When the Trump administration decided protecting the U.S. steel and aluminum industries from foreign competition was a matter of national security, its argument for new tariffs wasn't simply that the country needs those metals to make weapons or build critical infrastructure.
“Government is saying we need to protect certain industries as a reliable component of the American economic system in order to look after the national security,” said Daniel Rosen, founding partner of the Rhodium Group, a research consultancy. “This is a new world.”
Whether it's new tariffs or blocking a foreign acquisition of a U.S. firm, many of the Trump administration’s recent trade and investment decisions have come from the core belief that economic security is national security. In fact, the president and his team have often repeated that phrase while defending these actions.
It's a view the Trump administration laid out back in December, when it published its new national security strategy. Economic security was one of its four main pillars.
“[It argued] that our national security requires us to take a much more holistic view of what will make us safe and secure and defensible in the future,” Rosen said.