President Joe Biden’s creation of a task force to assess existing policies regarding China and develop recommendations for addressing the “pacing threat” the country poses could mark a change in direction for the United States. The task force could also risk falling into the same pattern of past blue-ribbon panels: provide cover for elected officials to back unpopular policy recommendations that will end up fulfilling the wish list of the defense industry.
And if the Senate confirmation hearings for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks were any indication, Congress will be happy to rubber-stamp increased military spending to address the threat of China.
A quick search through the C-SPAN transcripts for the Austin and Hicks hearings show at least 70 mentions of China between the two Senate hearings. For example, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., referring to China and Russia, said: “I believe that we’re in the most dangerous time arguably in our lifetime.” Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., spoke to the challenges Austin would face as he focuses on “the near-peer competition with China and Russia.”
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