SENATOR BOREN ON AMERICA'S ROLE IN THE WORLD (Senate - May 02, 1990)
Mr. PELL. Mr. President, our colleague, Senator Boren, recently wrote an article, published in the Washington Post, arguing that a changed world calls for a new vision of the United States role in it.
Senator Boren argues that as the perceived Soviet threat declines, America's allies around the world will feel that they do not need U.S. protection any longer. In addition, with an increase in their own prosperity, they do not need us economically as much as they once did. All of this adds up to a declining willingness of our friends and allies to follow the U.S. lead on international issues.
In response to this challenge to the U.S. position in the world, Senator Boren concludes that the United States cannot afford to rely on the same foreign policy tools put in place by the Truman administration 45 years ago. He proposes that we link foreign aid to the purchase of American products, that the staffing of U.S. embassies abroad should reflect a greater emphasis on promoting our economic interests, and that the student exchange program be greatly increased.
These and other recommendations by Senator Boren make eminently good sense, and they deserve thoughtful consideration by the President and Congress. I ask unanimous consent that the full text of Senator Boren's excellent article be printed at this point in the Record.
There being no objection, the article was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
From the Washington Post, May 2, 1990
. . . For a Model Nation
For the past four decades, America's allies have been willing to follow this country's lead largely because of the perceived threat from the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc. As long as there was a threat, they needed the shield of American military protection, especially when we were bearing so much of the economic burden of paying for it.
But now that this threat is greatly reduced, many will feel that they do not need our protection anymore. As a result, they will be far less willing to follow our lead on matters of international importance to us. Nor do our allies need us economically the way they did in this '50s, when we had nine of the 10 largest banks in the world and two-thirds of the world's assets and markets. We began the '90s with none of the top 20 banks and an asset share less than half that of 40 years ago.
Does this mean that the United States, which has led the world in the 20th century, will be automatically reduced to a bit player on the world stage in the 21st? It could happen if we squander the opportunities we have in this decade to reorder our priorities. They must be seized quickly for they may not come again.
A different set of assets will be needed for a leadership role in the next century. Economic strength along with the moral force of America's political and social example as a model for others will be more important. While we must remain prepared to deal with a variety of military threats, overall military strength will be less important.
Those who doubt that economic competition is more and more replacing military competition should examine what is happening in the intelligence field. An increasing share of the espionage directed against the United States comes from spying by foreign governments against private American companies aimed at stealing commercial secrets to gain a national economic advantage.
There is no time to waste. We need to realign our foreign policy to advance our national economic interests. What should we do?
First, change the way we give foreign aid by giving more in the form of credits to be used solely to buy American products produced with American jobs. Recent polls show opposition to foreign aid running at 80 percent. They are a clear indication that the United States will not be able politically to reach out to newly emerging democracies unless we develop a way for American taxpayers to see a return for their tax dollars in terms of more jobs at home.
West Germany and Japan are following this policy. Over 90 percent of their recent aid to Poland and Hungary came in the form of restricted credits. From 1984 to 1987, aid in the form of such credits given by other nations increased from $4 billion to $12 billion. Our failure to have a `Buy American Plan' has cost Americans billions of dollars in lost exports in the past five years alone.
We must remember that burden sharing in helping other nations also means influence sharing and a diminished role for the United States economically and politically in the future. A Buy American Plan would enable us to expand our influence, help others and help ourselves at the same time.
Second, change the perspective of American embassies and missions to give greater emphasis to supporting our economic interests. We must recruit more people into the Foreign Service and intelligence agencies with economic skills and training. Right now, two-thirds of our embassies do not even have a commercial officer in the embassy to assist our businesses. When we do have a commercial officer, it is three times as likely that the official is a foreign national.
Embassies must be regarded as outposts to further our economic interests. We must put behind us the attitude that commercial sections of diplomatic missions are nuisances best relegated to basements or annexes. If we don't restore our economic influence we will soon be without political influence.
Third, dramatically increase student exchange programs for college undergraduates--especially with the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Such a program serves our interests in two ways. It forges bonds with the future generation of leaders of nations of growing importance to us. It also helps sensitize our students to the need to become more international in their training and outlook. Doubling the size of the Peace Corps would be another important step in the right direction.
We can't compete if we can't speak the world's languages and don't understand the world's cultures. Our educational system is woefully insular. One hundred percent of Japanese high school graduates have studied at least six years of English, while a tiny fraction of 1 percent of our students have studied Japanese. For every 30 students who come from abroad to study in the United States, only one American student ventures into another nation for study and living experiences. The nation of Malaysia, with a population of 14 million, sends more students to study abroad than does the United States.
Of course, a comprehensive plan to rebuild our economy should include many other initiatives. Repairing the entire education system, planning for the trasition from a military economy to a civilian economy and developing an international partnership to share the cost of improving the environment must all be part of the plan. It is essential to overhaul tax policy to match the tax incentives for saving and investment given by other nations so that our cost of capital can compete with theirs.
Above all, we must realize that we can't afford to continue to rely upon the same foreign policy tools put in place by the Truman administration 45 years ago. A new world calls for a new vision for our role in it. It has been said that those who mill around at the crossroads of history do so at their own peril. It is urgent that we heed that warning.
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