While former Governor Sarah Palin is not seeking to become the next President of the United States, the rest of the world clearly is seeking her as a major player in the future of a global economy and international relations. As we head into the 2012 primaries and general election, the GOP Establishment and others would be wise to regard her likewise.
Tomorrow Palin will address an international audience at The World Knowledge Forum in Seoul, South Korea (www.wkforum.org) during a 3-day conference titled “The New Economic Crisis: Reforming Global Leadership and Asia’s Challenge.” She will be among Economists (Asian Development Bank’s Chief Economist, Changyong Rhee), Policy Chiefs (Democratic Party of Japan’s Seiji Maehara), and Professors (from Harvard, Yale, M.I.T., NYU). Even Chairmen from Walt Disney International, Toshiba, and PricewaterhouseCoopers International Limited will share the stage with Gov. Palin.
When I read the list of speakers (there are more) joining the former Governor, I had to laugh at the comments made by a panel of CNN commentators who dismissed her influence after she announced she would not run for President of the US.
As the Forum describes her substantial impact:
“During the WKF, Sarah Palin will give a US leadership perspective on how to lead the world out of the latest crisis.
The 2011 WKF will be celebrating its 12th session this year under the theme of ‘New Crisis.’ Our distinguished guests – 250 global leaders from 40 countries around the world – will shine new light and shed insights on how to successfully navigate through the drastically altered global management environment following the global financial crisis.
Our list of illustrious speakers include current and former public officials – such as former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and European Commissioner for Trade Karel de Gucht – as well as the world-famous academics in the likes of Michael Sandel, Amy Chua, and Strobe Talbott. Our prominent mega business speakers also include Toshiba CEO Atsutoshi Nishida and Rio Tinto CEO Tom Albanese.”
No doubt leaders throughout South Korea are looking for an alternative to President Obama’s ineffective leadership. Since he took office three years ago, Obama has been slow to send to Congress three free trade agreements (with South Korea, Columbia and Panama) that were hammered out during President Bush’s administration in 2006 and 2007. It’s been estimated that the South Korean pact would boost US exports by as much as $10.9 billion in the first year. The International Trade Commission, a US government agency, says up to 280,000 jobs could result. Businesses from General Electric to Caterpillar have been waiting four years for the White House to move on the agreements. Instead, Obama first sought to appease labor union demands for assistance to workers who might be displaced. As reported by Businessweek:
“Obama spent two years after taking office seeking to broaden Democratic support for the trade accords. He negotiated new terms for auto tariffs in the South Korea agreement that won over the United Auto Workers union…”
Obama finally sent the legislation up to Capitol Hill last Friday.
But leaders in South Korea continue to see Palin as a powerful force and tapped her to speak about her vision for the 2012 elections and how to rescue the US economy. Perhaps South Koreans see in Gov. Palin someone with the “brain power” to address not only uncertainty in the US, but also globally. Take, for instance, the topics of one of their sessions, “Gold Rush for Human Capital: Why Women are the Solution”:
“The world is involved in a war for talent. Without enough “brain power,” multinationals can’t succeed in these markets. The solution is hiding in plain sight: the millions of highly educated women. Women can represent the growing need for soft power in today’s world. Increasingly, women boast better credentials, higher ambitions, and greater loyalty than their male peers. … This session is highly recommended for all companies seeking to strengthen their talent pipeline.”
Strengthening the US government talent pipeline is something Governor Palin is uniquely qualified to fulfill—if not in 2012, then perhaps four or eight years from now. Yes, in 2020—when the vision for the future won’t be clouded by the feckless leadership of Barack Obama.
UPDATE: Congress is debating the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) Tuesday and Wednesday. Governor Palin had this to say about the pact:
‘‘I support what is being debated right now in Washington, D.C., with the FTA with South Korea because we are natural trading partners from automobiles to agricultural products.
‘‘What government can do is to open the gate and then get out of the way and let the people trade, let the markets dictate what should be traded and much of the terms, and I do look forward to seeing that outcome from the U.S. and Korea free- trade agreement.’’