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Military force may be necessary to counter direct military threats, but military force cannot counter the deeper demographic trends that face the world, nor create the conditions for political stability and economic opportunity that the world craves. (US Navy photo)...






Mar. 16, 2003. 01:00 AM 

Bombs won't end Third World misery


Military force may be necessary to counter direct military threats, but military force cannot counter the deeper demographic trends that face the world, nor create the conditions for political stability and economic opportunity that the world craves.

Here's just one reason why:

The most recent report of the United Nations Population Division shows that for 10 key Islamic nations — Afghanistan, Algeria, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen — population is projected to rapidly grow from 577 million in 2000 to 891 million in 2025 and 1.2 billion in 2050.

Moreover, as a major report from the Central Intelligence Agency — "Long-Term Global Demographic Trends: Reshaping the Geopolitical Landscape" — warned in July, 2001, before the September terrorist attacks, many developing nations will experience "substantial youth bulges" and, ominously, "the largest proportional youth populations will be located in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Iraq."

And, the report warned, "the failure to adequately integrate large youth populations in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa is most likely to perpetuate the cycle of political instability, ethnic wars, revolutions and anti-regime activities that already affect many of these countries. Unemployed youth provide exceptional fodder for radical movements and terrorist organizations, particularly in the Middle East."

The diffusion of modern technologies, advances in communications, the liberalization of markets and all the other forces of globalization have shrunk the world — and will continue to shrink it. So one thing this means is that how we manage globalization is clearly a security issue. Indeed, this was quite apparent in testimony by two top U.S. intelligence officials last month.

Appearing before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, CIA director George Tenet acknowledged that globalization has been "a profoundly disruptive force for governments to manage." Arab governments, for example, "are feeling many of globalization's stresses, especially on the cultural front, without reaping the economic benefits."

This echoed a similar warning he gave a year earlier before the same committee. Large numbers of young people are growing up in parts of the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa that do not have stable economies that can provide meaningful work.

"The problems that terrorists exploit — poverty, alienation and ethnic tensions — will grow more acute over the next decade," the head of the CIA predicted. "This will especially be the case in those parts of the world that have served as the most fertile recruiting grounds for Islamic extremist groups."

Likewise, vice-admiral Lowell Jacoby, who heads the Pentagon's Defence Intelligence Agency, testified last month that while "under the right conditions, globalization can be a very positive force, providing the political, economic and social context for sustained progress," in "those areas unable to exploit these advantages, it can leave large numbers of people seemingly worse off, exacerbate local and regional tensions, increase the prospects and capabilities for conflict and empower those who would do us harm."

A number of factors have "combined to increase the number of people facing deepening economic stagnation, political instability, and cultural alienation," Jacoby continued. "These conditions provide fertile ground for extremism."

Prime Minister Jean Chr้tien got into trouble for making similar comments on CBC television last September. Critics wrongly accused him of blaming the United States for the terrorist attacks when what he was really saying was that failure to address the underlying sources of deep frustration in these countries would only breed hostility and encourage desperate acts.

In its most recent report, The Bank Credit Analyst warns, "looming population bulges in some of the world's most unstable countries point to growing geopolitical risks." In fact, it even contends, "Current U.S. strategy in Iraq is probably being influenced by considerations relating to long-run population shifts."

The underlying message here, though, is that we have to do a much better job of ensuring that globalization brings real benefits to the people of the developing world, as well as encouraging, and helping, the countries of the developing world make the necessary internal changes to have healthy societies that generate opportunity and hope.

For example, we must ensure that the new Doha round of the World Trade Organization is truly a development round that focuses on the needs of the developing world. We have to actively assist these societies to develop their own economies in their own ways, rather than trying to impose our ways on them. And we must provide the necessary financial, technical and other help that these countries and societies need to advance in the world.

Bombs and missiles won't solve these problems. 

David Crane is The Star's economics editor. His column appears Tuesday to Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. He can be reached at by e-mail.


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