Democracy and Human Development in the Broader Middle East: A Transatlantic Strategy for Partnership Istanbul Paper #1

Posted in Other | 24-Jun-04

Ron Asmus - member of the WSN International Advisory Board

Istanbul, Turkey
June 25 – 27, 2004

Promoting democracy and human development in the broader Middle East is a historic imperative — for the peoples and societies of the region as well as for the United States and Europe. The democratic reform and transformation of this region would be a critical step forward in ensuring a more peaceful and secure world.
Assisting this region in meeting the challenges of human development, modernity, and globalization would be a critical step in combating terrorism and in providing an antidote to the radical fundamentalist movements that employ it.

Meeting this challenge is first and foremost a challenge for the peoples and governments of the region itself. But the outside world — and North America and Europe in particular — can and should help.
Developments in the region today have a direct impact on our security and well-being. The threats emanating from radical terrorist movements constitute one of the greatest dangers to our societies and to world order. Both strategically and morally, our own interests are tied up with this region’s future.

That is why we believe that American and European interests are best served by pooling our political strength and resources to pursue a common strategy of partnership with the region. At the moment, there is a danger that Europeans and Americans will pursue competing democratization strategies.Whilst both sides bring different things to the table — and there are real advantages in complementarities — it would be far more effective to pool the best proposals available on both sides of the Atlantic and to coordinate their implementation in a joint endeavor. One of the great historical lessons of the 20th century is that the world is a much safer, more peaceful and democratic place when America and Europe cooperate. That is as true today as it was in the past.

There is perhaps no more fitting task than for the democracies of North America and Europe to come together to help promote democracy and human development in a part of the world where it is most absent and most needed. Our governments have taken the first steps in recognizing the failings of our past policies and in accepting the need to steer a new course vis-à-vis the region.We welcome these initial steps. At the same time, we believe there is a need for bigger and bolder thinking about the specifics of a future Western strategy. This paper is meant to stimulate discussion on this issue — on both sides of the Atlantic as well as in dialogue with our partners and interlocutors in the region.We hope it will be received in that spirit.We look forward to a dialogue on these ideas.

Read full text