The U.S. Government's Approach to Economic Security: Focus on Campaign Activities

By Katsos, George E. | Joint Force Quarterly, July 2018 | Go to article overview

The U.S. Government's Approach to Economic Security: Focus on Campaign Activities


Katsos, George E., Joint Force Quarterly


Threats to economic security and their potential effects often disrupt or fracture societies. For nations, economic security perpetuates stability and underpins national institutions that provide and maintain it. For populations, economic security involves consistent access to employment opportunities, personal assets, and assured income. While human ambitions can inflame pressures on economic security, oppressive government practices can lead to job loss, unemployment, persistent poverty, and lack of access to income. Moreover, living conditions worsened by instability and political uncertainty can elevate fears and hopelessness. These circumstances can engender civilians to consider desperate measures, which frequently include uprooting from their established communities in search of a better standard of living. As these issues overwhelm institutional capacities and disturb regional norms, the demand for intervention from security provider nations such as the United States is expected to not only continue but also increase.

To compare present day distinctions of economic security, descriptions and definitions are presented from both U.S.

U.S. Coastguardsman offloads cocaine at Coast Guard Station Miami Beach, Florida, September 18, 2014 (U.S. Coast Guard/Jon-Paul Rios) Government (USG) and non-USG organizational documentation. In 2017, the National Security Strategy described economic security as an element of national security and stated that economic vitality, growth, and prosperity are absolutely necessary for American power and influence. (1) The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) economic security perspective is based on the increasing dependence on the flow of goods, services, people, capital, information, and technology across borders. (2) The Department of Defense (DOD) defines economic security as the ability to protect or advance U.S. economic interests, shape international interests to American liking, and possess material resources to fend off non-economic challenges. (3) The United Nations (UN) focuses on an assured basic income, while the International Committee of the Red Cross defines economic security as the ability of individuals, households, or communities to cover their essential needs sustainably and with dignity. (4) For purposes here, economic security includes the aforementioned but focuses on USG commitments and stabilization efforts. This analysis is based on research and informal discussions and is categorized into the following sections: legislation, international engagement, executive branch strategy and activities, and military campaign activities in support of economic security efforts.

Legislation

Per the Constitution, Congress has authority over Federal financial and budgetary matters. Its exclusive power to appropriate funds and regulate commerce allows it to pass revenue and related crisis-mitigation legislation when the country is under considerable economic pressure. The Constitution also provided Congress with authority to establish a monetary system of paper currency that at the time was based on precious metals (gold and silver). Today, the U.S. Government practices stabilization abroad in many areas and protects American citizens from economic shocks stateside. From American independence to World War I, Congress generated revenue through taxes, tariffs, and customs duties. (5) Between world wars, Congress created the Federal Reserve System to supervise, regulate, maintain, and stabilize the financial system; produced reforms to recover from an economic depression; and enacted trade restrictions on Japan in response to its aggressive expansion in Asia. Postwar, Congress established an economic advisory council, foreign assistance and financial assistance organizations (for example, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and Overseas Private Investment Corporation), and a special trade representative to conduct U.S. trade negotiations. (6) Between 1963 and 1971, the United States lifted itself off the gold standard and from silver certificates. …

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