Two men who have led the state for their parties in the past, have now turned their attention to international affairs of state. Former Governor and U.S. Education Secretary Richard Riley and former Speaker of the S.C. House of Representatives and Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins are co-chairs of the South Carolina Advisory Council to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. Their job, says Ambassador Wilkins, is to educate on all levels.
“When you get right down to it, and I saw this firsthand in Canada, it’s all about relationships, country-to-country, people-to-people. The more we can have developed relationships, the more we can influence people. We are a force for good in the world. We are leading the world and we really have a responsibility make every effort to reach out on a humanitarian level, economic level as well as a diplomatic level and a security level,” says Wilkins.
The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition is a network of 400 businesses and non-governmental organizations; national security and foreign policy experts; and business, faith-based, academic and community leaders from all states. The list in South Carolina amounts to a state’s “Who’s Who” of business, political and higher education executives.
The “Putting Smart Power to Work” campaign in South Carolina—calls for increased investments in civilian-led tools of development and diplomacy. That should be coupled with a strong defense.
“The safer and more stable other countries are, the more prosperous and secure we will be here at home,” said Secretary Riley.
During the past presidential election, the candidates of both major parties endorsed this concept. This is a bi-partisan group says Ambassador Wilkins: “If you look at the list, from Colin Powell on down, it very much is bipartisan. I would not have been a part of it if I had not assured myself that it is a bipartisan effort.”
The officials will work to educate South Carolinians about the importance of a “smart power” foreign policy to South Carolina’s security and prosperity.
Wilkins, and other leaders, address these issues at a high-level forum held at University of South Carolina in Columbia. The forum launched the Advisory Council and the USGLC’s Putting Smart Power to Work campaign in South Carolina. He says he has been concerned about more protectionist talk coming out of Washington.
“We live in an interconnected world,” says Ambassador Wilkins. “We must invest in a “smart power” approach to foreign policy where we use our tools of development and diplomacy, along with a strong defense, to respond to the challenges we face abroad.”
USC President Harris Pastides, also on the advisory group, says its about preparing our next generation of leaders to live in an interconnected world.