The Making of United States International Economic Policy: Principles, Problems, and Proposals for Reform

By Stephen D. Cohen | Go to book overview

2The Importance of International Economic Policy

The supreme difficulty of our generation . . . is that our achievements on the economic plane of life have outstripped our progress on the political plane to the extent that our economics and our politics are perpetually falling out of gear with one another. On the economic plane, the world has been organized into a single all-embracing unit of activity. On the political plane, [nation-states] have been growing . . . more numerous and the national consciousness more acute. The tension between these two antithetical tendencies has been producing a series of jolts . . . in the social life of humanity.

--The Economist, 1930

In this post Cold War world, our national security rests more than ever on our economic strength. Our foreign and commercial policies must be integrated if we are to accomplish our objective at home and abroad.

-- William Clinton, 1996

International economic policy is a combination of nothing less than the two highest-priority goals of the modern nation-state: national security and economic prosperity. It has grown steadily in importance because in the largest sense, international economic policy has the daunting task of trying to manage international economic interdependence--the concentric circle linking two global mega-trends of the second half of the twentieth century and beyond:
The increased intrusion of governments in their domestic economies because electorates hold them responsible for good economic performance; and
The increased intrusion of economic issues in the day-to-day conduct of international relations.

-25-

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