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The Aspen Strategy Group hosted a discussion on Domestic and International (Dis)Order: A Strategic Response, the latest edition of the Aspen Strategy Group’s series of annual publications that address the most pressing foreign policy challenges facing the United States. This volume reflects the discussions that occurred during the 2020 Aspen Strategy Group Summer Workshop, a resolutely nonpartisan meeting of experts from the fields of government, academia, journalism, and business. Markle CEO and President Zoë Baird contributed the chapter below to this book. Panelists include: Zoë Baird, Nicholas Burns, Diana Farrell, Naima Green-Riley, Anja Manuel, Joseph Nye, and Tom Pritzker and Torrey Taussig.
Equitable Economic Recovery Is a National Security Imperative
by Zoë Baird
A strong and inclusive economy is essential for American national security and global leadership. As the nation seeks to return from a historic economic crisis, the national security community should support an equitable recovery that helps every worker adapt to the seismic shifts underway in our economy.
Broadly shared economic prosperity is a bedrock of America’s economic and political strength—both domestically and in the international arena. A strong and equitable recovery from the economic crisis created by COVID-19 would be a powerful testament to the resilience of the American system and its ability to create prosperity at a time of seismic change and persistent global crisis. Such a recovery could attack the profound economic inequities that have developed over the past several decades. Without bold action to help all workers access good jobs as the economy returns, the United States risks undermining the legitimacy of its institutions and its international standing. The outcome will be a key determinant of America’s national security for years to come.
An equitable recovery requires a national commitment to help all workers obtain good jobs—particularly the two- thirds of adults without a bachelor’s degree and people of color who have been most affected by the crisis and were denied opportunity before it. As the nation engages in a historic debate about how to accelerate economic recovery, ambitious public investment is necessary to put Americans back to work with dignity and opportunity. We need an intentional effort to make sure that the jobs that come back are good jobs with decent wages, benefits, and mobility and to empower workers to access these opportunities in a profoundly changed labor market.
To achieve these goals, American policy makers need to establish job growth strategies that address urgent public needs through major programs in green energy, infrastructure, and health. Alongside these job growth strategies, we need to recognize and develop the talents of workers by creating an adult learning system that meets workers’ needs and develops skills for the digital economy. The national security community must lend its support to this cause. And as it does so, it can bring home the lessons from the advances made in these areas in other countries, particularly our European allies, and consider this a realm of international cooperation and international engagement.