Thomas Smith Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science
Dr. Ty Solomon, Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science
University of South Florida St. Petersburg
What do a solar panel, a smart bomb, and a baseball bat have in common? They all require rare earth elements to create/manufacture. The United States is widely considered the hegemon of the world. The American economy, which was previously hemorrhaging jobs, and is now growing anemically, is still larger, more balanced and more advanced than its competitors, especially given the transition to and integration of advanced technology. Its military prowess is unmatched by any two competing nations combined, and its quality of life for its citizens remains one of the highest in the world. Air planes, tanks, solar panels, plasma screen TVs, smart phones; all conceived and designed in the United States. The small problem rests with rare earth metals. This collection of minerals that nobody has ever heard of are critical to building most of the high tech gadgets, appliances, and machinery that makes the United States what it is today, and that increasingly look to shape the future economically and militarily.
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