In tech, Metcalfe’s Law posits that a network becomes more useful in proportion to the number of its users, squared. That means big networks are much more valuable than small ones. A Silicon Valley veteran at the State Department is trying to harness the power of Metcalfe’s Law to build a network of nations to counter China—a notable change in tone after years in which the Trump administration pursued a go-it-alone, “America First” strategy.
Keith Krach was named undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy, and the environment in June 2019. He coined the term Clean Network and leads the initiative, which seeks to keep telecom gear made by Huawei Technologies Co. and other Chinese companies out of communications networks in democratic nations. Krach describes the Huawei effort as a “beachhead” in a wider battle to unite against Chinese economic pressure in everything from investment to strategic materials.