Tags: Michele Flournoy | Richard Fontaine | national security | economy

Vibrant Economy Key to National Security: Policy Experts

Image: Vibrant Economy Key to National Security: Policy Experts
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By    |   Wednesday, 27 May 2015 01:31 PM

Republicans and Democrats are divided in what they see as the most important national issue, but national security is inextricably linked to economic growth and Washington needs to actively pursue both agendas, said Michele Flournoy and Richard Fontaine.

Flournoy, chief executive of the Center for a New American Security and former undersecretary of defense for policy in the Obama administration, and Fontaine, president of the center and former foreign policy adviser to Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain, wrote an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal outlining why the two issues must be considered in tandem.

"In siloed government agencies, though, they are too often considered in isolation," they wrote. "America's economy is the foundation of its military and political power, and boosting growth helps relieve the downward pressure on defense and foreign-affairs budgets that reduces Washington's ability to shape international events."

They said that perceptions about American retrenchment have been shaped both by the Obama administration's policies and also the country's decision to focus inward in the wake of the financial crisis. But the rise of the Islamic State and tensions in Eastern Europe have renewed an interest in engagement.

But a positive economic outlook is required if the United States is to maintain a strong international standing.

"Throughout U.S. history, periods of economic strife have coincided with America's trimming its national sails overseas. An internationally engaged U.S. must be an economically prosperous and confident one," they said.

"A bright economic outlook is a powerful counter to the narrative of American decline. It boosts perceptions of U.S. leadership and thus Washington's ability to shape and enforce the international rules of the road, in domains as diverse as trade, maritime security and cyberspace."

Flournoy and Fontaine contend that there is a need for a "bold and bipartisan international economic agenda." They say it must be defined by a strategy for trade and investment, energy, and international institutions.

For a start, Congress should grant the president trade-promotion authority to pave the way for the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, they said. Washington should also pursue a bilateral investment treaty with India.

On energy, they said that Congress should lift the ban on exports of crude oil which would boost employment and strengthen international trading relationships.

And Washington should be more engaged in shaping institutions such as the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and other institutions, even if they are the cause for concern.

"Over the past 70 years, the U.S. has pursued a free and open economic system that enhanced American prosperity and helped generate the power necessary to preserve it. The circle has been exceedingly virtuous.

"Now is the time to set an ambitious international economic agenda for the future. America's future prosperity and security demand it," they concluded.

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Republicans and Democrats are divided in what they see as the most important national issue, but national security is inextricably linked to economic growth and Washington needs to actively pursue both agendas, said Michele Flournoy and Richard Fontaine.
Michele Flournoy, Richard Fontaine, national security, economy
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2015-31-27
Wednesday, 27 May 2015 01:31 PM
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