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excelled.46 China formally adopted a pro-R&D policy in the middle of the 1990s and has been moving rapidly to raise government spending on basic research, to reform old structures in a fashion that supports a market economy, and to build indigenous capacity in science and technology.47

The United States is now part of a connected, competitive world in which many nations are empowering their indigenous “brainware” and building new and effective performance partnerships—and they are doing so with remarkable focus, vigor, and determination. The United States must match that tempo if it hopes to maintain the degree of prosperity it has enjoyed in the past.


Indeed, if we are to provide prosperity and a secure environment for our children and grandchildren, we cannot be complacent. The gradual change in England’s standing in the world since the 1800s and the sudden change in Russia’s standing since the end of the Cold War are but two examples that illustrate how dramatically power can shift. Simply maintaining the status quo is insufficient when other nations push ahead with desire, energy, and commitment.

Today, we see in the example of Ireland how quickly a determined nation can rise from relative hunger to burgeoning prosperity. In the 1980s, Ireland’s unemployment rate was 18%, and during that decade 1% of the population—mostly young people—left the country, largely to find jobs.48 In response, a coalition of government, academic institutions, labor unions, farmers, and others forged an ambitious and sometimes painful plan of tax and spending cuts and aggressively courted foreign investors and skilled scientists and engineers. Today, Ireland is, on a per capita basis, one of Europe’s wealthiest countries.49 In 1990, Ireland’s per capita GDP of $12,891 (in current US dollars) ranked it 23rd of the 30 OECD member countries. By 2002, Ireland’s per capita GDP had grown to $32,646, making it 4th highest among OECD member countries.50 Ireland’s unemploy-


Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. “Main Science & Technology Indicators, 2005.” Available at:,2340,en_2649_34451_1901082_1_1_1_1,00.html.


“China’s Science and Technology Policy for the Twenty-First Century—A View from the Top.” Report from the US Embassy, Beijing, November 1996.


W. C. Harris, director general, Science Foundation Ireland, personal communication, August 15, 2005.


T. Friedman. The End of the Rainbow. New York Times, June 29, 2005.


Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. “OECD Factbook 2005.” Available at:

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