In a speech titled “The Return of Geopolitics” on April 27, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss made a compelling case for a rethinking of the free world’s approach to dealing with global aggressors, particularly in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Truss stated that we must “be prepared for the long haul.”
My vision is of a world in which free nations are assertive and ascendant; where freedom and democracy are strengthened through a network of economic and security alliances; and where aggressors are contained and forced to choose a better path. Indeed, Truss’ vision is the fundamental foundation of the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom, which must be strengthened more than ever through greater cooperation on security and economic fronts.
The most powerful engine of human progress is free trade and free markets. We will always advocate for economic liberty. …. Many people have been overly optimistic about the geopolitical power of economics for far too long.
Aggressors use it as a tool of foreign policy, wielding control and coercion through patronage, investment, and debt. They take a ruthless approach.
Our response will not mirror their nefarious tactics, but we will match them in tenacity.
It’s past time to grow up. Our new strategy is built on three pillars: military strength, economic security, and stronger global alliances.
Economic engagement is a critical pillar of supporting and spreading economic freedom in terms of strategically and effectively “waking up.” The free world will fare best by promoting rules-based economic cooperation and competition.
Economic freedom enables nations to generate the wealth necessary to defend themselves. Furthermore, it establishes a community of nations with a common interest, namely the protection of their right to freely exchange goods, services, and ideas.
This shared bond advances the cause of peace by fostering strong, self-sufficient, sovereign, and independent nations committed to preserving the mutual freedoms that allow them to engage in commercial activity and prosper. Much of that economic interaction will come from private-sector investment that promotes growth while also respecting the need for good governance, rather than traditional government foreign assistance.
Building the rule of law in the economic and trade spheres is thus a critical component of enhancing economic engagement.
From a broader foreign policy standpoint, America’s and Britain’s like-minded and willing partners in liberty should have unwavering faith in human rights, representative governments, and free enterprise.
Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the Chinese Communist Party, and other aggressors do not believe in any of these things. If the United States and its free-world partners do not band together to protect those equities, our world will always be in jeopardy and vulnerable to the deterioration of the very system for which we have fought.
A sound, effective foreign policy necessitates both strength and focus in order to preserve and enhance the free world. Policymakers all over the world should link a call to rebuild a strong national defense and promote economic freedom abroad with a plan to make their domestic economies more free, resilient, and healthy.
Increasing domestic economic opportunity and fortifying defenses must be viewed as complementary, mutually reinforcing goals, rather than competing, mutually exclusive objectives.
History demonstrates that security, liberty, and prosperity go hand in hand because the human spirit thrives on virtuous liberty.
Truss concluded her speech by emphasizing the need for a “economic NATO,” stating that “we have tremendous strength” when we work together.
“Let us use it to build a better, safer world and a stronger global economy,” she said.
Now is the time for Washington and London, the two primary drivers of transatlantic stability and peace, to follow through on their commitment.