Defense, Diplomacy, and Development. These are the “three D’s” that the United States employs while dealing with other countries. While each brings a number of strengths and weaknesses, one must be the central focus of American foreign policy. This approach is development. By improving standards of living abroad, Americans not only improve the lives of others, but they improve their own lives. Through actions that work to increase development in foreign nations, the United States improves its national security, enhances its economy, improves the environment, and fulfills an ethical responsibility in working to eliminate poverty completely.

By ending global poverty, the United States enhances its national security. According to national security strategy documents employed by both the Bush and Obama administrations, the largest threats that the United States will be facing over the next two decades come “less from conquering states than from failing ones.” It is the failing states that likely lack the financial capital to construct sovereign governments or build strong economies. It is also within these fragile states that corruption and extremism can take hold due to a lack of effective governance. If left unchecked, these states can develop into a threat for other nations. By developing failed states into nations that can effectively rule over their own population and help foster construction of functional economies, the United States reduces the likelihood of having to deal with a conflict that emerged from a failed state’s internal disorder.

In addition to improving national security, ending global poverty improves the American economy. The United States has $500 billion invested in developing countries. Working to increase economic output in developing nations allows for higher returns on those investments while improving the standard of living for those who reside within those nations. As more people in the world earn higher wages, they can then afford to buy more expensive American goods. Ending global poverty, therefore, not only improves the lives of those abroad, but it also improves the lives of Americans.

Yet another advantage of ending global poverty is reducing the toll that humans put on the environment. In many impoverished areas, access to clean and green technologies is not economically feasible. Ending global poverty allows for improved access to these ecologically-friendly technologies. By enhancing standards of living, those living in developing nations are able to use cleaner technologies to fulfill their energy needs. These cleaner technologies can help reduce carbon emissions from developing nations, which improves the lives of everyone worldwide.

Finally, ending global poverty is an ethical action that the United States has the capability to accomplish. The United Nations has stated that extreme poverty can be eliminated completely by the year 2030. The United States, as the largest economic power in the world, can help contribute to this cause by aiding in the development process that needs to take place. By continuing to provide funds to developing nations, and by supporting economic growth in these areas, the United States can help make poverty history.

Ultimately, the goal of ending global poverty should be the primary focus of United States foreign policy. Working to end global poverty improves American national security by creating stability in foreign nations. It also improves the American economy by increasing the purchasing power of people abroad, providing them with the capability purchase American goods. Additionally, improved purchasing power provides people in foreign countries with improved access to cleaner technologies, which will help reduce the global impact of humans on the environment. And finally, working to end global poverty is an ethical action that the United States has the power to carry out. Improving standards of living abroad not only benefits Americans, but it benefits the entire globe. By working to end global hunger, the United States will help make poverty a thing of the past.

Jordan Kline

Sources: Wilson Center, US News and World Report, The Guardian
Photo: Foreign Policy