“Speak softly and carry a big stick” President Theodore Roosevelt, 1900
There are many foreign policy issues facing the U.S. at the present time:
- Russia is stirring up unrest in Eastern Europe by threatening the independence of Moldova and the Ukraine as well as several NATO countries.
- The Middle East is in turmoil stirred up by ISIS and the effort to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
- China is working hard to assert dominance in East Asia.
The world is more stable when there is a single dominant power such as the U.S.. If the U.S. retreats from this role, it is inevitable that regional powers such as Russia, China and Iran will assert themselves to take up the slack. We don’t need to act as the world’s policeman every time a problem flares up around the world. But democracies are better actors on the world stage than are autocracies. Therefore the whole world benefits when the U.S. projects power and interest.
A column in today’s Wall Street Journal by Michele Flournoy and Richard Fontaine makes a very important point, namely that “Economic Growth Is a National Security Issue.” In other words, the stronger is our economy, the more influence and respect we will enjoy in our relations with other countries. Especially they recommend emphasizing:
- Trade and Investment. It looks like Congress will give the President trade-promotion authority for negotiating a Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement. Indian, African and European trade agreements could then follow.
- Energy. The ban on the export of crude oil and natural gas should be lifted.
- International Institutions. A Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank will be much less of a threat to the U.S. one a TPP trade agreement goes into effect.
Ms. Flournoy and Mr. Fontaine are focused here on international economic growth. But all economic growth, domestic as well as international, will make the U.S. stronger and therefore better able to project power.
Conclusion: we need to focus more strongly on economic growth in all of its guises!