Hurd on the Hill: A generation-defining struggle to shape the century

August 25, 2020
Hurd on the Hill: Local Columns

With political conventions wrapping up, it’s important for American voters to understand our national security is at stake. The presidential candidate who wins the November 3rd election must recognize and respond to a rapidly changing national security landscape set to affect not just our American Economy, but the entire world for well into the next century.

Our president will have to face our nation’s next defining battle—the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in cyberspace. This conflict has already begun and is happening at the beginning of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where technological changes over the next 30 years are going to make the last 30 years look insignificant.  

For years, the CCP has threatened global supply chains, stolen American intellectual property and economically bullied smaller countries. In short, foiling the CCP’s ambitions will not be easy. In fact, in November 2018, the National Defense Strategy Commission issued a report that determined the U.S. “might struggle to win, or perhaps lose, a war against China or Russia.” In other words, we have officially entered an age where America’s military and economic dominance are no longer guaranteed.

Every American voter should care about this struggle. We face a potential future where Mandarin and the yuan–not the English and the dollar, may dominate the global economy. Whoever wins this generation-defining struggle will shape the entire world for the rest of the century.

As our country braces for power competition with China and the ongoing Fourth Industrial Revolution, the next administration needs to focus on a foreign policy and national security strategy based on a simple principle: Be nice with nice guys and tough with tough guys. This is something I learned during my time as an undercover CIA officer. It means: If we want our enemies to fear us and our friends to trust us, we must have a clear understanding and delineation between our adversaries and allies.

Unfortunately, both the current and previous administration have failed to execute on this principle. The last administration treated Israel as an adversary and Iran as an ally. The current administration, at times, has treated Mexico, Canada, South Korea and Japan as enemies and Russia and North Korea as friends.

Countering a global threat is easier when you have friends. American leadership in international organizations, like NATO, has enabled 70 years of peace and prosperity for hundreds of millions of people. This peace has allowed our economy to become the world’s most important, the U.S. military to evolve into the most dominant fighting force in the world and Americans to enjoy a life the rest of the world envies. To continue this unprecedented run and to best China, the next administration needs to strengthen our alliances, not weaken them.

Collaborating with our friends can also help ensure American leadership is maintained in next-generation technologies. If we abdicate leadership in this arena, we will leave a vacuum for authoritarian countries to decide and define norms for the rest of the world on everything from warfare to privacy to how the global economy works.

Building upon existing coalitions, like the trilateral partnership codified in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, will also allow us to strengthen North American supply chains and bolster advanced manufacturing in the Western Hemisphere. This would create an alternative to the Chinese government’s growing global influence by enabling us and our partners to compete with and out-innovate General Secretary Xi Jinping’s state-controlled economy.

The challenge we face is not whether next-generation technology will be transformative and disruptive, but how we will manage the disruption. We must meet this head-on and mobilize the resources of our nation. If we do this, we can ensure the United States remains the most important economy and innovation center of the world, and that the values of the free world, not autocracies, guide the development of technology.

Since becoming the Representative for Texas District 23, it’s been a top priority of mine to fight for intelligence and national security matters in the halls of Congress by using my experiences, knowledge and skills form working in the CIA. I’ll continue to do all I can to focus on these generational challenges while fighting to ensure our country excels during what will be a time of unprecedented technological change.