Karen Brune Mathis
You don’t need to look far to see how the economy is impacted by China and other countries.
“If the citizens of Jacksonville, and really the United States, would focus for 10 minutes on what makes our economy tick today, they would very quickly come to the conclusion we have to maintain stability with our trading partners,” said retired U.S. Navy Adm. Robert Natter, who runs a consulting and lobbying firm in Ponte Vedra.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. We tend to focus on our daily lives, but stability around the world is in everybody’s interest,” said Natter.
That includes the ability for the U.S. and its global trading partners to export and import goods and materials, not the least of which are oil and other energy sources.
Natter will talk about “Emerging Issues in Asia and the Impact on the United States” at 6 p.m. June 30 at the University of North Florida Student Union Auditorium. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Intercultural Center for PEACE at UNF.
Natter was commander for the U.S. Atlantic Fleet/Fleet Forces Command from 2000 to 2003. His list of experience and honors is extensive. The Atlantic Fleet included more than 160,000 sailors and Marines, 162 ships and 1,200 aircraft, along with 18 major shore stations that provided training, maintenance and logistics support.
Since retirement, he has operated R.J. Natter & Associates LLC, a nationwide firm with offices in Ponte Vedra and Washington, D.C. It provides consulting and advocacy on corporate and defense strategy. The City has been a client for federal advocacy, including the home-porting of a nuclear carrier at Naval Station Mayport. Natter also worked on behalf of the state’s military bases during the recent two-year Base Realignment and Closure process.
Natter spoke recently to the Meninak Club of Jacksonville and outlined challenges with Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Russia, Korea and China.
He said China was the “greatest long-term area of concern and interest” because of its growth as an economic power and said the United States needed to work with China to avoid potential military conflict.
“China is developing into a power,” he told the club.
In an interview last week with the Daily Record, Natter said he would outline at UNF the emerging economic power of Southeast Asia and the military chal-lenges.
“Hopefully, the more the nations of Southeast Asia and China become more vested in the international economy, the more they will be interested in stability,” said Natter.
“Having said that, China has some significant earning power and spending power and they are utilizing a lot of that for their military capability, which has been relatively dormant until about 15 years ago,” said Natter.
At that time, “they started moving to a capitalistic approach, away from socialism and communism, and it’s certainly enabled their economy to move very quickly into” a competitive global marketing position.
Natter said that with the additional spending power, China’s leaders are able to “jump-start their military with the relatively low prices of technology coming out of the former Soviet Union, currently Russia, and they have improved their military capability significantly, so I see some areas where there can be military competition as well.”
Natter said that it is in China’s best interest to keep the “sea lanes of communication” open to export its goods.
In 2009, President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao established the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue to create high-level discussion about issues between the two nations. The second joint meeting took place May 24-25 in Beijing.
Natter said the effort is constructive, “especially on the economic and financial side of the ledger.”
“Both nations know it is in their best interest to maintain a stable financial arrangement between ourselves and other trading partners around the world, specifically Europe, so for that reason, we are doing some very good things,” said Natter.
Natter said there has not been a lot of discussion about human rights violations and other issues that the U.S. focused on 15 to 20 years ago, “and needless to say, there are still some out there.”
He said those issues are on the back burner because the U.S. won’t have much influence “unless we have a closer economic relationship.”
Natter said he spent the majority of his Navy career in Asia, during which “I heard many military people talk about the growing importance of Asia to the United States, and we have always been a nation more attached to Europe.”
He said that the health of the U.S. today is more dependent on the stability of China than it is on Europe.
“We’ve always been behind the demand curve on where our national focus was directed. We tended to always look east and we should be looking more to the west, and that is going to increase as the strength of China and India and the Southeast Asia countries increases.”
Natter said he was optimistic about China.
“The more vested China becomes in the international community, as a result the more interested they are in stability and therefore we are all better off for it.”
For information about the lecture, e-mail email@example.com.