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1 ONE Introduction IN THE UNITED STATES, a 10 percent unemployment rate is a catastrophe, the kind of number that gets presidents and parties booted from office. In much of the world, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, a rate three times that—unemployment greater than America’s at the height of the Great Depression—is a fact of life. From Yemen to Turkey, Algeria to Iraq, young men face staggering odds against finding work. The job market is even worse for job-seeking women, who are not even counted in unemployment figures in some countries . Twenty-eight percent of young people1 in Saudi Arabia are unemployed . Over 30 percent in Tunisia. Thirty-five percent in Egypt. Nearly 40 percent in the Palestinian Territories. As a whole, the MENA region is home to the highest youth unemployment rates in the world. And those rates are rising.2 This is not merely a crisis of percentage. MENA is absolutely teeming with young people. Today, of the roughly 420 million Arabs in the world, twothirds are age twenty-nine or younger. Half of those hundreds of millions are under fifteen years old.3 By 2025, the populations of Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Jordan, Oman, Kuwait, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip will be double the 1995 levels.4 In the words of regional expert Vali Nasr, “Looking at the population numbers in the Middle East today, it is hard to see anything but youth.”5 Hard to see anything but youth without jobs, he might have said. 2 PEACE THROUGH ENTREPRENEURSHIP Millions of unemployed young people makes for millions of lives stunted by economic despair. It makes for legions of frustrated, idle, angry, and impressionable teenagers and twenty- and thirty-somethings. It makes for instability and chaos that spills over borders—into Jordan, into Israel, and into Turkey. And, as we know from Paris, more and more, it makes for threats that spill into Europe and into America. Today, the lands of breathtakingly huge numbers of jobless youth are the lands of extremism and the lands where threats to peace and prosperity spawn. These lands are often “failed states” or, at the very least, “failing states,” especially from the standpoint of their increasingly hopeless and disaffected youth. From al-Qaeda to the Islamic State, terror and instability breed where young men cannot find jobs. Joblessness, not religious, cultural, or tribal strife, is, I believe, the root (though not the only) cause of the chaos that today challenges international security and American foreign policy. The Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, whose groundbreaking work ties peace and prosperity to economic opportunity, wrote in 2014 that the “West must learn a simple lesson: economic hope is the only way to win the battle for the constituencies on which terrorist groups feed.”6 De Soto is right. This book advances his point and argues that the United States government has utterly failed to deal with the foremost underlying cause of extremism: economic dysfunction. But this book also argues that the hope de Soto speaks of can come in great part—in most part, in fact— from a quintessential American value and underutilized foreign policy tool that offers a tremendously potent solution: entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is a job-creating machine. Jobs are the foundation of peaceful, civil societies. In the United States the youngest firms, not our established corporations, account for nearly all net job growth.7 The same is true in poor states and emerging markets, where small- and medium-size businesses predominate.8 By bolstering entrepreneurship in fragile and developing states, by supporting the innovators, startup companies, and job creators of the Arab world, the United States can generate truly viable economic opportunities for jobless youth and alternatives to the chaos and extremism that threatens America today. Until now, our response to the problems wrought by massive youth unemployment has been warfare, military advisors, drones, Guantanamo Bay detentions, and vast amounts of military spending. These have not made America more secure. Every year (or every month) it seems we face a new question about invading a Middle Eastern country, bombing a terrorist cell, INTRODUCTION 3 arming a repulsive rebel group, or ratcheting down on our own civil liberties . We spend trillions and lose thousands of American lives. And, as British diplomat and author Rory Stewart writes of coalition efforts to combat the Islamic State: “We already tried counterinsurgency and state-building in the same area of Iraq in response to a very similar group...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780815729242
Related ISBN
9780815729235
MARC Record
OCLC
946255043
Pages
240
Launched on MUSE
2016-07-31
Language
English
Open Access
No
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