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Selling a Vision of Hope: A Refreshing Alternative to Armageddon

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Vision of Hope
Archive >> March 2011
file under: vision of hopeMiddle East Peaceeconomic developmentDemonstrations 24 Mar 2011 5:01 PM
Half Measures with No Clear Vision in Sight Posted by Nissim Dahan
Where is the vision? Where are we heading? And how do we get there?

 

For some reason, when it comes to the Middle East, people the world over seem to content themselves with half measures and short-sighted thinking. We feel good about doing something, anything for that matter, even if it has little bearing on the problem at hand, or no chance of bringing about a long term solution.

 

Take, as an example, the current military campaign in Libya, which is being undertaken by France, England and the U.S. We are targeting military installations, pursuant to authorization from the U.N. Security Council and the Arab League, ostensibly to stop Gadhafi from killing his own people. Sounds good, right? But as they say, the devil is in the details. Why aren't we attacking other dictators who are similarly killing their own people? How will a strictly air campaign prevent Gadhafi from killing his people? Isn't regime change our ultimate goal? How will an air campaign bring about regime change? And if Gadhafi steps down, who will take his place, and to what end?

 

And the Libya affair is not an isolated example of lack of vision and lack of direction. With our blood and treasure heavily invested in Afghanistan and Iraq, we still don't have even a hint of peace and stability in those nations. With a sanction regime imposed on Iran, we still see Iran pursuing its nuclear weapon ambitions with impunity, as well as its ambitions to remake the Middle East as it sees fit. And with the mounting pressure being exerted on the whole of the Middle East by the man on the street, we still don't have a sense that the change that is coming will be in keeping with the aspirations of the people, and with the best interests of the region as a whole.

 

So what is missing in the puzzle we call the Middle East? What is missing is a vision, and a reasonable way of giving substance to the vision. And without a vision, and a solid plan of action, the best made plans of mice and men will drift aimlessly in the winds of change.

 

What is needed is a vision, a Vision of Hope, a vision of Peace, Prosperity and Freedom. It doesn't have to be that vision in particular, although such a vision would address most of what people aspire to, but it should be a vision which brings together all the pieces of a possible solution to our most intractable problems, which packages those pieces in the most attractive way possible, and which allows us to sell that vision to the man on the street. A vision of that sort, a vision which captures hearts and minds, would buy us time to make the necessary changes to give substance to the vision. When the man on the street, who fumes with anger even as we speak, comes to believe that he is being offered a place at the table, a stake in his future, then he may settle down, at least for a while, comforted in the belief that his dreams for the future may one day become real.

 

And who do we need most of all, to give substance to a Vision of Hope, a vision of Peace, Prosperity and Freedom? Well we have plenty of politicians out there, talking up a storm. And we have academics galore, arguing this and that, back and forth, and back again. And of course, we have our diplomats, ever so careful in the words they choose, going about here and there, making their presence known. But if we really want to get something done, if we choose to move from words to deeds, then we will have no choice but to get the business community in on the game, so as to create good paying jobs; jobs which grow our economies, jobs which protect our environment, and jobs which help to weaken the hold of extremist thinking.

 

Instead of half measures and short-sighted thinking, we owe it to ourselves, and to future generations, to put in place a new model for the Middle East, by inspiring the world's top business leaders, Billionaires for Peace, to push the peace process forward from behind the scenes, and to revitalize the entire region with good paying jobs, moderate candidates, and requisite institutions, for the sake of global peace, prosperity and freedom. 

 

There is a real opportunity now to make something happen in the Middle East, something that could change the world for the better, and something that will breathe life into the people there and beyond. But nothing good will happen, if all we look for is the quick fix. What is needed is a vision which puts it all together, and the willingness to do what it takes to make real what is now only a dream.

 

Please join us, with your comments.
file under: vision of hopepeace in the Middle EastDemonstrationsbillionaires for peace 4 Mar 2011 4:24 PM
Doing Justice to the Martyrs Posted by Nissim Dahan
 

It's one thing to bring about a revolution; it's quite another to bring about revolutionary change.

 

There are people dying, even as we speak, on the streets of the Middle East.  Mohammed Bouazizi of Tunisia set himself on fire, and in one fell swoop, set the entire region ablaze. But to what end?

 

Like Martin Luther King, the man on the street has a dream. And his dream is not all that difficult to fathom. He wants the dignity of a decent job, and the freedom to live his life as he wishes. Are these aspirations in the cards for him, or will his dream be left in the dust, in the flurry of competing agendas?

 

One can only imagine what must be happening now behind closed doors, in the halls of political power; what promises are being made; what deals are being cut. When the dust settles, will the voices of the dead be heard?

 

Several possibilities come to mind. The old guard may find a way to reassert its grip on power, only in a new guise. Alternatively, the ideological extremists, who believe what they want to believe, could use the ballot box to gain control, only to impose a new regime of oppressive rule. Iran, after all, enjoyed a few months of democratic rule, after the fall of the Shah, only to usher in the Ayatollahs, who had a different idea in mind. One man, one vote, one time. Or so the motto goes. And finally, although there are no guarantees, it may actually be possible, this time around, to institute revolutionary change, the change that gives life to the aspirations of the people, and that does justice to the legacy of the dead.

 

What can be done to give substance to the hopes of the people? Three things. First, we should recognize the opportunity that exists for meaningful change. Second, we should embrace a vision which allows us to take advantage of that opportunity. And third, we should find a mechanism that allows us to give substance to the vision. In this way, we can finally make real what is now only a dream.

 

The opportunity that exists for real change in the Middle East comes from the fact that many of the key players are beginning to worry about the same kinds of things, and may actually need one another for a change, to stave off these very common existential threats. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend." For example, many Arab leaders worry about two things in particular: the threat from a nuclear Iran, and the threat from the man on the street. These common threats could point to common interests, what I call a mosaic of mutual self-interest, which could in turn be used to create a strategic/economic alliance between the Arab states, Israel, the U.S., and Europe. The alliance will focus primarily on two things: providing security for the region and creating good paying jobs; jobs which grow our economies, jobs which protect the environment, and jobs which weaken the hold of extremist thinking.

 

What sort of a vision will be required to take advantage of the opportunity that exists for real change? It should be a Vision of Hope for the Middle East, a vision of Peace, Prosperity and Freedom. It will be a vision which puts together all the pieces of a possible solution to our most intractable problems-the Economy, the Environment and Extremism-which packages those pieces in the most attractive way possible, and which allows us to sell that package to the man on the street. It will be a vision which inspires a sense of hope, and which delivers on that promise by giving everyone in the region a place at the table, a stake in his or her future. And it will be a vision which is complete, in that it addresses all the needs and aspirations of the people, from every point of view possible.

 

And what mechanism can best give substance to a Vision of Hope? Certainly, political leaders will be needed, who recognize the needs and aspirations of the people, and who know how to translate those intangibles into hard realities. But in addition, and perhaps even more importantly, business leaders will be needed as well, Billionaires for Peace, who will work behind the scenes to push the peace process forward, and to revitalize the entire region with good paying jobs, moderate candidates and requisite institutions. These visionaries will put in place a new model for the Middle East, a model that inspires a sense of hope, and that delivers on that promise.

 

More than any other group, it is perhaps the business community which is best positioned, most qualified, and most inclined to turn the Middle East around, and to do justice to the memory of the dead, by giving life to the aspirations of the living.