Microsoft President Brad Smith offered a dire assessment of world affairs on Friday, pointing to the economy, war and climate as among the troubles putting extraordinary pressure on people across the globe.
Mr. Smith told the Aspen Security Forum that Americans must unite to prove that democracy can still win the day against the challenges facing the world.
“We’re dealing with the biggest pandemic in 100 years, the biggest war in Europe in 70 years, the biggest spike in inflation in 40 years, potentially the first recession in 12 years and, at the same time, the biggest demographic shift with flattening or even declining populations in 700 years when the black plague swept through Europe, and the biggest change in climate in 12,000 years when the last Ice Age ended,” Mr. Smith said. “And we have all been living through this together over the last two years. So we are under stress.”
While China is investing heavily in its public sector, the Microsoft leader said, the free world will need to prove its systems and values will triumph through showcasing its free elections, dynamic private sector, and its nonprofit community.
“The only way for us to respond effectively to such an inordinate response in public sector innovation is the combination that we have: public sector, business, and universities, the greatest nonprofits, in some ways, the world has ever seen for the course of innovation,” Mr. Smith said.
Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat, who appeared alongside Mr. Smith and former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt on Friday, expressed more optimism about the direction of the U.S. and its government.
He said political extremists get too much attention and his colleagues are attempting to craft bipartisan industrial policies that can win support from American allies.
“I say the demise of American democracy, or democracy writ large, is way overstated at this point,” Mr. Warner said.