Billboard: Oklahoma could play a role on the world stage | journal record

U.S. Representatives Stephanie Pace, Todd Polley of The Boeing Company and retired Lieutenant General Brian Boderault speak at the U.S. Global Leadership Alliance event at the Skirvin Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City on Thursday. (Photo by Janis Francis Smith)

Oklahoma City – Oklahoma is in a strong position to help mitigate global pressures that drive up inflation and contribute to political turmoil, according to a panel hosted by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition on Thursday.

U.S. Representative Stephanie Pace, representing Oklahoma’s Fifth District in Congress; Todd Polley of The Boeing Company; Retired Lt. Gen. Brian Bodrollt, of the USMC, speaking at the Skirvin Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City, discussed how industries that support Oklahoma’s economy — oil and gas, agriculture and aviation — can be leveraged to enhance national security.

USGLC, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization, is a coalition of business leaders, national security experts, foreign policy, and religious community leaders advocating for increased funding for the international affairs budget, which currently stands at just 1% of the federal budget. Members of the organization highlight diplomacy, economic development, and humanitarian aid as a more effective – and cost-effective – way to ensure national security.

Attendees at Thursday’s event consisted of state and local leaders in Oklahoma there at the invitation of the USGLC. Pace, who serves on the House Committee on Armed Services and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology in Congress, spoke about “how important global leadership is locally.”

“Unrelenting force is not enough to keep this country safe,” Pace said. “It is important to continue investing in development and diplomacy, which is actually more cost-effective than military engagement.”

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has triggered an energy crisis in Europe, which has become dependent on Russia for much of its natural gas. As the nation’s third-largest natural gas producer, Pace said, Oklahoma could play a role in helping lower global energy costs.

“In Europe, countries like Germany are having to rely again on coal for power generation,” Pace said. “I think Oklahoma can play a major role in mitigating the domestic and international energy crisis…

“If we are allowed to finish LNG terminals, we can export LNG to countries that are currently facing shortages due to Russia’s decision to stop LNG exports to European countries, including Germany,” Pace said.

And countries that struggle economically and with food shortages tend to become politically unstable, Beaudault said. Pace said providing humanitarian aid helps more powerful countries like the United States with important allies and trading partners in the future.

If the United States does not, Pace said, countries like China are more willing to fill the void, giving China the opportunity to shape policies and form alliances in those countries. Pace said China has provided vaccines to some developing countries and has proceeded to “set up a shop” there, to help shape policy there.

“The United States cannot pursue a policy of isolationism,” Pace said. We must keep our presence known on the world stage. Countries view the United States as a nation that protects democracy and freedom abroad.”

Pace noted the results of US aid to South Korea in the wake of the military conflict there. Today, South Korea is our sixth largest trading partner and an important ally, conducting $40 billion in trade annually — more than the United States has invested in the country over five decades, Pace said.

Providing electricity to developing countries stimulated jobs, economic development, and countless other benefits, Beaudault said. On the other hand, issues such as food insecurity can lead to the collapse of the government opening the door for repressive regimes to take hold.

Pace said Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has prevented Ukraine – dubbed the “breadbasket of Europe” – from exporting its grain around the world, contributing to food insecurity in many regions of the world, especially developing countries that depend on food imports.

Pace said Oklahoma’s agricultural industry could once again play an important role in addressing shortages while increasing production. Ukraine also provided a lot of fertilizers to the world, leaving farmers and ranchers to search for new suppliers.

Pace noted that Oklahoma exported $6.2 billion in goods to overseas markets in 2021. International trade supported 436,000 jobs in Oklahoma in 2019, representing 18.7% of all jobs in the state. Nearly 85% of those goods were produced by small and medium-sized businesses in Oklahoma, Pace said.

Pauli said the companies work in tandem with the public sector to enhance the national security and strength of Oklahoma businesses.

“We’re risking capital, risking things we shouldn’t expect the taxpayer to risk, and the public sector to risk,” Pauli said. This investment results in technology used by the military as well as the private sector.

Pauli said having to close Boeing’s operations in Russia recently was “bad for business,” noting that diplomacy and partnership building on the global stage are helping create a stable environment for trade.

Committee members said Oklahoma is also a source of education. Pace said more than 7,000 international students at Oklahoma’s colleges and universities contribute $222 million to the state’s economy.

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