January 27, 2014

Senator Tim Kaine, General James Mattis, and Robert Zoellick Address Impact of U.S. Global Engagement on Virginia

American Leadership in the World Vital to Virginia’s Economy and Security

Richmond, VA — Top military, business, and community leaders joined Senator Tim Kaine, recently retired CENTCOM Commander General James Mattis, and former World Bank President Robert Zoellick for a luncheon discussion today on the strong impact America’s engagement in the world has on Virginia’s economy and security.

More than one in five Virginia jobs depends on international trade, and as over half of U.S. exports already go to the developing world, investing in programs funded by the U.S. International Affairs Budget is critical to growing the state’s economy. Participants at the event applauded Virginia Congressional leaders for their commitment to ensuring American leadership in the world.

“We see the direct economic value of our country’s investments in international development programs right here in Virginia where our local manufacturers are selling billions of dollars in products overseas each year,” said Senator Kaine.  “Our International Affairs investments advance America’s interests in a competitive world, creating jobs at home at a time when we need to do all we can to grow our economy.”

Virginia companies exported over $30 billion in goods and services in 2012, making the state a leader in the global economy and underscoring that support for U.S. international affairs programs is a strategic issue for local communities.

“Developing countries now buy about half of America’s exports, and these markets will be even more important for our own economic growth and jobs in years to come,” said Robert Zoellick.  “While people used to think of development as charity or a humanitarian cause, it’s now clearly in our own national interest.”

In addition to building economic prosperity, U.S. foreign assistance is a powerful tool used to protect America’s national security by combating terror threats, promoting global stability, and preventing conflict before it occurs.

“Our national security doesn’t solely rest on how fast we can put boots on the ground in conflict zones, but also on the critical work of our diplomats and development experts,” said General Mattis.  “To do this takes resources, though, which is why I told the Senate last year that if they don’t fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.”

“It’s clear that Virginians see the value America’s global engagement brings to their communities,” said USGLC Executive Director Liz Schrayer.  “Our International Affairs Budget makes up just one percent of federal spending, and Senator Kaine, General Mattis, and Mr. Zoellick were spot on in saying how important that investment is to strengthening our economy, security, and demonstrating the best of who we are as Americans.”

The event also featured a variety of other Virginia leaders, including Anne Goddard, CEO of ChildFund International, former Lt. Governor John Hager, and Brett Vassey, President & CEO of the Virginia Manufacturers Association.

The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (www.usglc.org) is a broad-based influential network of 400 businesses and NGOs; national security and foreign policy experts; and business, faith-based, academic and community leaders in all 50 states who support a smart power approach of elevating development and diplomacy alongside defense in order to build a better, safer world.