Editor's Notes

Robert Hummel PhD

Robert Hummel, PhD

This issue of STEPS includes articles that are inspired by the Potomac Institute’s Global Competition Project.  During the project, which is ongoing, the Institute holds symposia with invited experts to discuss societal-level issues associated with competition between nations on varying dimensions of economic, military, and political sectors.

The culmination of the first phase of the project is summarized in an article by Al Shaffer, who calls for a renewal of American commitment to enduring values and development of strategies to ensure constancy to those values. In this way, America can maintain a competitive posture that positions the nation for economic and military security.

The Institute has long focused on microelectronics as an enabler of technological advances and a competition among nations for dominance in supplies of semiconductors.  An article by Brian Shirley points out that while the CHIPS Act intends to bolster the US position in supplying semiconductors for our needs, the tax code inhibits R&D that is vital to the development of a domestic production capacity.  A change to tax treatment of R&D that became effective in 2022 is being considered for recission, and this article points out the need for that change as soon as possible.

One of the dimensions of competition involves innovation for national security interests. Other nations, particularly China, have learned that technological innovation is important in military affairs, and are competing with the US tradition of innovation in development of defense systems.  The Institute conducted a major study for the Department of Defense, as directed by a previous act of Congress, looking at sixteen different areas of impact to the capacity of the national security innovation base. I compiled a selection of the work of a large number of researchers at the Institute to highlight three areas for action where the US could reinvigorate innovation for national security.

The Global Competition Project, from its inception, has considered national security to involve competition in military, economic, and political spheres.  Yet our tools for combatting punitive economic measures against the US are uncoordinated and limited. Tim Welter and colleagues discuss the concept of an economic warfare operations capability, detailing the structure and missions that such an organization might entail.

One of the thorny issues that the Global Competition Project considered was the competition for energy sources, which are currently dominated by oil and gas deposits. These are unevenly distributed throughout the world, causing geopolitical and economic competitions. Independent of the issue of carbon emissions, the Institute considered the prospects for other energy sources to supply US economic and military goals.  Dr. Moriah Locklear and I compiled some of the thoughts in an article on those prospects for future supplies.

STEPS welcomes submissions for future issues, whether by affiliates of the Potomac Institute, or others, on topics related to science and technology policy.  As with this issue, STEPS is published in pdf form online, and widely disseminated electronically to policy-makers and stakeholders.  Enjoy this and future issues.

Dr. Robert (Bob) Hummel
Editor-in-Chief, STEPS
Chief Scientist, Potomac Institute
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