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Rethinking Resilience

Todd Tucker
Mar 17 · 2 min read

In 2018, experts ridiculed Trump for imposing steel tariffs on a global basis, saying that there was no national security reason to have US self-sufficiency in steel and that we would always be able to count on supplies from allies in North America and Europe.

Welcome to 2020.

To be clear, there is no indication yet that we’re in a situation that the White House warned about. Indeed, the tariffs at this point are raising costs for businesses on top of the virus hit. (…)

But the last 48 hours show that the basic parameters under which we operate can shift very fast. The assumption that supply chains will stay open even under emergency settings is misplaced. (…)

When US policymakers initially approved the national security tariff powers in the 1950s, they were concerned with building up sufficient redundancy in production that the US could survive big exogenous shocks. (…)

Think pandemic that shuts down ports, coupled with geopolitical tensions that quickly escalate (perhaps over the pandemic response or supply shortages).

Seems less hypothetical this week.

That’s why this questioning of economic orthodoxy from seasoned foreign policy hands like @jennifermharris and Jake Sullivan is so valuable. Even if Trump asks some of the right questions, his answers are wrong or insufficient. (…)

Ditto the questioning of fragility-enhancing efficiency gains by international relations scholars like @henryfarrell and @ANewman_forward. (…)

The governing and business models that produced these fragilities have been increasingly constitutionalized in ways we’ll be sorting out for years to come. (…)

First, we must address the public health crisis. But over the medium term, rewriting the rules with resilience in mind is a must.

(Adapted from this thread.)

Todd Tucker

Written by

I write about democracy, political economy, and trade. Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and Roosevelt Forward.

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