US pushing 'jobs diplomacy' after costly wars: Clinton
SINGAPORE, Singapore - US foreign policy is being reoriented to promote American economic interests after Washington was tied down by two wars in the past decade, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Saturday, November 17.
"We are shaping our foreign policy to account for both the economics of power and the power of economics," she said in a speech in Singapore ahead of a an Asia-Pacific summit in Cambodia to be attended by President Barack Obama.
After a decade attending to "a war in Iraq that is now over and a war in Afghanistan that is winding down," Clinton said the "first and most fundamental task is to update our foreign policy and its priorities for a changing world".
"Our global leadership depends on our economic strength," she said, adding that the new emphasis on "jobs diplomacy" would boost US exports, open up new markets and level the playing field for American firms to compete overseas.
More than 270 US embassies and consulates across the world will operate as advocates for US companies and help achieve the newly reelected Obama's goal of doubling US exports in five years, Clinton said.
Washington is seeking "a rebalancing of the global economy so Americans export more, Asians import more and we avoid financial crises and build middle classes".
Clinton spelled out key initiatives in various regions, including the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership being discussed with Asian countries, efforts to increase the US market presence in Africa and trade pacts with Latin American nations.
"Responding to threats will of course always be central to our foreign policy, but it cannot be our foreign policy. America has to seize opportunities that will shore up our strength for years to come," she added.
Even non-military powers are gaining clout "less because of their size of their armies than because of the growth of their GDP".
"For the first time in modern history, nations are becoming major global powers without also becoming global military powers," she added, citing the example of Singapore, a city-state whose two-way trade with the United States now exceeds $50 billion.
Clinton sought to allay Asian concerns over a looming "fiscal cliff" of tax hikes and budgets cuts pitting Obama against Republican opponents in Congress, raising fears of a new US recession if they fail to strike a compromise.
"Let's be clear: the full faith and credit of the United States should never be in question. Today, as Washington gears up for another round of budget negotiations, I'm again hearing concerns about the global implications of America's economic choices," she said.
"Now, I'm out of politics, but let me assure you that for all the differences between the political parties in my country, we are united in our commitment to protect American leadership and bolster our national security. Reaching a meaningful budget deal is critical to both."
Clinton also cited the importance of economic tools in promoting US diplomatic interests in countries like Myanmar, which Obama is visiting on Monday, to encourage further reforms.
"The costs of economic sanctions and the benefits of rejoining the global economy helped spur the government to begin opening up," Clinton said.
On Iran, whose nuclear research programme is suspected of being a cover to build an atomic bomb, Clinton said a broad international coalition was producing results, including an estimated three billion dollars a month in economic losses for the regime in Tehran. - Agence France-Presse