If the first decade of the 21st century taught us anything about national security, it’s that we require more than a strong military to meet our global challenges—diplomacy and development are essential elements of national power.
After traveling nearly 300,000 miles to more than 35 countries around the world as Secretary of State, I am more convinced than ever that America must continue to play a leadership role in shaping a more secure and prosperous future.
But in times of shrinking budgets, we need to make certain that we’re not penny wise and pound foolish when it comes to supporting America’s vital overseas interests. Our investments in diplomacy and development will make the world safer, and they will make us safer.
Foreign assistance is not a favor – it’s an investment in our shared security and prosperity. It helps nations realize their potential, develop their ability to govern, fight corruption, advance the rule of law, and become our economic partners.
Don’t take my word for it. Just look at the facts: 11 of our top 15 trading partners used to be the beneficiaries of U.S. foreign assistance. And since 95 percent of the world’s customers live outside of the United States, we can’t afford to hamstring our ability to compete in these increasingly growing markets.
Our businesses understand what’s at stake. It’s simple: Developing economies are the epicenters of growth. They are open for business, and as American companies compete abroad and sell their goods in new markets, we create jobs for Americans right here at home.
So if we want a new list of assistance graduates, countries that used to take our aid but now buy our exports, we can’t afford to pull back. This is a time to step forward, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation is leading the charge.
MCC is a model of innovation in development. It’s about working hand in glove with countries to address their barriers to economic growth. It’s about good governance and accountability. It’s about greater cooperation with the private sector. It’s about demanding results and testing our assumptions against the data. Above all, it’s about understanding what works in development and why so that we get the best possible return from every dollar invested.
Energetic global leadership is a strategic imperative for America. It’s in our DNA. That’s who we are, and that’s why I am confident that, with ongoing support from Congress and the American people, MCC will continue to help shape global economic prosperity and opportunity for generations to come.