Middle East Development and Democracy

February 14, 2008

The promotion of democracy abroad is hugely important, but we must focus on the best way to promote it. Navtej Dhillon says we need to move away from military power as tool of democracy promotion and start examining the use of economic development as our strongest method of building stronger ties between the Middle East and the United States.


“Democracy is hugely important. I think that we can now safely conclude that military power, external military power, is perhaps not the best way to promote democracy in the Middle East. In fact, if anything, it can be a hostage to fortune. My own personal belief is that democracy will come to the Middle East, but it has to be locally owned and it has to be locally driven. And we are seeing some of those movements emerge, and we ought to support them.”

“However, democracy cannot bypass economic development. There has to be a foundation for economic development. There has to be economic inclusiveness. There have to be jobs, and people’s aspirations have to be met. And I would like for us to perhaps focus more on that, and use, really, this generation as a window for the types of reforms that are critical to securing economic prosperity, but they also have positive political implications.”

“The next president has a very good opportunity to use this demographic to build stronger ties between the Middle East and the U.S. And I think that we really have not reached out to this large and vast population in the way that we should have. I think that our security concerns have dictated this relationship between the U.S. and the Middle East, and the future president, I think, should elevate economic development along with security, and, also, do more to really promote the real bread and butter issues that the region faces.”