Interrelation of Economic Development and SecurityUS-Senator Joseph Lieberman

Posted in NATO , United States , UN | 12-Feb-05 | Author: Joseph Lieberman

US-Senator Joseph I. Lieberman
In focusing the opening panel of this year's Munich Conference on the relationship between economic development and global security, Horst Teltshik has offered an important insight about the world today and suggested a significant way to make it safer tomorrow.

The insight is that global economic development has made military conflict much less likely among countries that are connected by it.

The suggested policy for a safer tomorrow, therefore, is to economically integrate the countries currently outside the global economic network in which Islamist terrorists -our most threatening enemies - will otherwise grow.

In his Inaugural Address, President Bush upheld the pursuit of freedom as the driving ideal of America's foreign policy and made clear that in the world's war against terrorism, the best way to defend our liberty is to spread liberty to the places where tyranny now thrives, opportunity is stifled and terrorism grows.

I want to argue this morning that the liberty of which the President spoke means economic as well as political freedom. Just as democracies are unlikely to wage war against one another, so too are countries whose economies are connected in the modern world unlikely to allow their differences to lead to military conflict.

For evidence of the proposition that economic unity can be diplomatic destiny, we need go no further than U.S.-EU relations - often contentious but never belligerent. While our shared histories and values matter most, in our long-term relationship, so too do our intertwined economies.

The second convenient illustration of the point is the EU itself, where historic and often bloody rivalries have in our time been diminished - hopefully extinguished - not just by Europe's political union, but also by its economic union.

Of course, history cautions us not to conclude that economic globalization means the end of war.

But it can fundamentally change relationships between countries the way nuclear weapons changed the nature of relations in the Cold War.

The strategic doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction - or MAD - which carried us through the Cold War without direct military conflict with the Soviet Union may now have been succeeded by what might be called MADD II - Mutually Assured Developmental Depression, with similar results. Once nations become interconnected by the global flow of capital, trade, technology, and telecommunications, war becomes so economically devastating that rational leaders will avoid it.

One of the main reasons globalization brings a peace dividend is that it raises standards of living throughout the world, which usually contributes to the rule of law and democracy. This distribution of power gives people the ability to restrain their leaders and prevent nations from falling backwards into war and poverty.

The number of people in the world living in poverty fell by 130 million between 1990 and 2002. Child mortality fell from 88 per 1,000 live births to 70 in the same period. In the Middle East, the numbers and people are moving in the opposite direction. From 1990 to 2001, the percentage of people living in poverty in the Middle East more than doubled while child mortality declined at half the rate of the rest of world.

How could this have happened, particularly at a time when the world's demand for energy from the Middle East increased as has its price?

The sad fact is that in the Middle East in the final decades of the 20th Century, while the rest of the world tore down old commercial and cultural barriers and saw their living standards rise, most Muslim countries fortified the barriers and saw standards of living fall.

Many of these countries are now single-commodity economies, with rigidly controlled public sectors that choke development, trade, innovation and opportunity-and, incidentally, political freedom. The result is the impoverishment of the hopes all humans naturally hold dear.

In 1990,13.5 percent of all world exports came from the Middle East. Today that figure is just 4 percent. Between 1975 and 2002, while the world's per capita GDP was growing by 1.3 percent - and Asia's by nearly 6 percent - the Arab world grew by a mere 0.1 percent.

The second Arab Human Development Report, issued in 2003, painfully catalogued knowledge deficits in the Middle East. Newspapers circulate there at one-fifth the rate of the developed world. Arabic books represent 1 percent of books published each year. Less than 2 percent of the people in the Arab world have access to the Internet. The number of scientists being educated there is about a third of the global average. Labor productivity has been low and is declining.

This scientific, technical and commercial isolation surely contributes to the despair that breeds hatred and then terrorism there that threatens us here in Munich, in Madrid, in New York and throughout the world. The free nations of the world must urgently develop and implement a sustained strategy and new multilateral institutions for economic assistance and engagement with the Middle East that will bring its people the benefits of the global economy and economic opportunity.

I want to briefly outline three ideas that can help do this and urge that we pursue these goals together.

As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Paris earlier this week: Our transatlantic partnership will not just endure in this struggle; it will flourish. We are strong now, but we will be stronger still when we together put our values to work for those whose aspirations of freedom and prosperity have yet to be met.

With that in mind, first: I appeal for a big increase in international development assistance to the predominately Muslim countries of the Middle East and Central Asia. Everyone agrees with this urgent goal, but thus far little has been done to achieve it.

On the U.S. side, the Middle East Partnership Initiative has been consistently under-funded. In the past three years, the President requested a total of $500 million, but just $264 million was approved and only $103 million spent.

The same disconnect between pledges and payments exist in Europe. The European Commission pledged 5.4 billion Euros in assistance to its Middle East and Mediterranean partners for the period from 1995-2003, but disbursed only 2.46 billion.

We need a real partnership among the United States, Europe and recipient countries and a process to decide jointly on aid and investment priorities that most effectively use our common resources.

The G-8 endorsed Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) Initiative offers a welcome mechanism for trans-Atlantic co-operation with the governments and civil society in the region and should be supported.

Last year, with my colleague Sen. Chuck Hagel, I proposed legislation that will authorize the United States to work with the international community to establish a multilateral Development Foundation to develop grass-roots programs in support of private sector development and entrepreneurship and a larger-scale Development Bank to fund the huge infrastructure requirements of this region. Both of these would authorize the U.S. to work with the international community, including the countries of the Middle East which have realized such an enormous bonus from increased oil prices in recent months.

Second: The economies of the Middle East must be integrated with the rest of the world through trade.

Today only half of the members of the Arab League are full members of the World Trade Organization. We should commit ourselves to seeing to it that the other half join the WTO as soon as possible and surely not later than 2010. This is urgent.

As those countries make the changes of law and regulation required by WTO membership, not only will increases in trade and investment flow, but the rule of law will be advanced and democracy encouraged.

Third, we must increase aid targeted to public education in the Middle East and offer an alternative to the free religious schools where too little scientific and technical knowledge has been taught - the essential skills needed for progress in the 21st Century -and where too often bigotry has been taught and terrorists created.

Last year Senator McCain and I authored legislation -signed into law by President Bush as part of the Intelligence Reform Act of 2004 - that creates an International Youth Opportunity Fund - a fund we hope other nations will help shape and support.

The Fund will pay for constructing and operating new primary and secondary schools and libraries in the Middle East. It also mandates an increase in exchange programs that will send more of our students to Arab countries and bring more Arab students to the United States.

Through action on proposals like these, we can bind the Arab world with ours in the same way the different cultures and economies of the United States, Europe, Asia and parts of South America have been bound by the global economy without losing our unique national identities.

I would be remiss if here in Munich, Germany, I did not cite as precedent the Marshall Plan, which invested in the reconstruction of Europe. This began the economic integration of the countries of Europe with each other, as well as the United States, and created the democratic space which stopped the westward movement of Soviet communism.

Today, such a generous partnership will -I am confident - bring similar results to the Middle East.

I want to close with a thought on Iraq, which is the best, immediate opportunity to advance the policy of economic development and global security.

Of course, there was great disagreement among us about whether to act militarily to overthrow Saddam Hussein. But now that he is gone, and the Iraqis have elected their own government - in that most moving display of freedom's allure - isn't it time for all of us to come together to provide generous economic assistance that will open schools, start businesses, create jobs in the new Iraq, and - through trade - connect the economy of Iraq to the world's?

If the free nations of the world can come together now and help the people of Iraq - and ultimately the entire Middle East - create free and prosperous societies for themselves, we will not only dry up the swamp terrorists recruit from, we will be helping a great people find their peaceful way back to their historic role as world leaders.

Then the Cradle of Civilization that rocked so many of our cultures in infancy will itself be reborn.