Panel: Oklahoma can play a role on world stage


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

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

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

USGLC, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit, is a coalition of business leaders, national security and foreign policy experts, and faith-based community leaders who advocate for increased funding for the International Affairs Budget, currently just 1% of the federal budget. Members of the organization highlight diplomacy, economic development and humanitarian aid as a more effective – and cost-effective – means of ensuring national security.

Attendance at Thursday’s event was made up of state and local leaders in Oklahoma there at the invitation of USGLC. The event featured Bice, who serves on the House Committee on Armed Services and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology in Congress, speaking on “how leading globally matters locally.”

“Sheer power isn’t enough to keep this country safe,” Bice said. “It is important to continue to invest in development and diplomacy, which is actually much more cost-effective than military engagement.”

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

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

“If we are allowed to finish liquid natural gas terminals, we can export LNG to countries that are currently shortage facings due to Russia’s decision to halt LNG exports to European countries, including Germany,” Bice said.

Countries suffering economically and from a shortage of food tend to become politically unstable, Beudreault said. Providing humanitarian aid helps more powerful countries like the US with important allies and trading partners into the future, Bice said.

If the US doesn’t do it, countries like China are more than willing to fill the void, giving China the opportunity to shape policies and form alliances in those countries, Bice said. China provided vaccines for some developing nations and proceeded to “set up shop” there, helping shape policy there, Bice said.

“The US cannot pursue a policy of isolationism,” Bice said. “We must keep our presence known on the world stage. Countries look to the US as a country that protects democracy and freedom abroad.”

Bice pointed to the results of the US providing aid to South Korea following the military conflict there. Today, South Korea is our sixth-largest trading partner and a critically, conducting $40 billion in trade annually – more than the US invested in the country over five decades, Bice said.

Providing electricity to developing nations has spurred jobs, economic development and countless other benefits, Beudreault said. On the other hand, issues like food insecurity can result in a breakdown in government that opens the door for oppressive regimes to take hold.

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has also prevented Ukraine – dubbed the “bread basket of Europe,” Bice said – from exporting its grains around the world, contributing to food insecurity in several areas of the world, particularly developing countries that rely on food imports.

Oklahoma’s agricultural industry can again play a significant role in meeting the shortage with increased production, Bice said. Ukraine also supplied much of the world’s fertilizer, leaving farmers and ranchers searching for new suppliers.

Oklahoma exported $6.2 billion in goods to foreign 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 small and medium-sized business in Oklahoma, Bice said.

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

“We risk capital, we risk things that we should not expect the taxpayer to risk, the public sector to risk,” Pauley said. That investment produces the technology used by the military as well as the private sector.

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

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





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