Why a New Marshall Plan for the Arab World makes sense?

London, UK - 9th February 2011, 09:50 GMT

Dear ATCA Open & Philanthropia Friends

[Please note that the views presented by individual contributors are not necessarily representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral. ATCA conducts collective Socratic dialogue on global opportunities and threats.]

Tunisia is known for exporting olive oil and Deglet Noor dates. Now it is pleased to add revolution as one of its principal items of export. Revolution is becoming Tunisia's only around-the-clock and never-out-of-stock, free-of-charge export item! Members of the European Parliament or MEPs have called for an international donors' conference to be held for Tunisia, as it undergoes its democratic transition after the ouster of its former president Ben Ali.

Original Marshall Plan

A delegation of European lawmakers, who travelled to the north African country between February 3rd and 6th, told foreign affairs and human rights committees at the European parliament earlier this week that a donors' conference should be convened as soon as possible. In a parliamentary statement, they highlighted youth unemployment estimated as high as 50 percent and a 40 percent tourism revenue slump. Some MEPs called for the drawing up of a broad new 'Marshall Plan,' and not just a financial envelope, "to help those that have taken the road of democracy." That was a reference to the US-led international restructuring aid drawn up to rebuild Europe in response to the ruins of post-WWII. MEPs suggest that the European Union, the United Nations and other international actors should coordinate this aid under a new Marshall Plan. No such solution can really work without involving the Arab countries themselves, including the oil rich Gulf Co-operation Council countries.

European Parliament president Jerzy Buzek, a former Solidarity activist in Communist Poland, said north Africa faces "the same difficult and scarcely navigable path" to democracy as eastern and central Europe 20 years ago post 1989. The Arab world will recover from its current political and economic paralysis and attain some form of greater democracy in the near future. However, there is a need for a large-scale plan to regenerate countries in North Africa -- like Tunisia and Egypt -- along the lines of the United States' multi-billlion dollar post-World War II Marshall Plan. The oil rich Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, Europe and the US may need to help Tunisia, Egypt and other Arab countries in similar turmoil. If as many believe, Tunisia and Egypt are going to have democratically elected governments, the rich and powerful countries in the Middle East and elsewhere, must launch a new 'Marshall' plan worth billions of dollars and create employment for young people.

The US sponsored original Marshall Plan gave demoralized European people jobs and hope. The Marshall Plan channelled 13 billion dollars of technical and financial aid to Europe's war-ravaged economies between 1948 and 1952. The aid came on top of the 12 billion dollars the US handed to Europe from the end of the Second World War in 1944 until the start of the plan. That is a significant way in which humanity can ensure stability in the Arab world once again. The unrest in Egypt and other Arab countries has been stoked by oppression and by poverty. It follows the template of a classic class struggle against autocratic regimes, given the crippling combination of population growth and shrinking natural resources, in particular arable land and potable water.

The original Marshall Plan worked against the encroachment of communism after WWII because it lent economic stability to post war Europe. These political uprisings that we are seeing in the Middle East and Africa are for a very large part fuelled by the huge economic instability felt by the majority of the populace, not the top 10% to 15% wealthy elite. Political stability and economic stability go hand in hand and Western military might may not be of any use in this new digitally driven leaderless revolution theatre. Diplomacy and financial aid are the keys to stabilising the situation created by self-assembling dynamic networks of youth revolutionaries. Economic stability is seldom created by redistributing money to despots. The West may have given billions to Arab dictators and they are still despots presiding on countries that are on the verge of bankruptcy as confidence plunges yet again. Economic stability comes from free markets and free people.

America and Europe's homeland security as well as the stability of the petro-regimes will be best assured through a strategy of generosity and caring, manifest via a new Marshall Plan for the needy Arab countries.


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