As our economy struggles to get back on its feet, it would be understandable for North Carolinians to focus on domestic concerns, those issues and problems that appear most pertinent to our daily lives here at home. Yet growing America’s economy and keeping our families safe depend today on our engagement with the rest of the world. In this respect, investing in America’s global leadership has never been more crucial to our state’s prosperity and security.
Technological advances and rising standards of living overseas have made the world more interconnected – creating new dangers as well as opportunities. For America to thrive and be secure in this global environment requires not just a strong defense, but also effective diplomacy and development that can prevent or resolve conflicts, lift nations out of poverty and open markets for U.S. businesses and workers. This “smart power” approach combining all the major instruments of American power – military and civilian – allows us to respond effectively to challenges abroad while also seizing the economic opportunities that lie in the developing world.
This is why we are proud to serve as co-chairs of the N.C. Advisory Committee for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition – an organization dedicated to strengthening and sustaining America’s smart power foreign policy approach around the world. This is something Republicans and Democrats agree on as U.S. international affairs programs are a wise commitment of resources that enhances U.S. security and competitiveness in an increasingly globalized economy.
Already North Carolina exports more than $30 billion in goods and services, and trade supports more than 1 in 5 jobs in the state. With sound policies and wise investments, there is potential for even more growth and employment.
Consider that more than 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States and that the fastest-growing markets are concentrated in developing nations, which already account for over half of U.S. exports. It is in these regions the U.S. government’s efforts can have the greatest effect by opening markets and enhancing health, education, commerce and standards of living. The result builds more stable and prosperous societies that want to buy, and can afford to buy, American goods and services, all of which leads to more jobs at home.
Preventing threats and crises from emerging abroad is especially important to North Carolina because of the proud military tradition we have in this state,home to Fort Bragg, Camp Lejeune, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and over 700,000 military veterans. Effective diplomacy and development programs help resolve differences and address conditions that may lead to armed conflict and that require an American military response. That is why Gen. James Mattis, the former commander of all U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central Asia, told senators earlier this year that, “If you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I have to buy more ammunition.”
History taught us that military strength, however important, is not enough to achieve America’s long-term goals and aspiration. In the wake of World War II, the Marshall Plan helped a devastated Europe become peaceful and prosperous allies and key trading partners. Americans continue to be a generous people who respond to disasters around the world and provide relief – and hope – to the neediest and most vulnerable. Helping these communities recover and prosper is not only the decent thing to do, it also forges friendships and partnerships that benefit our country over time.
In the months ahead, our elected leaders in Washington have some very difficult decisions to make regarding the federal budget. The International Affairs Budget makes up a little over 1 percent of all federal spending yet this modest investment in U.S. global leadership pays enormous dividends – for our country, for our state, for a better, safer world.
Jim Hunt served as governor of North Carolina 1977–1985 and 1993–2001. Jim Martin served as governor of North Carolina from 1985 to 1993. They co-chair the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition North Carolina Advisory Committee.