The Trump regime's official position and policy toward Chinese-owned telecommunications giant Huawei is literally undecided as the regime has scheduled a meeting for later this month to decide what their policy is, but Attorney General William Barr may have just given us some idea of what could come out of that meeting and in the months to follow.
Speaking at an economic and security conference hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Barr bizarrely called for the government to take a controlling stake in foreign telecommunication companies to counter Huawei's growing access to the world's telecommunications market.
In a remarkable statement underscoring how far the United States may be willing to go to counter Huawei, Barr said in a speech to a Washington think-tank conference on Chinese economic espionage there had been proposals to meet the concerns “by the United States aligning itself with Nokia and/or Ericsson.”
He said this was envisaged “through American ownership of a controlling stake, either directly or through a consortium of private American and allied companies.”
“Putting our large market and financial muscle behind one or both of these firms would make it a far more formidable competitor and eliminate concerns over its staying power, or their staying power,” Barr said.
It seems exceptionally odd to me that the attorney general is out there making this sort of counter-economic pitch. I suspect it wasn't his idea and that's why I believe it could be something that is considered during the Trump regime's upcoming meeting to decide what their policy is, but I digress in any case.
I call this 'bizarre' because Barr is not talking about about throwing taxpayer money behind American firms to counter China's Huawei. American companies have already built or are currently building next generation networks here in the United States. Nokia and Ericsson are Finnish and Swedish companies, respectively, and Barr is suggesting that we invest taxpayer dollars in them so they can compete with Huawei without going out of business.
It's kind of like a bailout, but for foreign companies.
I was going to make a joke about free market purists here, but there don't seem to be any of those left in conservative politics; at least not while a Republican still controls the White House. Conservatives would wail like banshees if the attorney general called for using taxpayer money to interfere in foreign markets and competitive business like this at any other time.
I'm not qualified to say that we absolutely shouldn't do what Barr is proposing, nor do I think it's necessarily a bad idea to invest in competitors instead of trying to unilaterally ban Huawei from the world, but the hubris of the United States' positions seems to grow by the day.
Huawei did not grow into what it is overnight nor did the rest of China, but now we want to dictate how far they're allowed to reach while playing catch-up in business.
Western dominance of global businesses is not something that just comes by default and it won't last if our leaders are only focused on the next quarterly report or the next rally. And maybe it shouldn't last.