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Literati is pleased to be the bookseller for Steven Koltai's visit to the William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan. Steven is the author of Peace through Entrepreneurship: Investing in a Startup Culture for Security and Development.
The combined weight of American diplomacy and military power cannot end unrest and extremism in the Middle East and other troubled regions of the world, Steven Koltai argues. Could an alternative approach work? Koltai says yes: by investing in entrepreneurship, and reaping the benefits of the jobs created through entrepreneurial startups. From 9/11 and the Arab Spring to the self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate, instability and terror breed where young men cannot find jobs. Koltai marshals evidence to show that joblessness — not religious or cultural conflict — is the root cause of the unrest that vexes American foreign policy and threatens international security.
Drawing on Koltai’s stint as Senior Adviser for Entrepreneurship in Secretary Hillary Clinton’s State Department, and his thirty-year career as a successful entrepreneur and business executive, Peace through Entrepreneurship argues for the significant elevation of entrepreneurship in the service of foreign policy. This entrepreneurship is not rural microfinance or mercantile trading. It is the scalable stuff of Silicon Valley and Sam Walton, generating the vast majority of new jobs in economies large and small.
Peace through Entrepreneurship offers a nonmilitary, long-term solution at a time of disillusionment with Washington’s “big development” approach to unstable and underdeveloped parts of the world — and when the new normal is fear of terrorist attacks against Western targets, beheadings in Syria, and jihad. Extremism will not be resolved by a war on terror. The answer, Koltai shows, is stimulating economic opportunities for the virtually limitless supply of desperate, unemployed young men and women leading lives of endless economic frustration. Those opportunities will come through entrepreneurship.
Steven R. Koltai is a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and managing director of the entrepreneurship consultancy Koltai and Co. LLC. He is a successful entrepreneur in the telecommunications and event management industries, and from 2009–11 served as Senior Advisor for Entrepreneurship under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.