Stronger Global Relations Require Business Leadership
The private sector can repair and strengthen ties that public officials have allowed to fray.
As attention focuses on the UN General Assembly in New York, it’s important to remember that in a global economy, America’s relationship with the world does not depend solely on the state of politics along Pennsylvania Avenue. The ties that bind nations together today are deeply connected to trade and investment. Diplomatic relations are often grounded in economic relations, and while chief executives are not diplomats, they can be voices for cooperation on a wide range of issues in which the private sector can play a constructive role, from security to climate change. That dialogue cannot replace official diplomatic channels, but it can help affirm America’s commitment to our allies in concrete ways. Actions taken by private companies can often carry more weight than words spoken (or tweeted) by public officials.
Since January, the Trump administration has been signaling a retreat from the institutions that have played a central role in preserving world order and advancing economic progress over the past seven decades. The president’s failure to affirm Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty at last spring’s NATO summit, his decision to pull out of the UN’s Paris climate agreement, his proposed cuts to foreign aid, and his snail-paced filling of the highest-ranking State Department positions have left world leaders questioning America’s commitment to global engagement. They have also diminished the ability of the U.S. to exercise soft power.
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