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Global Leadership Module Backlines

They Say: “Education Not Key To Competitiveness”

Educational inequality undermines competitiveness.


Robinson 15 — Kimberly Jenkins Robinson, Professor of Law and Austin Owen Research Scholar at the University of Richmond School of Law, Researcher at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School, former Associate Professor at the Emory School of Law, former General Attorney in the Office of the General Counsel at the United States Department of Education, holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, 2015 (“How Reconstructing Education Federalism Could Fulfill the Aims of Rodriguez,” The Enduring Legacy of Rodriguez: Creating New Pathways to Equal Educational Opportunity, Edited by Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. and Kimberly Jenkins Robinson, Published by Harvard Education Press, ISBN 9781612508313, p. 213-214)

The harms from persistent and pervasive disparities in educational opportunity are not limited to schoolchildren, their families, and their communities. These disparities also harm nationwide interests in a strong economy and a just society. The United States needs to maintain international academic competitiveness to attract businesses and prevent the loss of jobs to other, more educated nations. Research reveals that the long-term vigor of the U.S. economy will depend on the advanced skills that are typically provided in higher education and that are needed for upper-level technical occupations.

Yet, international assessments reveal that the performance of U.S. students is often average or below average when compared with students from other countries, which will make it difficult for American students to compete successfully.42 Eric A. Hanushek, Paul E. Peterson, and Ludger Woessman summarize the lackluster performance of U.S. students on international assessments, noting that “the evidence of international comparison is now clear. American students lag badly and pervasively. Our students lag behind students not just in Asia, but in Europe and other parts of the Americas. It is not just disadvantaged students or a group of weak students who lag, but also American students from advantaged backgrounds. Americans are badly underrepresented among the world's highest achievers.”43

Although some scholars challenge such conclusions from international assessments as overblown and simplistic, others conclude that these less-than-stellar outcomes indicate that the U.S. education system is failing to prepare many of its students to compete successfully for jobs with other students [end page 213] from around the world.44 The nation also has a strong interest in ensuring that entire segments of the public are not denied the American Dream due to their family income and racial/ethnic background.

The plan is crucial to competitiveness — it bolsters short- and long-term growth.


Epstein 11 — Diana Epstein, Senior Education Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress, holds a Ph.D. in Policy Analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School and a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of California-Berkeley, 2011 (“Investing in Education Powers U.S. Competitiveness,” Center for American Progress, September 6th, Available Online at https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education/reports/2011/09/06/10376/investing-in-education-powers-u-s-competitiveness/, Accessed 07-14-2017)

Global competitiveness



Too few of our students are performing at the levels needed to compete for the high-skill jobs that allow us to maintain global competitiveness. Only 33 percent of fourth graders and 33 percent of eighth graders scored at or above proficient in reading on the 2009 NAEP exam; only 39 percent of fourth graders and 34 percent of eighth graders were at or above proficient in mathematics. Furthermore, achievement tests demonstrate that international competitors are performing better than U.S. students, and in a globalized economy we cannot afford to fall any further behind.

Research shows that investment in education is essential for our country’s short- and long-term economic growth. A recent report by McKinsey & Company estimates that bringing lower-performing states up to the national average between 1983 and 1998 would have added $425 billion to $710 billion to our 2008 GDP. Closing the racial/ethnic and income achievement gaps between 1983 and 1998 would have also added to our GDP. The estimates are that closing the racial/ethnic gap would have added $310 billion to $525 billion by 2008 and closing the income achievement gap would have added between $400 billion and $670 billion to our 2008 GDP. Continuing to tolerate these achievement gaps is tantamount to accepting a chronic, self-induced economic recession.

Closing the international achievement gap between 1983 and 1998 would have added $1.3 trillion to $2.3 trillion to our 2008 GDP. Another study found that increasing students’ scores on the PISA test by 25 points—one-fourth of a standard deviation—between 2010 and 2030 would result in economic gains for OECD countries. U.S. students currently rank below the students from many OECD countries on this test, but if the United States and other countries improved by this amount, the payoff to the United States would be more than $40 trillion by 2090.

They Say: “No Hegemony Impact”

Retrenchment risks great power war — history proves.


Kagan 17 — Robert Kagan, Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution, Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, holds a Ph.D. in American History from American University, 2017 (“Backing Into World War III,” Foreign Affairs, February 6th, Available Online at http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/02/06/backing-into-world-war-iii-russia-china-trump-obama/, Accessed 07-14-2017)

For the United States to accept a return to spheres of influence would not calm the international waters. It would merely return the world to the condition it was in at the end of the 19th century, with competing great powers clashing over inevitably intersecting and overlapping spheres. These unsettled, disordered conditions produced the fertile ground for the two destructive world wars of the first half of the 20th century. The collapse of the British-dominated world order on the oceans, the disruption of the uneasy balance of power on the European continent as a powerful unified Germany took shape, and the rise of Japanese power in East Asia all contributed to a highly competitive international environment in which dissatisfied great powers took the opportunity to pursue their ambitions in the absence of any power or group of powers to unite in checking them. The result was an unprecedented global calamity and death on an epic scale. It has been the great accomplishment of the U.S.-led world order in the 70 years since the end of World War II that this kind of competition has been held in check and great power conflicts have been avoided. It will be more than a shame if Americans were to destroy what they created — and not because it was no longer possible to sustain but simply because they chose to stop trying.

U.S. leadership creates a political framework for global cooperation — addresses multiple transnational threats.


BIW 13 — Stephen G. Brooks, Associate Professor in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College, former Fellow in the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University, G. John Ikenberry, Albert G. Milbank Professor of Politics and International Affairs in the Department of Politics and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and Co-Director of the Center for International Security Studies at Princeton University, Global Eminence Scholar at Kyung Hee University (South Korea), former Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, former Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, former Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Chicago, and William C. Wohlforth, Daniel Webster Professor in the Department of Government at Dartmouth College, holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University, 2013 (“Lean Forward: In Defense of American Engagement,” Foreign Affairs, Volume 92, Issue 1, January/February, Available Online to Subscribing Institutions via Academic Search Elite)

Creating Cooperation



What goes for the global economy goes for other forms of international cooperation. Here, too, American leadership benefits many countries but disproportionately helps the United States. In order to counter transnational threats, such as terrorism, piracy, organized crime, climate change, and pandemics, states have to work together and take collective action. But cooperation does not come about effortlessly, especially when national interests diverge. The United States' military efforts to promote stability and its broader leadership make it easier for Washington to launch joint initiatives and shape them in ways that reflect U.S. interests. After all, cooperation is hard to come by in regions where chaos reigns, and it flourishes where leaders can anticipate lasting stability.

U.S. alliances are about security first, but they also provide the political framework and channels of communication for cooperation on nonmilitary issues. NATO, for example, has spawned new institutions, such as the Atlantic Council, a think tank, that make it easier for Americans and Europeans to talk to one another and do business. Likewise, consultations with allies in East Asia spill over into other policy issues; for example, when American diplomats travel to Seoul to manage the military alliance, they also end up discussing the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Thanks to conduits such as this, the United States can use bargaining chips in one issue area to make progress in others.

The benefits of these communication channels are especially pronounced when it comes to fighting the kinds of threats that require new forms of cooperation, such as terrorism and pandemics. With its alliance system in place, the United States is in a stronger position than it would otherwise be to advance cooperation and share burdens. For example, the intelligence-sharing network within NATO, which was originally designed to gather information on the Soviet Union, has been adapted to deal with terrorism. Similarly, after a tsunami in the Indian Ocean devastated surrounding countries in 2004, Washington had a much easier time orchestrating a fast humanitarian response with Australia, India, and Japan, since their militaries were already comfortable working with one another. The operation did wonders for the United States' image in the region.

The United States' global role also has the more direct effect of facilitating the bargains among governments that get cooperation going in the first place. As the scholar Joseph Nye has written, "The American military role in deterring threats to allies, or of assuring access to a crucial resource such as oil in the Persian Gulf, means that the provision of protective force can be used in bargaining situations. Sometimes the linkage may be direct; more often it is a factor not mentioned openly but present in the back of statesmen's minds."

They Say: “No Competitiveness Impact”

Krugman is wrong — competitiveness is real and necessary for economic growth.


Ezell 11 — Stephen Ezell, Senior Analyst with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation—a non-partisan research and educational institute and think tank whose mission is to formulate and promote public policies to advance technological innovation and productivity, former head of the Global Service Innovation Consortium at Peer Insight—an innovation research and consulting firm, holds a B.S. from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University with an Honors Certificate from Georgetown’s Landegger International Business Diplomacy program, 2011 (“Krugman Flat Wrong that Competitiveness is a Myth,” The Innovation Files, January 25th, Available Online at http://www.innovationfiles.org/krugman-flat-wrong-that-competitiveness-is-a-myth/, Accessed 08-11-2013)

In a Sunday op-ed in the New York Times, “The Competition Myth,” Paul Krugman argues that “competitiveness” is a myth, a bad metaphor, a fundamentally misleading goal, and that it doesn’t make “any sense to view our current woes as stemming from a lack of competitiveness.” About this, Krugman is absolutely, dead-on, 100 percent wrong. For the reality is that the perilous state of the American economy has everything to do with faltering U.S. competitiveness—and more than that—much to do with the abject refusal of neoclassical economists like Krugman himself to recognize that competitiveness is an issue, that countries compete, and that U.S. economic policy should be directly designed to bolster the competitiveness of U.S. organizations and industries.



Krugman’s like the young boy who finds himself losing a race with his buddies and who stops and yells, “I’m not racing!” Better to simply pretend that you aren’t racing than to lose. For if you can convince yourself that you aren’t in a race, you sure sleep better at night than if you admitted you were in a competition and were losing…That is, until you wake up one morning having lost ten million manufacturing jobs, have 10% unemployment, and have a horrifically bad trade balance. Moreover, when you refuse to even believe that you’re in a race, it’s a sure sign that you’re going to lose, as evidenced by the fact that the United States ranks 40th of out of 40 countries and regions in improving its innovation competitiveness over the past decade, as ITIF’s Atlantic Century report found.

Government policies are needed to support innovation and global competitiveness — Krugman is wrong.


Ezell 11 — Stephen Ezell, Senior Analyst with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation—a non-partisan research and educational institute and think tank whose mission is to formulate and promote public policies to advance technological innovation and productivity, former head of the Global Service Innovation Consortium at Peer Insight—an innovation research and consulting firm, holds a B.S. from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University with an Honors Certificate from Georgetown’s Landegger International Business Diplomacy program, 2011 (“Krugman Flat Wrong that Competitiveness is a Myth,” The Innovation Files, January 25th, Available Online at http://www.innovationfiles.org/krugman-flat-wrong-that-competitiveness-is-a-myth/, Accessed 08-11-2013)

Krugman’s misguided perspective on competitiveness dates back to a 1994 Foreign Affairs article he wrote, “Competitiveness, A Dangerous Obsession,” in which he made the utterly astounding contention that, “The notion that nations compete is incorrect…countries are not to any important degree in competition with each other.” Like many U.S. elites, Krugman simply refuses to recognize that the U.S. is in global economic—and innovation—competition with other nations. This view remains readily apparent in the NYT article, where Krugman contends that “we’re in a mess because we had a financial crisis, not because American companies have lost their ability to compete with foreign rivals.” Krugman goes on, “But isn’t it at least somewhat useful to think of our nation as if it were America Inc., competing in the global marketplace? No.” So again, only companies compete with one another; and it’s not helpful to think of the U.S. as competing. Moreover, our companies are competing fine…so the problem must be a financial crisis (caused by a few malfeasant firms in the financial sector).



But the reality is that countries do compete and seek to win in the highest-value-added sectors of economic activity. In fact, Krugman dramatically underestimates the impact that countries’ strategies—whether fair and consistent with global rules or not—can have in shifting comparative advantage in critical technology-based sectors their way. There are two aspects to this competition worth discussing.

First, an increasingly globalized economy means that countries have become price takers—not price makers—on international markets. In other words, companies now shop the world for the best locations to situate their globally mobile innovation activity, such as where to locate R&D facilities or build new factories. These companies look for which countries offer the best pools of talent (skilled scientists and engineers and a highly educated, highly skilled populace); which have the most attractive tax laws in terms of low corporate tax rates and generous and stable R&D tax credits; which have the most robust physical and digital infrastructures, the latter especially in terms of fixed and mobile broadband, electric smart grids, or intelligent transportation systems; which have the best high-skill immigration policies; the deepest pools of capital; the best funding for R&D; the easiest place to start a business; etc.. Collectively, these attributes constitute a nation’s innovation ecosystem, and governments play a legitimate and crucial role in shaping their nation’s innovation ecosystem. In fact, it is these innovation ecosystems on which countries increasingly compete. As Greg Tassey, a Senior Economist at the Department of Commerce National Institute of Standards and Technology argues, “Competition among governments has become a critical factor in determining which economies win and which lose in the increasingly intense process of creative destruction.”



But Krugman refuses to see this because “only companies compete.” This raises a consequent challenge again explained by Tassey: “Another underlying problem is that U.S. firms are attempting to compete largely as independent entities against a growing number of national economies in Europe and Asia in which government, industry, and a broad infrastructure (technical, education, economic, and information) are evolving into increasingly effective technology-based ecosystems.” Or as Wayne Johnson, Hewlett Packard’s Director of Worldwide Strategic University Customer Relations, said at a 2008 conference, “We in the United States find ourselves in competition not only with individuals, companies, and private institutions, but also with governments and mixed government-private collaborations.” In other words, the United States has a collection of players (businesses) running around competing against other players (nations) that are well equipped, well coached, and running specific plays.

They Say: “Trump Ruins U.S. Leadership”

Trump’s doesn’t ruin U.S. leadership — critics are wrong.


Kroenig 17 — Matthew Kroenig, Associate Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Senior Fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council, holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California-Berkeley, 2017 (“The Case for Trump's Foreign Policy: The Right People, the Right Positions,” Foreign Affairs, May/June, Available Online to Subscribing Institutions via Hein Online, p. 30)

Media coverage of U.S. President Donald Trump's foreign policy has been overwhelmingly negative. Analysts have seized on early policy missteps, a supposed slowness in staffing the national security bureaucracy, and controversial statements and actions as evidence that Trump's foreign policy is already failing.

But the critics have gotten a lot wrong and failed to give credit where credit is due. The Trump administration has left behind the rhetoric of the campaign trail and has begun to adopt foreign policies that are, for the most part, well suited to the challenges ahead. Trump inherited a crumbling international order from President Barack Obama, but he has assembled a highly capable national security team to help him update and revitalize it. Many of the controversial foreign policy statements that Trump has made as president have, in fact, been consistent with established U.S. policy. Where he has broken with tradition, it has often been to embrace much-needed change.

It is too early to pass definitive judgment on the Trump administration. But its rapid improvement, combined with Trump's own willingness to take bold action, suggests that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger may have been right when he told CBS News last December that Trump's presidency could present "an extraordinary opportunity" for U.S. foreign policy.



Accusations that Trump has “ended U.S. leadership” and partisan and wrong.


Larison 17 — Daniel Larison, Senior Editor at The American Conservative, Columnist for The Week, holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago, 2017 (“Trump’s Foreign Policy and U.S. ‘Leadership’,” The American Conservative, June 5th, Available Online at http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/trumps-foreign-policy-and-u-s-leadership/, Accessed 07-14-2017)

As for the charge that the U.S. is abandoning its “leadership” role, I am much more skeptical. After listening to hawks bemoan an “absence” of American “leadership” for eight years under Obama, I know that most complaints of this kind are rooted in either partisan hostility and/or policy disagreement. A president isn’t “leading” when he is doing something a pundit doesn’t like or when he isn’t doing something the pundit thinks needs doing. Decrying a “lack” of “leadership” and demanding more is the go-to move for any critic who wants to bash a president’s decisions without engaging with the substance of those decisions. It gives a critic something to say without having to say much of anything. It is worth noting that Fareed Zakaria, one of the people declaring the Paris agreement withdrawal as proof that the U.S. “resigned as leader of the free world,” also gushed that Trump finally became president when he ordered an illegal attack on the Syrian government. If that is what “leadership” means to many of our foreign policy pundits, perhaps we would be better off with less of it in any case.

When a foreign policy pundit declares that U.S. “leadership” has been brought to an end by this or that action, he is often just saying that he thinks the current president is conducting foreign policy the wrong way, and “leadership” talk usually frees the pundit from having to explain anything else. The problem the critic has is not that the U.S. has ceased to “lead,” but that the president is leading the U.S. in the wrong direction. It would be more useful and it would save us all a lot of time if critics of this or any other president’s actions would skip laments for lost “leadership.”

Trump hasn’t ended U.S. leadership.


Dougherty 17 — Michael Brendan Dougherty, Senior Writer at The National Review, 2017 (“America Doesn’t Have a Successor,” The National Review, June 2nd, Available Online at http://www.nationalreview.com/article/448245/donald-trump-american-leadership-united-states-still-hegemonic, Accessed 07-14-2017)

There is a frantic, almost panicked desire to see dramatic declines in U.S. power and prestige because its people elected Donald Trump. The people have to learn their lesson, after all. But the reality-based community has lost touch with the real world. America remains a hegemonic force: It has the largest and best equipped military that secures peace and prosperity from Europe to the South China Sea, the most prestigious university system, the largest consumer market, and it remains the source of so much innovation.

The most powerful and important country on earth is led by Donald Trump. This may be unpleasant, uncomfortable, and a little scary. The world may hate it. Most days, I do. But it does not mean that the United States ceases to be powerful and important. An American-led world order might feel queasy with Donald Trump at the helm. But the deckhand doesn’t prove the captain is nuts by chopping down the main mast himself, or declaring the ship sunk at the first gust of hot air.



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