April 18, 2017
Tysons Corner, VA – The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) hosted an event with U.S. Representative Gerry Connolly, Vice Admiral William Sullivan, and John Mennel, Managing Director of Social Impact Practice for Deloitte Consulting, along with more than 100 state leaders to discuss how American engagement abroad spurs economic growth in Virginia and promotes national security. With the Administration’s proposal to cut funding for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) by nearly one third, this event about America’s role in the world is critical.
Other speakers included Mayor David Meyer of the City of Fairfax, Dr. Andrew Deutz, Director of International Government Relations for The Nature Conservancy, and Ambassador Barbara Stephenson, President of the American Foreign Service Association.
“With growing crises overseas, we must not turn our backs. A robust and fully funded State department and USAID is more important now than ever before,” said U.S. Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA). “American leadership abroad — through the work of our nation’s diplomacy and development programs, alongside the military — keeps the United States and Virginia safe, strong and economically prosperous.”
“Whether we like it or not, the rest of the world looks to the United States for leadership in international affairs,” said Vice Admiral William Sullivan. “That leadership sometimes requires military action, but always requires thoughtful diplomacy. Given the choice, thoughtful diplomacy is far preferable to military action. As has been said before, ‘you cannot surge trust.’ That is why an adequately resourced international affairs program is so important. If the U.S. fails to lead, we may not like who steps in to fill the void.”
Virginia is home to some of the largest global brands and companies —from Booze Allen to General Dynamics— with rapidly growing international operations in emerging markets. State-wide, exports play a major role in the economy with more than $18 billion in goods sold to foreign markets every year and trade supporting over 1.1 million local jobs, making international trade a key issue for Virginia.
“What a lot of people don’t know about is the economic growth aspect of what the International Affairs Budget does,” said John Mennel, Managing Director of Social Impact Practice for Deloitte Consulting. “It’s all about creating stable countries that can be good trading partners for us, that can be good places for U.S. investment, and a lot of that work is extremely cost-effective.”
“This conversation could not come at a more critical time for the U.S. and Virginia,” said Jason Gross, Executive Director of the USGLC. “Funding for our civilian-led tools is in jeopardy. These tools of development and diplomacy not only strengthen American leadership, but also bolster our national security and create new opportunities for businesses here at home. Congressman Connolly and all of the state leaders here today understand that leading globally really does matter locally for Virginia.”
The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (www.usglc.org) is a broad-based influential network of 500 businesses and NGOs; national security and foreign policy experts; and business, faith-based, academic, military, and community leaders in all 50 states who support strategic investments to elevate development and diplomacy alongside defense in order to build a better, safer world.