Why economic freedom is more integral to foreign policy than ever

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In an April 27 speech, “The Return of Geopolitics,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss made a compelling case for a reboot of the free world’s approach to combating global aggressors, especially in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Truss stressed that we “have to be prepared for the long term.”

My vision is a world where free nations assert themselves and gain ascendancy; where freedom and democracy are strengthened by a network of economic and security partnerships; where the aggressors are contained and forced to take a better path.

Indeed, the vision that Truss has presented so succinctly is the fundamental foundation of the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom, which more than ever must be strengthened by greater cooperation on the security and economic fronts.

Truss further noted:

Free trade and free markets are the most powerful engine of human progress. We will always defend economic freedom. …. For too long, many have been naive about the geopolitical power of economics.

The aggressors treat it as a tool of foreign policy, using clientelism, investment and debt as a means of exerting control and coercion. They are ruthless in their approach.

Our response will not mirror their malicious tactics, but we will match them in our resolve.

It’s time to be wise. … Our new approach is based on three areas: military strength, economic security and deeper global alliances.

When it comes to strategic and effective “outreach,” economic engagement is a critical pillar of supporting and spreading economic freedom. The free world can better prevail by advancing rules-based economic cooperation and competition.

Economic freedom helps nations generate the wealth that enables them to defend themselves. Beyond that, it creates a community of nations with a common interest; namely, to protect their right to freely exchange goods, services and ideas.

This common bond promotes the cause of peace by creating strong, self-governing, sovereign and independent nations concerned with preserving the mutual freedoms that allow them to engage in commerce and prosper.

Much of this economic interaction will not come from traditional government foreign aid, but more effectively from private sector investment that promotes growth and respects the need for good governance.

Building the rule of law in the economic and trade sphere is therefore an essential part of building stronger economic engagement.

From a broader foreign policy perspective, like-minded American and British freedom partners should have an enduring faith in human rights, representative government and free enterprise.

Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the Chinese Communist Party and other aggressors don’t believe in any of these things. If the United States and its partners in the free world do not come together to protect these actions, our world will forever be in danger and subject to the erosion of the very system we fought for.

To preserve and strengthen the free world, a sound and effective foreign policy requires both strength and focus. Political leaders around the world should combine a call to restore strong national defenses and promote economic freedom abroad with a plan to make their national economies freer, more resilient, and healthier.

Creating greater economic opportunities at home and building a stronger defense must be seen as complementary and mutually reinforcing goals, not as competing and mutually exclusive goals.

History shows us that security, freedom and prosperity go hand in hand as the human spirit is nourished by virtuous freedom.

Calling for the need to create an “economic NATO”, Truss concluded his speech by emphasizing that together, “we have enormous strength”.

“Let’s use it to forge a better, safer world and a stronger global economy,” she said.

Now is the time for Washington and London, the two main engines of transatlantic stability and peace, to act on this resolution.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal

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