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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The president’s primary responsibilities are to protect national security and enable inclusive prosperity. Mr. Trump’s record and Biden’s facile vision make the incumbent the better choice.

China is more than an economic rival. Its authoritarian approaches to economics and personal liberty permitted better containment of COVID-19 and a quicker economic recovery, and it’s poised to have the largest economy and most powerful Navy in the world in the 2030s.


Democrats and European leaders recognize the threats posed by China’s mercantilism and technology theft. Whereas Messrs. Trump and Biden would pursue similar tax incentives—both propose lower taxes or subsidies for firms that bring back jobs—Mr. Biden foolishly would rely on the WTO to accomplish peaceful coexistence.

No matter who is elected, the Europeans also find China intractable in negotiations, and Japan, Australia, India and South Korea have active policies to disengage supply chains from China and increase defense spending. Other Asian states, like the Philippines and Vietnam, won’t be able to play both sides.

The world is devolving into competing spheres with growth driven by high-tech behemoths. China offers other nations the means to control domestic populations—facial recognition and individual tracking technologies undergirding its Social Credit System and repression of Muslims in Xinjian—and Trojan Horses like Huawei’s 5G.

America offers an open technology system where entrepreneurs can build wealth and create jobs. Businesses are prospering on Amazon’s and Microsoft’s clouds and selling apps on smartphones. Manufacturers and traditional service enterprises are finding new ways to compete with American and Japanese robotics and artificial intelligence.

China’s growing military prowess makes America’s defense commitment to Taiwan increasingly precarious. Unless we shift resources from the Middle East and Europe to the Pacific, spend more on defense and establish a forward deployment base—finally replace Subic Bay—our friends in the region will eventually see the futility in reliance on America.

Mr. Trump has engineered detente between Israel and Arab Gulf states. With the tactic approval of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have established formal diplomatic relations with the Jewish state and a Semitic alliance is emerging to confront Iran.

He has engineered newly initiated peace talks between the Taliban and government in Afghanistan.

After decades of double breasted and pocket handkerchief diplomacy, Mr. Trump is getting the Europeans to recognize they must take more responsibility for their own defense.

All this helps the American military’s shift toward Asia, whereas Mr. Biden would falsely seek to resurrect the old regime in NATO and overburden our forces with responsibilities both on the continent and in the Middle East.

He has said little about shoring up America’s Navy and other military assets. He heads a party with an influential left wing that advocates isolationist trade policies and less defense spending—the Obama/Biden administration happily cut the Pentagon’s budget on assuming office.

For American technology to thrive and create opportunities for investment and better jobs, it requires broad global markets. Access in Asia and elsewhere requires our allies feel secure and not throw their lot with China.

Mr. Biden’s has said next to zero about these issues, and America can’t afford to vote for an unknown quantity.

Domestically, he advocates a European-style industrial policy—forcing the great transformation from a fossil fuel to a renewal energy based economy quicker than the science permits by shutting down much of the domestic oil industry and forcing America into electric vehicles sooner than any of that is economically viable.

Mr. Obama’s notable follies—high speed rail and Solyndra—illustrate where that would lead but this time on a grander scale.

Appeasing rioters and looters that piggyback on Black Lives Matters demonstrations by handcuffing police and adopting progressive policies with histories of failure would worsen and harden inequality.

The Obama-Biden Administration aggressively encouraged systemic changes in policing in cities like Chicago, but those often hosted this summer’s violence and destruction of property. Civil disorder hardly opens doors to jobs creating investments in minority communities.

Aggressive pursuit of affirmative action and minority set asides did little to improve the relative economic status of Blacks and Hispanics, whereas poverty declined and the incomes of those groups improved relative to whites during the Trump expansion interrupted by the pandemic.

Growth is the best antidote to inequality—raising taxes and Wokeism invokes piety, not progress.

Like it or not, Mr. Trump sees our choices as they are. Mr. Biden’s return to normalcy would take America back to approaches that experience shows don’t work.

• Peter Morici is an economist and emeritus business professor at the University of Maryland, and a national columnist.


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