constitutional obligation to oversee the responsible end to forever wars. And to focus more intently on the threats posed by a rising China.
As I discussed with Chairman Lee Hamilton recently, this requires Congress to push against the institutional stasis that prevents many in Washington from reassessing strategic priorities and, by extension, to prolong these wars.
We need to smartly deploy our limited economic, diplomatic, and military resources to protect our prosperity and the security of our people.
That means setting priorities.
China’s state capitalist economy – coupled with longer term ambitions to reshape the world order to the advantage of the Chinese Communist Party – presents a challenge the United States has never before seen.
China’s expansionist moves are a direct threat to Americans and to other freedom-loving peoples around the world.
To put it bluntly, the Chinese Communist Party’s values are not compatible with our own.
While there is an understandable desire among American businesses and universities to access Chinese consumers, and to attract Chinese investment, ultimately, this is a question of values.
As we have seen on the streets of Hong Kong where hundreds of thousands are standing up for democracy and human rights against a Beijing-backed government that claims independence but is clearly on a tight leash.
Or in Wuhan where the effects of the Coronavirus were kept under wraps until it spread beyond what China was able to control.
Or in Xianjiang where millions of Uighur Muslims are being held in secret re-education camps against their will simply for having a faith that is different from what the Communist Party in Beijing allows.
Or under the Belt & Road Initiative, through which infrastructure projects from South East Asia to Africa are handed over to Chinese owned businesses to complete, leaving local workers on the sidelines, and target nations are tied down by the constrictive strings attached…
The United States, characteristically, offers a better way.
Last year, I was proud to support the BUILD Act, a bipartisan effort to reimagine how we fund transportation and infrastructure projects in developing countries using public-private partnerships.
Under the BUILD Act, our government seeks to partner with private companies and investors and together, we invest in local businesses and local workers.
As China invests in transactional and parasitic relationships, the U.S. government can harness the power of private markets and capital to nurture 21st century alliances through sustainable and transparent economic development.
Looking forward into the next half century, the world that you students here today will graduate into is one where America’s strategic competition with China will continue to play out.
Perhaps Shanghai will aspire to eclipse New York as the finance capital of the world.
Or Shenzen will fund Hollywood productions that contain Chinese propaganda.
Or Beijing will continue taking on more leadership posts within various arms of the United Nations.
Believe it or not these things matter – BIGLY – to Indiana.
Hoosiers should keep in mind that the Asia-Pacific region, including China, is critical to the future prosperity of our farmers, manufacturers and consumers.
With nearly two-thirds of our total exports now going to the Asia-Pacific region, America must get this right.
At this critical moment, it is important for us to avoid the temptation to try to remake the entire world.
Instead, let us focus intently on the threat emanating from Beijing.
To conclude – America must lead on three fronts:
We must invest our resources smartly and boldly in next generation technologies.
We must sustain our military and diplomatic advantages.
And we must discipline ourselves to focus on our greatest strategic threats, especially those emanating from China.
If we do these three things, I am confident that the 21st Century will be known as the Second American Century.
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