Courson, Smith: Foreign investment staves off war, hot or cold

May 11, 2014 

Global challenges have refocused the nation’s attention on why it’s important for the United States to be an active economic participant on the global stage.

As men who have served our country in uniform, we know the challenges America faces today are best met with a strong national security and foreign policy. During the Cold War, it was easy to tell who our enemies were, but foes such as terrorists and poverty require us to use all of the tools available to prevent conflict in a very dangerous world.

It’s easy to miss the connection between U.S. foreign assistance and our national security, but it’s actually one of the most powerful tools we have to stop the spread of terrorism and bring stability to countries in our national interests.

Fathers around the world want the same things we want for our own families — security, a better life for our children and opportunity.

By working to alleviate extreme poverty through opportunity, we reduce the need for military action and costly wars. As former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates often has said, “Development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.”

U.S. international affairs programs account for 1 percent of the federal budget — not the 20 percent to 30 percent most Americans think it is. And the return on investment we receive in South Carolina is a tremendous impact in how we live our everyday lives.

Right now 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States, and half of our exports go to the developing world. There’s a world of consumers hungry for S.C. products, from peaches in the Midlands to BMWs in the Upstate.

More than one in five jobs in South Carolina depend on trade, and our coastal location helps our businesses sell more goods and services overseas.

As state legislators representing different parties, at times we disagree. However, we are proud that we can unify around a common public policy that creates jobs and keeps our communities safe. But we have to keep moving forward.

While budgets are tight, that 1 percent of the federal budget we invest in our development and diplomacy programs ensures America and South Carolina remain leaders in the world.

Our congressional leaders in Washington have a lot of tough choices to make when it comes to our taxpayer dollars, but investments in international affairs programs advance America’s national security and create more jobs here at home. To not provide adequate resources jeopardizes South Carolina’s place in the global economy.

Sen. John Courson

Rep. James Smith

Columbia

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