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  • Author: Edward M. Gabriel
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: Twenty years ago, I arrived in Morocco as the new U.S. Ambassador. It was the beginning of a close-up view of the changes going on in Morocco for the next two decades. During my first meeting with King Hassan II, shortly after my arrival, he wasted no time in addressing Morocco’s agenda with the United States, challenging me on our nation’s positions, especially in regard to his Kingdom’s existential issue regarding sovereignty over the Sahara. This unexpected candid and warm exchange set the tone for regular meetings throughout my tenure during which concerns and grievances were voiced in private, rather than aired publicly. King Mohammed VI would continue this practice with me after his father’s death. My first few months in the country also coincided with the beginning of the first government of Alternance, led by opposition leader Abderrahmane El Youssoufi—a watershed moment for Morocco that many political analysts mark as the beginning of significant democratic reform and economic liberalization in Morocco after years of a strong-armed approach to governing and limited civil rights. Abderrahmane El Youssoufi, whose political activities had previously resulted in two years in jail and then 15 years of exile, became Prime Minister after his party, the Socialist Union of Popular Forces (USFP), won the most seats in the November 1997 elections. Since then, the international community has confirmed Moroccan elections as occurring in a fair and transparent manner. In 1998, the unemployment rate in the country was 17 percent and growing, with youths making up a disproportionate percentage of the population. Women lacked equal rights with men. The percentage of the population living at or below the poverty line for lower middle-income countries was around 28 percent, and more than half of the entire adult population was illiterate, with rates among rural women much higher. Electricity in the country reached only around 60 percent of the population, and almost a quarter did not have access to potable water. Infant mortality rates were 23 percent higher than the regional average, and maternal mortality ratios were nearly double the regional average. Overall, the micro-economic picture was in dire shape. The economy was too dependent on agriculture, accounting for 20 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and heavily reliant on rainfall. Infrastructure was lacking throughout the country, and environmental degradation was widely apparent throughout the cities and the countryside, presenting a challenge to the growth of tourism. Of particular note, the northern part of Morocco was completely neglected after a series of militant actions created an irreparable rift between King Hassan and his citizens there. In contrast to the micro-economic indicators, by 1998 King Hassan had established a strong macro-economic climate: a low ratio of debt to GDP, a low budget deficit and an open, competitive economic system. He adopted International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank reforms that, had Morocco been a member of the European Union, would have qualified it for inclusion in the Monetary Union. Upon his death in 1999, King Hassan left the country unified, with a very strong nationalistic belief in country and King, a reasonably performing economy and, most important, with a solid commitment in its support for U.S. objectives regarding counterterrorism and economic openness, and in promoting peace in the Middle East. Twenty years later, where is Morocco today? Where is it headed tomorrow?
  • Topic: Agriculture, Development, Diplomacy, Education, Democracy, Decentralization , IMF
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, North Africa, Morocco
  • Author: Jefferey Bleich
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: We grew up in a century defined by the Second Industrial Revolution. Today, that revolution is being eclipsed by a Digital Revolution. The uncertainty that we are experiencing in every aspect of our society is the same disorientation that occurred between 1870 and 1910 when the first Industrial Revolution ended and a second one began. It eventually vaulted nations like America and Australia to the top of the world order. But it also produced the Gilded Age, labor unrest, mass migrations, the Great Depression and two world wars. That era is closing, and we are now experiencing the new great dis­ruption that Silicon Valley promised. Digital technology—while solving crucial problems—is creating or compounding others. It has outstripped the capacity of government to control it and amplified the collapse of public confidence in democratic governments. It has inflamed rivalries between those who benefit and those who don’t. It has undermined standards—of altruism and of civility—that are necessary for us to find common ground. To appreciate this, we have to see where we’ve come from. A hundred and fifty years ago, we went through the same thing. Changes in technology revolutionized media, global integration and demographics. The changes were profound. In 1879, during a three-month period, both the electric light and a workable internal combustion engine were invented. Those two inventions alone produced over the next 40 years a dizzying number of new technologies. The telephone, phonograph, motion pictures, cars, airplanes, elevators, X-rays, electric machinery, consumer appliances, highways, suburbs and supermarkets—all were created in a 40-year burst from 1875 to 1915. Technology fundamentally transformed how people live. We’ve known for a while that the structures created by this Second Industrial Revolution were running their course, at least in advanced economies, and that it was being replaced by a new revolution, the digital revolution. Recently, the pace of these advances has started to build exponen­tially, and the pressure has been mounting. Everyone who has had to throw out their CD player for a DVD player for an iPod for an iPhone for Spotify knows what I mean. Further, the pace at which our world is being changed just keeps accelerating. Every year a new massive theory of disruption emerges: “the digital economy,” “the social network,” “the Internet of things,” “sharing economy” and “big data.” Last year, “machine learning”—where machines teach themselves things we do not know—was the buzzword. The word in Silicon Valley this year is “singularity”—where our species itself is altered by technology (gene-editing, bionics, artificial intelligence), creating a new hybrid species.
  • Topic: Economics, Education, Digital Economy, Higher Education, Digital Revolution
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Australia, North America
  • Author: Roger R Ream
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: In an interview a few years after he was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, F.A. Hayek expressed his strong belief that the climate of opinion mattered much more than current politics. Having engaged for more than half a century in the intellectual debate between socialism and freedom, he came to the following conclusion from his experience: So far as the movement of intellectual opinion is concerned, it is now for the first time in my life moving in the right direction….When I was a young man, only the really old men believed in a free market system. When I was in my middle age, almost I myself and no one else believed in it. Now I have the pleasure of having lived long enough to see the young people believe again in it. That is a very important change. Whether this comes in time to save the world, I don’t know.[1] The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) was founded in 1967 with a mission focused on influencing the intellectual climate in the world by giving young people entering leadership positions a balanced perspective on political and economic systems. It was founded in the heat of the Cold War and during a period of growing unrest and even violent upheaval on college campuses. Many of the founders of the organization were actively engaged in international programs, including former Congressman Walter Judd and political organizer David R. Jones. While TFAS cannot lay claim to the title of ending the Cold War or calming the campuses, TFAS alumni have gone on to play key roles in world and national events. Several have served in Congress, including two serving today, Sen. Claire McCaskill (MO) and Rep. David Rouzer (NC). When TFAS was incorporated in February 1967, the founding articles stressed several priorities, including granting scholarships for preparatory studies for careers in public service and journalism and for summer programs stressing leadership development and internship experience. A distinct objective was to encourage foreign travel and study to encourage youth “to compare the American way of life with that of peoples of other lands and to better understand the problems confronting our Government in the conduct of foreign affairs.” This last objective wasn’t realized until 1993, when TFAS developed overseas institutes where college students from the United States could study with young people from other regions in the world. TFAS now organizes summer programs in Prague, Czech Republic, Hong Kong and Santiago, Chile. Many of the graduates of these overseas programs are now in leadership positions in their countries, including the president of the Central Bank of Latvia, a deputy minister in Georgia, and numerous serving in diplomatic positions or elsewhere in government or international business. TFAS alumni are contrib­uting articles to foreign policy journals, covering breaking news throughout the world, and participating in democracy-building initiatives and conflict resolution programs.
  • Topic: Education, Intellectual History, Higher Education
  • Political Geography: United States, North America