BRUSSELS–U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Tuesday joined the German Marshall Fund’s Brussels Forum for a discussion on defending democracy at home and abroad.
Murphy highlighted the global crisis of faith in democracy: “You have this ability today of outside actors to weaken — to make vulnerable — European and American democracies. You have an inability of these democracies to deliver the kind of economic salvation and the kind of economic opportunity that is expected in these nations. This is the moment where we've got to bind together. We've got to have answers for these threats that are posed to democracies from the outside…So I think it's a moment where we shouldn't sugarcoat the questions that are being asked in Europe and in the United States about the efficacy of democracy in the long run. We shouldn't underplay the threats from the outside that we have to have answers for.”
On the United States Innovation and Competition Act, Murphy said: “We call it our competitiveness bill, but it is a piece of legislation that finally understands that there's no way for the United States to compete with China without a domestic industrial policy — that we're going to have to have a deeper integration of public and private sector in order to compete with China's strategy of midwifing technologies domestically and through subsidy and direct integration of the public and private sector, and then unleashing them on the world at a cost that the private sector cannot compete with. And so, in our legislation, we seek to first build that public-private partnership around the microchip industry to say that it is just mission critical for the United States to be able to have that capability here in the United States to be able to own it in the long run.”
Murphy continued: “This model is going to have to be expanded to look at advanced battery technology, artificial intelligence, [and] all of the sort of world-dominating technologies of the next 50 years that China is seeking to monopolize. And we've got to do this in consultation and coordination with Europe.”
On lessons learned from the current energy crisis, Murphy said: “We've got to do the hard work now to take a look at critical industries and critical supply chains and at least create the capability for the West to be able to make ourselves independent. So if that conflict does come, China doesn't sort of have that sword of Damocles sitting over the West. And we've got to make sure that critical technologies that we have — between the United States and Europe and Taiwan and Asian democracies — the ability to make for ourselves what we need to power our economies. That's a lesson that we, frankly, should learn from the continued energy dominance of Russia over Europe that has lasted past the invasion of Ukraine.”
On the importance of the U.S. increasing its capacity to counter disinformation, Murphy said: “The U.S. has capacities to deal with misinformation that we dramatically underfund, and we make a decision to fight this battle with one hand tied behind our back. Senator Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, and I, years ago, established something called the Global Engagement Center, which is a new capacity inside the Department of State that seeks to fund independent organizations all around the world, basically on Russia's periphery and China's periphery, that are truth tellers, that are fact checkers, that are telling stories of objective journalism. But we put a pittance of money into that program — one quarter the cost of an aircraft carrier — despite the fact that, I would argue, misinformation is a bigger threat to the United States and our friends than conventional militaries are today. And so we’ve just got to make a decision to resource these efforts.”
On the U.S.-India relationship, Murphy said: “I think what's important for us is to show a future for them that allows them to be more deeply integrated with the United States and other partners. So, continued investment in the Quad and building out the Quad’s capabilities and perhaps membership beyond sort of simple defensive security alliances. I hope it gives the Indian government confidence that they will be able to find more security and economic partners amongst the community of democracies.