Since retiring as a brigadier general after a 30-year career in the U.S. Army, I have continued to work to find ways to strengthen America's national security. To that end, I recently prepared a report that studied supply chokepoints in the American defense industrial base.
One of its conclusions: An increasing reliance on steel imported from international competitors puts our national security at risk.
The international market is awash in steel from China's state-owned mills. Although Washington has erected tariffs to keep Chinese steel at bay, its ripple effects are still felt here. In the U.S. market — one of the most open in the world — mills have idled in response to the cratering prices this flood has created. Imports are taking an increasingly large slice of the pie.
There's nothing wrong with fair market competition, but there's a heavier consideration at play: An overreliance on imports erodes our domestic steel industry's position as a cornerstone of our defensive infrastructure.
The Trump administration is considering that right now. It has turned to U.S. trade law — a Section 232 investigation — to determine whether the situation in the steel market constitutes a national security threat. I believe it does, and it can't be ignored. Steel is a vital input in the manufacture of America's defense and critical infrastructure — used in everything from ships, tanks, and armaments to bridges, rail systems, our electrical grid, and energy infrastructure.
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