Why it matters: From ISIS to North Korea, Iran to Russia, there are no shortage of threats to our national security. While a strong military is the first line of defense, a highly respected America on the international stage likewise strengthens our security here at home. U.S. leadership through diplomacy and trade, coordinated with our allies, helps achieve that goal while preventing situations that lead to serious threats to our national security.
Where I stand: Strong relationships with our NATO allies and steadfast partners around the world, such as Israel and South Korea, are vital to confronting the security and economic challenges of the 21st century. Maintaining an open global dialogue helps protect and advance our foreign policy goals as we strive to expand our democratic ideals and shape policies to protect our interests—and those of our allies—abroad. Through skillful diplomacy, the U.S. has, among other things, reduced global arms and narcotics trafficking; helped fight human trafficking; protected the rights of all to practice their faith; and eliminated suffering from food insecurity and global health epidemics.
Resolving crises through diplomacy prevents them from escalating while reducing human suffering around the world. This doesn’t mean throwing money or military personnel into conflict zones. Instead, what we need to do is continue taking a lead in coordinating relief with non-governmental organizations and our international partners like the World Food Program and the World Health Organization. Aid that has proven effective channels the dedication and compassion of doers, not takers. We should continue to promote effective programs that save lives and build goodwill for the U.S. around the globe.
For a good example of how the U.S. can make a difference by following this approach, look toward the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) and the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)—two successful programs established by President George W. Bush in the early 2000’s. Taking steps as simple as providing mosquito nets, clean water and treatments have saved countless lives and has prevented global health crises from spreading across sub-Saharan Africa. These types of innovative efforts deserve the commitment necessary to succeed.
Similarly, fair trade deals, when properly negotiated, should be given a chance to succeed. The benefits of fair trade deals go far beyond just helping our economy by allowing U.S. manufacturers, agricultural producers and small businesses to compete in today’s global marketplace. Fair trade agreements also help keep Americans safe. Properly negotiated agreements allow us to not only trade goods, but ideas with nations that may not always share our ideals. In doing so, we can remain competitive and create jobs at home, while pushing for human rights and democratic change.