Panel: Oklahoma can play a role on the world stage

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U.S. Representative Stephanie Bice, Boeing’s Todd Pauley, and retired Lt. Gen. Brian Beaudreault, USMC, speak at the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition event at the Skirvin Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City Thursday. (Photo by Janice Francis-Smith)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma is in a strong position to help ease global pressures that are driving up inflation and contributing to political unrest, according to a panel hosted Thursday by the US Global Leadership Coalition.

U.S. Representative Stephanie Bice, representing Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District; Todd Pauley of Boeing Co.; and retired Lt. Gen. Brian Beaudreault, USMC, speaking at the Skirvin Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City, discussed how the industries that fuel Oklahoma’s economy – oil and gas, agriculture and aeronautics – can be leveraged to enhance national security.

The USGLC, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, is a coalition of business leaders, national security and foreign policy experts, and faith-based community leaders advocating for increased budget funding for governments. international affairs, which currently represents only 1% of the federal budget. Members of the organization stress that diplomacy, economic development and humanitarian aid are more effective – and cost-effective – means of ensuring national security.

Attendance at Thursday’s event consisted of Oklahoma state and local leaders there at the invitation of the USGLC. The event featured Bice, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Science, Space and Technology Committee in Congress, speaking on “how global leadership matters at local level”.

“Pure power is not enough to keep this country safe,” Bice said. “It is important to continue to invest in development and diplomacy, which is in fact much more profitable than military engagement.”

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine triggered an energy crisis in Europe, which had come to depend on Russia for much of its natural gas. As the nation’s third-largest natural gas producer, Oklahoma can play a role in lowering global energy costs, Bice said.

“In Europe, countries like Germany are being forced to rely on coal for electricity again,” Bice said. “I believe Oklahoma could play a key role in easing the domestic and international energy crisis…

“If we are allowed to complete the liquid natural gas 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,” Bice said.

Countries that suffer economically and from food shortages tend to become politically unstable, Beudreault said. Providing humanitarian aid helps more powerful countries like the United States with important allies and trading partners in the future, Bice said.

If the United States does not, countries like China are more than willing to fill the void, giving China room to shape policies and form alliances in those countries, Bice said. China has provided vaccines to some developing countries and done “installation” there, helping to shape policy there, Bice said.

“The United States cannot pursue a policy of isolationism,” Bice said. “We need to make our presence known on the world stage. Countries view the United States as a country that protects democracy and freedom abroad.

Bice highlighted the results of US aid to South Korea following the military conflict in that country. Today, South Korea is our sixth-largest trading partner and a key ally, achieving $40 billion in trade annually, more than U.S. investment in the country over five decades, Bice said.

Providing electricity to developing countries has boosted jobs, economic development and countless other benefits, Beudreault said. On the other hand, issues like food insecurity can lead to government collapse which opens the door to the installation of oppressive regimes.

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

Oklahoma’s agriculture industry can once again play an important role in addressing the shortage with increased production, Bice said. Ukraine has also provided much of the world’s fertilizer, leaving farmers and herders looking for new suppliers.

Oklahoma exported $6.2 billion worth of goods to overseas markets in 2021, Bice noted. 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 Oklahoma small and medium-sized businesses, Bice said.

Businesses work hand-in-hand with the public sector to advance both national security and the strength of Oklahoma’s businesses, Pauley said.

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

Having to shut down Boeing’s operations in Russia recently has been “bad for business,” Pauley said, noting that diplomacy and building partnerships on the global stage help create a stable environment for trade.

Oklahoma is also somewhat of an education exporter, panelists said. More than 7,000 international students at Oklahoma colleges and universities contribute $222 million to the state’s economy, Bice said.

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