Members of the U.S. Congress today formed a new congressional caucus dedicated to enhancing international cooperation and engagement.  Russ Carnahan, a Democrat and Anh “Joseph” Cao, a Republican, launched the “American Engagement Caucus” at an event on Capital Hill this morning.  In an Op-ed for The Hill newspaper, the two listed their reasons for seeking to form a caucus “dedicated to the premise that American leadership and a willingness to partner with other countries are strategies that clearly serve our nation’s best interests.”

♣ Engagement complements a “Smart Power” strategy: To achieve our security objectives, America must project smart power—a blend of military strength and creative diplomacy. As Defense Secretary Robert Gates observed, “One of the most important lessons of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is that military success is not sufficient to win: economic development, institution-building and the rule of law. . . along with security, are essential ingredients for success.”

♣ Global partnerships are essential to fighting the war on terror: Given existing threats from terrorist groups and unstable foreign regimes with nuclear capabilities, cooperating with countries around the world is critical. Other nations can help shoulder the burden of counterterrorism and intelligence efforts, especially in regions where the U.S. may lack access and leverage.

♣ International engagement expands trade opportunities: By creating new international markets, we can capitalize on the power of American innovation to spur economic development and job growth here at home.

♣ America’s economic and environmental interests are irrefutably connected: We must build mechanisms to ensure that the world’s major economies reduce their climate-damaging emissions. Clean energy strategies will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, revitalize the American heartland through clean energy production and give developing countries a chance to meet their own energy needs and alleviate poverty.

♣ A strong relationship between the United States and the United Nations is key to rebuilding alliances: U.S. standing in the world is in large ways shaped by and representative of our engagement with the UN. It is in America’s economic, environmental, and security interest to work with the UN to solve global challenges.

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