On Wednesday, former US Navy SEAL Adm. William McRaven noted the “gap is narrowing” between the US and China technologically, referring to it as a “holy s**t” moment. He advises that if the US doesn’t double down on science and technology education and act decisively to forestall Beijing’s rise, it will soon leave Washington in the dust.
McRaven, who as Joint Special Operations Command chief in 2011 oversaw link the Pakistan raid that killed al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden, presented a new report link to the Council on Foreign Relations think tank Wednesday. Titled “Innovation and National Security: Keeping Our Edge,” the report raises the alarm about China closing the technological gap with the US and points to key ways that China is excelling and how the US is failing to keep pace.
"We need to make sure that the American public knows that now is the time to do something," he said in remarks at the think tank. The problem, he says, is that there is no “Sputnik” moment link to spark urgency in a nationwide effort to maintain the US’ tech lead [image: Navy Vice Admiral William McRaven during a ceremony in White House, 2011.]
“China, now the world’s second-largest economy, is both a US economic partner and a strategic competitor, and it constitutes a different type of challenger,” the report’s executive summary notes. “Tightly interconnected with the United States, China is launching government-led investments link, increasing its numbers of science and engineering graduates, and mobilizing large pools of data link and global technology companies link in pursuit of ambitious economic and strategic goals.”
“The United States has had a time-tested playbook for technological competition,” the report says, noting the country’s pattern of deep investments in research and development (R&D), science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and attracting and retaining experts from around the world.
However, the US “faces a critical inflection point” in all these fields, the report notes. “US leadership in science and technology is at risk because of a decades-long stagnation in federal support and funding for research and development. Private-sector investment has risen, but it is not a substitute for federally funded link R&D directed at national economic, strategic, and social concerns.”