Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
Commentary
7/11/2005
06:54 PM
Paul McDougall
Paul McDougall
Commentary
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Offshore Outsourcing Can Help Win War on Terror

Last week's bombing of London's transportation system shows that the war on terror continues and that ultimate victory requires long term commitment and a long term plan. In addition to military tactics, the strategy needs to include political and economic weapons--like offshore outsourcing.

Last week's bombing of London's transportation system shows that the war on terror continues and that ultimate victory requires long term commitment and a long term plan. In addition to military tactics, the strategy needs to include political and economic weapons--like offshore outsourcing.The successful introduction of democracy to Iraq highlights what can be accomplished on the political front. Iraqis are embracing representative government and are providing inspiration for other Arab populations currently suffering under dictatorships.

On the economic front, offshore outsourcing has a big role to play. Al-Qaeda's nihilist vision plays best with young, disenfranchised Arab males in places like the slums south of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia and Sadr City in Iraq, as well as other impoverished parts of the Muslim world. Many have little economic hope, are socially isolated and are thus susceptible to the insane ramblings of the Bin Ladens and the Al-Zarqawis. Hitler gained traction in 1930s Germany for the same reasons.

So where does outsourcing come in? If students in emerging countries have real opportunities--say, in IT--they are likely to spend more time training for such careers and less time learning how to make bombs as pawns of radical Imams and other demagogues who, for their own purposes, prey upon the weak and the hopeless--offering promises of eternal happiness if you'll just please blow yourself and a few hundred Westerners to smithereens.

Ultimately, the war on terror will be won when despotism is replaced by democracy in places like Saudi Arabia, Iran and North Korea. But freedom must also be accompanied by opportunity. By farming out moderate amounts of commodity IT work to developing regions, American multinationals are helping to provide that opportunity by giving young people around the world a stake in the global economy. (This isn't why they are doing it, but it is a helpful side effect).

As the New York Times' Thomas Friedman has pointed out, no two countries that are part of Dell's supply chain have gone to war with each other--they're to busy snapping in motherboards and raking in cash. In the end, jobs trump jihad.

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