Summary: The International Committee of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA IC) strongly condemns Congress’s use of industrial policy and other elements of the proposed US Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) to counter China as part of a new Cold War fueled by US imperialist interests, a stance that further destabilizes geopolitical relations and jeopardizes efforts toward greater global cooperation on issues affecting everyone worldwide.
The United States Congress is in the midst of drafting, debating, and presenting significant legislation regarding US industrial, diplomatic, and military policy. Industrial policy in the US is a prominent and important concern, as US infrastructure and development are under increasing strain. Infrastructure failures, privatized utilities, and a gutted social safety net clearly call for state intervention via a positive vision for American society. The most prominent element of the industrial policy legislation that has been drafted is the bipartisan US Innovation and Competition Act (USICA). Unfortunately, the legislation being drafted for infrastructure investments is being crafted to reinforce US imperial control throughout the world and to antagonize China. While there are overtures made toward the underlying need for American industrial policy, this entire discussion has been subsumed into a broader US imperialist position of “combating” China. The DSA International Committee (IC) condemns the use of industrial policy and other elements of the USICA to counter China, which will further destabilize geopolitical relations, entrench a new Cold War, and jeopardize global cooperation on issues no country can solve alone.
A major part of this legislative package is the Strategic Competition Act, which is primarily organized by strategic regions ranging from the Arctic to Oceania. The bill’s text is transparent about the reason: the industrial policy being described is designed to reinforce and expand the US imperial network throughout the world. When discussing the US relationship with Canada, the development of Canada’s 5G wireless data infrastructure is framed as aiding “Canadian efforts to identify cost-effective alternatives to Huawei’s 5G technology.” This bill, if enacted, would mandate that the US raise $80 billion in capital for the Inter-American Development Bank. Instead of earmarking this capital for helping fund critical infrastructure across Latin America and the Caribbean, it instead allows the US to restructure sovereign debt taken on by Latin American and Caribbean states from Chinese funding and condition them against further engagement with Chinese investments. For Africa, a continent where US-led institutions have promoted neoliberal exploitation, privatization of public functions, and austerity since the late 20th century, proposed US aid in the region is limited to developing technical infrastructure to support broadcasting of US-centric media to contend against Chinese investments. Overall, US public foreign investment or global aid under the USICA aims mainly to counter perceived threats to US imperialist interests from China in a dangerous geopolitical escalation rather than to use resources for human benefit.
One of the most concerning aspects of this legislation is the creation of a permanent federal bureaucracy directed toward combating China. Throughout the bill, there are multiple calls for the establishment of 90 to 180 day reports to Congress and various federal agencies on the progress and planning of anti-Chinese efforts throughout industries and regions of the world. The creation of a permanent federal bureaucracy for anti-Chinese imperialist activity creates a permanent constituency within the federal government for opposing and antagonizing China. Inevitably, such a bureaucratic apparatus would be dependent on continued funding for anti-Chinese activity and therefore be heavily incentivized to recommend increasing tensions with China.
Furthermore, this legislative package calls for deepening US military partnerships with its allies in the region, with the purpose of posturing against China. It calls for increasing Japan and Taiwan’s military capacity by facilitating the development and acquisition of long-range precision missiles, munitions, and other weapons. The bill raises the stakes further by providing funds for a pilot program for foreign military financing (FMF) compacts, in which the US would provide funding to increase the military capabilities of countries that meet certain criteria. There is also additional language calling for prioritizing the transfer of excess US military equipment and naval vessels to countries in the Indo-Pacific region. These provisions and others will only feed an arms race that would further increase US military spending and enrich arms manufacturers and defense contractors in the United States at the expense of genuine peace, security, and well-being for the US, China, and other nations trapped in this geopolitical escalation.
The DSA IC believes that US industrial policy should not be, nor does it have to be, built upon continued imperialist ambitions that serve only to drag the world into a new Cold War. We believe that the working class in the US and elsewhere deserves policies that invest in public works programs, climate resilience, infrastructure, healthcare, and more. However, the US Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) is not created for those purposes, its overwhelming focus being instead on antagonizing China. If enacted, it would deeply expand interference in national autonomy in much of the rest of the world, establish an anti-Chinese federal bureaucracy, intensify the militarization of US global policies, and continue the legacy of US industrial policy being utilized as a means to combat socialist movements globally. This legislation will promote confrontation and conflict with China, escalate potential conflict between nuclear powers, and hinder global cooperation to deal with issues like climate change. For these reasons, we strongly condemn the USICA proposal and call for an end to US aggression that severely threatens not only hundreds of millions of people in the Indo-Pacific region, but could lead to worldwide conflict.