Strauss Center News

Updates from the Strauss Center and our affiliated distinguished scholars and fellows


Gavin Examines the Biden Administration’s Joint Pursuit of National Wealth and Security

Jul 20, 2021 |

Francis J. Gavin, Giovanni Agnelli Distinguished Professor and the inaugural director of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at SAIS-Johns Hopkins University, as well as former Director of the Strauss Center, recently published an article in War on the Rocks titled “Economics and U.S. National Security.” Noting the Biden administration’s explicit linking of U.S. foreign policy and the economic wellbeing of the middle class. In an effort to ascertain if these two goals are indeed mutually compatible, Gavin highlights five big issues that must be addressed and understood.

The first is the tension between economics and security, which he notes generates four specific dilemmas that may only be remedied by way of prudent grand strategy. The second issue to be addressed is America’s economic history. In this section, Gavin provides a brief overview of the nation’s economic development and sources of national wealth, its regulatory approach to managing the economy, and the areas where America’s economic policy has failed to deliver benefits to the general American public. The third issue affecting the relationship between U.S. national security and economics is the fact that “the United States is different.” Gavin discusses America’s unique worldview, underscoring how its historical approach to international trade and empire distinguishes it from other major world powers. The final issue Gavin addresses is “American foreign economic policy after 1945,” which he divides into four different periods of time in order to dispel the myth that U.S. foreign economic policy developed in a linear fashion in the postwar period.

Gavin then identifies the “five big questions about the future of the American economy” that the Biden administration would need to examine if it is to successfully center its foreign economic policy around domestic interests. He concludes by noting that this goal, while “commendable,” “may not be as easy or simple as one might think,” and the administration’s handling of this issue will certainly have consequences for years to come. Read the full article here.