The term “National Security Industrial Base” (NSIB) appeared in the 2018 National Security Strategy. The NSIB is the “network of knowledge, capabilities, and people—including academia, National Laboratories, and the private sector—that turns ideas into innovations [and] transforms discoveries into successful commercial products.” This report outlines elements of the NSIB and how a commercially driven innovation differs from a defense-centric approach to technology. The U.S. innovation ecosystem is based on a mix of strong research universities, flexible financial systems, a competitive business focus, and risk-taking, entrepreneurial culture that is skilled at commercializing research. Other countries have similar strengths, but not at the same scale.
Technology is the new frontier of international relations. The interaction is bi-directional: technology is defining diplomatic matters while diplomacy is also influencing the development and deployment of technology.
Take semiconductors as an example. This is a technology that forms the foundation of digital economy, national security, and productivity in almost all industries. Global supply chain in the semiconductor industry is shaping U.S. foreign policy. Conversely, America’s diplomatic effort has been redefining the supply chain.
Tech diplomacy is different from science diplomacy, which became a key pillar for the U.S. and other countries since World War II. Scientists participated in treaty negotiations, engaged in bilateral summits and served as attachés at embassies. Primary topics included nuclear proliferation, super-collider construction, human space exploration and environmental science.