Iranâ€™s nuclear program presents a threat to international stability.Â Yet successive American administrationsâ€”Republican and Democratic alikeâ€”have misread the intentions and actions of the Iranian regime.
How dangerous is a nuclear Iran, even if it never detonates a weapon?Â What are the guiding principles of the Iranian leadership?Â To what lengths would the regime go to carry out its agenda?Â How far have Iranâ€™s leaders already gone to fund the worldâ€™s most powerful terrorist organizations?Â And why have American leaders failed to gain the upper hand in relations with Iran during the past 30 years?
In approximately 60 minutes, Iranium powerfully reports on the many aspects of the threat America and the world now face using rarely-before seen footage of Iranian leaders, and interviews with 25 leading politicians, Iranian dissidents, and experts on: Middle East policy, terrorism, and nuclear proliferation.
- Iranium documents the development of Iranâ€™s nuclear threat, beginning with the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the ideology installed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini.
- Iranium tracks Iranâ€™s use of terror as a tool of policy, beginning with the 444 day seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, through Iranâ€™s insurgent actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- Iranium details the brutal nature of the Iranian regime to its own citizens, and the Iranian peopleâ€™s desire to rejoin the international community.
- Iranium outlines the various scenarios the greater Middle East and the Western world may face should Iran cross the nuclear threshold.
and the trucks are already rolling in. Each of the open roof vehicles is packed standing room only with young women in their late teens and early twenties, their faces covered against the dust and exhaust fumes. One by one, the trucks pull up by the side of the road and the women wend their way past the food stalls and through the gates of their factory for their morning shift.
This scene on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, can be seen across the country. The women, mostly from the countryside, account for around 90% of the nation’s 650,000 garment workers who are at the vanguard of what has been described as an economic transformation cheap jerseys from china one that has gone by almost unheralded. In just 20 years, Cambodia has transformed from a post conflict, aid dependent, least developed country to a dynamic economy with the fastest pace of GDP growth in East Asia.
“Hun Sen’s Cambodia,” writes Sebastian Strangio in his eponymously titled book, “has come full circle, from battlefield to marketplace: Today it is one of the most open economies in Asia, where starting a business is relatively easy and foreign owned firms can operate without a local partner. Cheap labor, untapped markets and open economic policies have attracted huge inflows of foreign investment from China, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand.”
According to a report from the Cambodian Development Resource Institute, between 1995 and 2012 economic growth averaged 7.9% and per capita income increased from $248 to $878. GDP growth for this year on the back of strong performance in garment manufacturing, tourism, construction and agriculture is expected to reach 7.3%. This puts Cambodia ahead of its neighbors in Southeast Asia. The latest ANZ Asia Pacific Economics report describes Cambodia as “the only country that has been able to grow its exports at a faster pace in the post crisis period [2007 2008].”
Economic prosperity is showing up in socio economic indicators such as the poverty rate, which has been halved, improvements in primary school enrollment, and reduced infant mortality. Corruption, clientelism, social inequality and poor infrastructure remain, but the overall picture is brighter than it has been for four decades.
“All these high rise buildings, the modern stores, these parks you see outside none of this was here 20 years ago.” Sciaroni
Eric Sidgwick, country director for the Asian Development Bank (ADB), says: “In a nutshell, it’s been quite remarkable. If you measure growth rates and headcount poverty reduction, and if you add to that the maintenance of macro stability through the crisis of 2008 2009, these are all pretty good achievements.”
Looking ahead, Cambodia is forecast to move from a low income to lower middle income country within a decade. The ANZ Royal Bank business confidence index survey reports “unwavering confidence” in Cambodia’s economic growth and business climate. By the time the Vietnamese army overthrew the Khmer Rouge in January 1979, between 1.5 and two million people a quarter of the population at the time had perished. The country was reduced to destitution. For a decade, Vietnam ruled Cambodia by proxy, through local rulers loyal to the communist party. In September 1989, impoverished by Western economic embargo and isolated after the breakup of the Soviet Union, its ideological ally and patron, Vietnam withdrew.
Given the chance to govern on their own and with the help of the international community through billions of aid and a UN supervised election, the Cambodian political class, through trials and errors, managed to cast off the trappings of a planned economy and adopt a free and open market.
Brett Sciaroni, head of a legal and investment advisory firm and chair of the American Chamber of Commerce of Cambodia, was there when the transformation took place. “They’ve come a long way in a short period of time, and only someone who was here at the start of the journey can appreciate how far they have come.
Before he came to Phnom Penh in 1993, Sciaroni was a lawyer working in the Reagan administration. The Cambodian government, he says, was looking for an American lawyer to shake things up. “When I arrived here, this was really the Wild West. wholesale jerseys Every cop on the street corner had an AK 47. cheap nfl jerseys china There were pillboxes on the main boulevard, tanks on the street. It was a different country.”
According to Sciaroni, who continues to work as an adviser to the government, from the very beginning it created a legal and regulatory framework, which encouraged free enterprise. “They had to do something to attract foreigners and foreign investment. They didn’t have the capital, they didn’t have the know how. The Khmer Rouge either drove out or killed all the educated class, so human resources were totally lacking.”
In October 2004, Cambodia was admitted into the World Trade Organization (WTO). This event, many contend, was a pivotal moment for the country. “WTO was really critical because it gave the Cambodian government a checklist to go through; to implement the laws, the sub decrees, etc. It was a step forward because it gave Cambodia an agenda to work towards,” says Sciaroni. I cannot think of anybody else. He’s a fervent believer in market freedom.”
“Cambodia has done well [with its] labor intensive model but it needs to shift into a more skilled labor model.” Sidgwick
Siphana, a practicing lawyer who studied in the United States, witnessed Cambodia’s transition firsthand. He was a teenager when Phnom Penh fell to the Khmer Rouge on April 17, 1975. He tells a tragic but familiar tale of families torn apart, adults and children sent to hard labor, starvation, post war reunion and rebuilding life from scratch. Siphana likens his country to a person who has been released from prison. “Can you imagine the joy, the desire to catch up, the willingness to work hard, to catch up on what we missed out on? We had nothing: zero base, infrastructure destroyed, social fabric wholesale jerseys china destroyed.”
Apart from the psychological incentive to catch up, Siphana credits Hun Sen for providing the environment for free enterprise to take hold. “It’s important to recognize that in Cambodian history, periods of peace, stability and development have tended to be correlated with periods with strong, decisive leadership, when the concentration of power rests with one individual,” says Strangio. “And so in that sense, this is the main achievement that the [Cambodian People's Party] can claim over the last 20 years that they brought significant, sustained periods of economic growth to Cambodia.”
It’sSaturdaynight in Aeon Mall and Phnom Penh’s shopaholics are out in force. In the atrium of this Japanese owned shopping center, young couples and modern nuclear families move between gleaming new Range Rovers and Jaguars on display. The prices range from $105,000 to $237,000. A ‘sold’ sign is stuck on one of the car windows. In a country where the monthly salary for garment workers is $120, this kind of money seems incredible, if not surreal. Yet, on the streets outside the shopping center, high end luxury cars are everywhere to be seen.
“The signs of prosperity can be seen from the number of cars on the road. Traffic has become a very big part of everyday living,” says David Sok Dara Marshall, an executive from the ANZ Royal Bank (a subsidiary of the Australian and New Zealand Banking Group). “A middle class lifestyle is emerging; people are taking more care [about what] they wear, they are buying kitchen appliances, durable goods, refrigeration, electronic devices.”
Marshall, who is head of his bank multinational corporates and financial institutions group, notes that the changes have been pronounced even in the banking sector. “When I first started working in the industry 10 years ago, there were no ATMs, no Internet banking. Cambodia was a cash society. Today, there’s an ATM almost on every corner in Phnom Penh.”
He believes this trend is set to continue. “Cambodia still has a young population more than 50% of the population is under 30. Youth brings innovation, energy, the desire to learn and consume. It’s a very entrepreneurial society. Cambodians often
leave a formal institution and set up their own business.”
Siphana notes that at times of global economic uncertainty “many countries withdraw into a form of smokescreen protectionism.” To sustain economic growth, he says, “Cambodia needs to maintain openness and economic freedom [and] provide a space for new young entrepreneurs, new young bureaucrats, new young businessmen to grow. I believe the role of the state is important if they just facilitate the environment for doing business.”
ADB’s Sidgwick, who has worked at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in the region for a decade, expresses cautious optimism.”Cambodia has done well [with its] labor intensive model, but it needs to shift into a more skilled labor model.
“We are a gateway as much as Vietnam or Thailand is a gateway to ASEAN.” Siphana
“The government has recognized the problem and is working to address it,” Sidgwick continues. “It has just come out with something it calls the Industrial Development Policy, which sounds very state driven but is state lite. They want to encourage certain sectors, to improve the regulatory environment and the conditions for those sectors to grow, and those areas that will help diversify the products and the markets and help improve productivity.”Articles ConnexesďĽš