Border security and global competitiveness in spotlight on panel with Gov. Ducey, Iowa’s Ernst and former national security advisor

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Robert O’Brien, the former national security advisor, discussed border security, the crisis in Ukraine, global competitiveness and more on a panel last week in Phoenix organized by the Bastion Institute and moderated by Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry President and CEO Danny Seiden. 

The border crisis 

O’Brien, the 27th national security advisor, spoke on the important distinction between the ongoing conversation over immigration and the national security implications of the situation at the border. 

“What folks don’t understand about the border issue is that it’s not an immigration issue. It gets conflated with it for political wins, but it’s a national security issue,” O’Brien said. “Additionally, it’s a public health situation. These people are coming to the border where there is no testing, no mask, and no vaccination card required.” 

Ernst said the illicit drug trade occurring at the border affects the entire country.  

“We’ve stopped traffickers that have enough fentanyl to kill every United States citizen,” she said. “To have a sovereign country you have to have borders that are being controlled.” 

Globalization and competitiveness 

All the panelists agreed on the importance of increasing domestic manufacturing as a means of lessening the U.S.’ reliance on foreign supply chains. 

O’Brien cited his concern over the U.S.’ ability to access silicon chips. 

“We’ve allowed our supply chain to be outsourced,” O’Brien said. “It’s one thing to outsource with our allies and trust partners. But we need to onshore to the extent that we can.” 

Under Gov. Ducey, Arizona has successfully recruited companies that are looking to onshore their work in the U.S. Recent economic development wins for the state include Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company’s (TSMC) new facility in North Phoenix and the expansion of Intel in Chandler, both multi-billion-dollar investments. 

Gov. Ducey said that the goal is to “repatriate manufacturing back to North America. A strong North America is going to be more powerful, peaceful and productive.” 

Ernst stressed the importance of the federal government maintaining a soft touch when it comes to economic regulations, citing the need for the U.S. to domestically extract the critical minerals necessary for technological components.

“Our role as the federal government should be that we are encouraging American innovation and competitiveness,” she said. “When you have a government that is so prohibitive when it comes to mining and drilling, we’re not going to be able to compete with near-peer competitors.” 

The war in Ukraine

Ernst discussed the economic impact of the war between Ukraine and Russia and its effect on the U.S. and our national security interests in the region.  

“Our markets are dependent on stabilization in Europe,” she said. “We have some oversight to deal with it in Congress. We need to win the war there so it doesn’t spread.” 

Gov. Ducey spoke to the duty the U.S. has to help other democracies saying, “Ukraine’s cause is our cause. We can get materials and weapons to the people who are ready and eager to use them.” 

O’Brien said the world is closely watching the U.S.’ reaction to the war and its level of intervention. If other countries’ leaders believe that Putin has gotten away with this invasion, they will follow suit, he said. 

“What we’re doing in Ukraine is telling for the Pacific,” he said, referring to China. “We’ve got to get serious about helping Ukraine because that sends a message.” 

The panel concluded with optimistic sentiments about the future of the United States, its institutions and its role in the world. 

“America is fundamentally strong. We’re going through a tough time; we have before and we’ll get through it again,” O’Brien said. 

The Bastion Institute, the event organizer, is focused on promoting the importance of America’s engagement and strength abroad and the impact that has on Americans here at home.

Taylor Hersch

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