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Presentation made at the Mackinder Forum session of the American Society for Competitiveness Conference in Washington, DC October 27, 2017.

Abstract

Rare earth elements (REE) contain unique chemical physical properties such as lanthamum, are found in small concentrations, need extensive precise properties to separate, and are critical components of modern technologies such as laser guidance systems, personal electronics such as IPhones, satellites, and military weapons systems as varied as Virginia-class fast attack submarines, DDG-51 Aegis destroyers, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and precision guided munitions. The U.S. has some rare earth resources, but is heavily dependent on access to them from countries as varied as Afghanistan, Bolivia, and China. Losing access to these resources would have significant adverse economic, military, and political implications for the U.S. and its allies. This presentation examines the critical strategic importance of these resources, the historical origins and contemporary development of U.S. strategic minerals policy, and how multiple U.S. Government agencies are involved in this emerging policymaking arena. It features significant use of U.S. and foreign government statistics and analyses and scholarly journal literature. It will conclude by suggesting efforts to limit the severity of this problem to the U.S.' economy and national security interests.

Keywords

rare earth elements, strategic minerals, geopolitics, national security, mineral resources, China, industrial policy

Date of this Version

10-27-2017