Speaking Out on Economic Statecraft

October 25, 2011 By Erin OBrien

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently highlighted the importance of “economic statecraft” in maintaining U.S. global leadership.   In speeches at the Center for American Progress and the Economic Club of New York, she acknowledged that the United States faces economic hardships due to the recession and emphasized a comprehensive approach focused on how our global alliances, economic trade and foreign assistance enhance the power and image of the United States abroad.

“Economic statecraft has two parts,” she said.  “First, how we harness the forces and use the tools of global economics to strengthen our diplomacy and presence abroad; and second, how we put that diplomacy and presence to work to strengthen our economy at home.” With 95% of consumers now located outside of our borders, it is increasingly clear how intertwined our international political and economic policy is.

In fact, as Secretary Clinton pointed out, other states have already connected political and economic success into their national foreign policy strategies. “Emerging powers like India and Brazil put economics at the center of their foreign policies. When their leaders approach an international challenge, just as they do when they approach a domestic challenge, one of the first questions they ask is: How will this affect our economic growth?” In order to maintain or position as economic superpower, the U.S. must continue to pursue economic engagement with the rapidly growing markets in the developing world.

By continuing to invest in a strong and effective International Affairs Budget, American security interests can also be advanced. An America that shares our values and wealth with others will keep us safer at home, and the importance of maintaining our global leadership through these investments. “Half of life is showing up, and that means the United States can’t sit on the sidelines. This is the time to press forward, not to pull back. Leadership is in our DNA; we would do great harm to who we are as Americans if we withdraw.” By remaining at the forefront of aid to developing nations, we are able to ensure that our values of freedom and democracy are available to everyone. This will create allies for the United States, turning potential threats into valuable partners.

Last week, Secretary Clinton joined the launch of a new partnership with General Motors in Uzbekistan, where she noted that “the use of American machinery and technology as well as the revenues created from the annual production of more than 225,000 new power-trained engines will also support jobs in the United States for Americans.”  She emphasized the importance of all elements smart power abroad:  diplomatic, development, and economic.  Other nations have already implemented these strategies into their foreign policy, leaving the United States with the danger of losing our position as a global leader if we do not keep up.