From the CIAO Atlas Map of Middle East 

email icon Email this citation


Power and Governance : Shaping Foreign Policy in the Middle East

Valérie Marcel

International Studies Association
41st Annual Convention
Los Angeles, CA
March 14-18, 2000

In August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. Jordanians rose in support of this ambitious challenge to the status quo that was strangling them. King Hussein adopted a neutral stance toward the crisis, but took on the role of spokesman for the Iraqi regime. The Syrian and Egyptian governments were upset by the wave of political instability sweeping the region and joined the emerging coalition which was to thwart Saddam Hussein’s ambitions.

Can we purport, as do realists, that such foreign policies are the result of strategic considerations related to state interests? Are they linked to economic or budgetary interests? Or are the pressures of public opinion strangling these governments? Of course, the answer lies with all three explanations — or, to put it differently, they each explain certain phenomena — yet none can do the job alone. An observer of international events will intuitively understand that a foreign policy is the result of multiple considerations and that difficult choices often have to be made. And yet, international relations theory has long refused to consider the complexity of international phenomena. It has attempted to simplify the foreign policy process in order to build an elegant causal theory — and in this respect, realism rules. In this paper, I will present a non-realist theoretical framework of foreign policy making, all the while engaging in a dialogue with the realist paradigm when useful.

In view of dealing with the complexity of political decisions and the challenge of governance in the periphery, this approach calls for a broader conception of national security and focuses on the influence of various political actors in this process. In the hope of contributing to a constructivist theory of international relations, I will put forth what may be called "intuitively obvious" hypotheses pertaining to foreign policy making: national security is a social and political construct; foreign policy is guided by this construct but is shaped in response to political, economic and military constraints that weigh on the decision-making process; a policy exceedingly shaped by these contingencies will merely cope with the most salient constraints and thus reveal state or regime weaknesses.

Here, foreign policy is considered as the result of a struggle between the decision-makers’ goals and constraints. The decision maker’s capacity to further his objectives will be dependent on the means at his disposal and the constraints he faces — such as the relative strength of other political actors trying to influence foreign policy. As a decision-maker is constrained by the demands of political stability, foreign policy will be more reactive, in the sense that it will seek to satisfy the demands of governance rather than state power. Before we elaborate on the details of this framework and its application in concrete situations, let us take a look at the state of the art and problems arising from our current assumptions about international relations.


Changing Our Assumptions

The realist and neorealist paradigms are particularly prevalent in the field of security studies and are therefore the prime targets of other approaches attempting to challenge common assumptions regarding state behavior. This essay will briefly survey the critiques of two of structural realism’s principal tenets: the state viewed as a unitary actor and the separation of the domestic and international levels of analysis.

The postulate of the unitary actor is first to be debunked. Kenneth Waltz, the father of neorealism, had in this regard contended that states are functionally similar units acting within the constraints of an anarchical system. States are viewed as units in a system acting in relation to one another, and this has led to a focus on positional power, that is, in relative (rather than absolute) terms. More fundamentally, Waltz held that the system’s structure determines the behavior of states. 1 Though we must acknowledge that his research was motivated by a legitimate desire to develop a parsimonious and generalizable theory of international relations, the extent to which these assumptions regarding state behavior have permeated mainstream theory justifies a critical analysis of their validity and usefulness.

Let us first point to a paradox in the structural realist theory: on the one hand, it tends to reify the position of the state domestically, since it becomes the supreme and autonomous actor within its borders, while on the other, it denigrates the state as a conceptual variable externally, reducing its behavior to the logic of international anarchy. 2 Externally then, the state is in effect deprived of agency, as it responds to the structure of the system, while internally it acts autonomously, withstanding no pressures from the international system or its society.

New developments in the international arena highlight the inadequacies of such conceptual simplifications. States everywhere increasingly face rival actors whose role is increased as a result of transnational links and commercial interdependence. For instance, non-governmental elites and transnational organizations actively defend their own interests and, with the advanced technological capabilities available to them, have opened numerous channels of communication that are independent from the state. In this changing international arena, Waltz’s description of the system of state does not hold true, and more importantly, such a premise does not help international relations theory understand international phenomena.

Moreover, authors such as Rex Brynen, Steven David and Bahgat Korany have contributed interesting critiques of the application of the concept of a unitary state in periphery cases and point to the permeable nature of a developing state. 3 These new states, often creations of the colonialist era, were brought into existence without consideration for pre-existing social, political or ethnic realities. They are not unitary, autonomous actors because they are vulnerable to domestic and external pressures that may inhibit their capacity to act independently.

Realist hypotheses are also based on the premise that domestic and foreign realms are separate. This postulate serves the object of theoretical parsimony as it excludes from foreign policy making economic, political and socio-cultural pressures emanating from society. However, Third World cases have often illustrated how intertwined are the national and international realms. Developmentalists have offered analyses focusing specifically on problems of domestic political consolidation, economic development and natural resources. These problems are clearly significant enough to influence foreign policy. In this respect, Sayigh argues that we cannot understand the national security of Third World states only through the lens of military security and that we must consider economic, political, societal and environmental concerns. 4

Realism’s greatest challenges may come from its inability to explain the behavior of developing states. In these cases, internal threats must be considered to obtain a clear picture of foreign policy decisions. Regime consolidation can indeed be a more pressing concern than regional or international geostrategic interests. More to the point, international or regional events can increase internal threats to the regime if their society is affected by, and reacts to, external events. Transnational links, economic interdependence, pan Arab or pan Islamic solidarity and popular reactions to foreign intervention in the region all contribute to linking the international and local realms in the Middle East. In such a context, popular policies can help consolidate the authority of the regime and thus contribute to political security. In this regard, if in practice we cannot demarcate domestic and foreign policies, how can we presume foreign policy is guided by a fixed hierarchy of state interests, as would have us imagine realism, in which state survival is the prime objective? By doing so, realism relegates economic and political considerations to the sphere of low politics, to secondary concerns that become relevant only when military security is achieved.

Referring to a world-wide context, numerous studies have pointed to the increased linkage of issues caused by commercial interdependence, and this phenomenon seems to reduce the general capacity of governments to act autonomously on the international scene. The Gulf war has in this sense been a convincing demonstration of linkage between economic and military interests, as American involvement seems to have been motivated in large part by the defense of its economic interests in the Gulf. Clearly, foreign policy is not only shaped by military considerations and many international events can harm the economic, societal or political interests of neighboring countries. As such, the defense of these types of interests can be much more pressing than the defense of their borders against military threats.

Authors such as Steven Walt have offered interesting adaptations of structural realism that account for state behavior in the periphery. He suggests that balancing is done in response to the most threatening power rather than to the greatest power. He also addresses the fact that weak states act differently than do strong states, and consequently that they may bandwagon instead of balance. Walt also acknowledges the importance of ideological compatibility and the promises of economic assistance in the choice of alignment. In the end though, Walt reiterates the importance of military and power-political security considerations in foreign policy making as he concludes that ideological factors and promises of economic assistance (or bribery) cannot determine alignment choices where common security interests do not already exist. 5 Walt’s approach therefore attempts to incorporate low politics into the structural realist framework; but only through the back door, affirming once more the preeminence of geostrategic considerations in shaping foreign policy. Such an approach nuances, but does not threaten, the structural realist assumptions of a unitary actor and a division of the international and domestic realms.


Constructing the Limits of Rationalism?

The realist tendency to abate international complexity is guided by an epistemological foundation that seeks to identify rules of state behavior to elaborate a parsimonious causal theory. The explanation of international phenomena then obscures any information that does not fit in with the postulates of the paradigm. Such information as the domestic situation of states then appears of secondary importance. Instead, I argue that a complex appreciation of the phenomenon is a necessary first step to any academic endeavor.

Such approaches to international studies are termed constructivist. They offer a path opposite to realist positivist rationalism in acknowledging the complexity and diversity of political phenomena. This diversity precludes generalization in human sciences. As Clifford Geertz put it, "...the essential task of theory building here is not codify abstract regularities but to make thick descriptions possible, not to generalize across cases but to generalize within them." 6 In this sense, though a study of Syrian foreign policy may help me approach and understand states with similar political systems or regional configuration, I cannot apply the hypotheses drawn from the Syrian case to others. This conceptual lens must adapt itself to each case, and this process allows one to refine theoretical ideas.

Indeed, the basis of a hermeneutic epistemology of international studies consists in understanding political phenomena, rather than explaining them. Explanation entails revealing a causal chain of events that allows one to find an underlying and universally valid truth. Understanding on the other hand consists in making sense of the event for oneself. To do this, one must be able to penetrate and, in a way, appropriate the horizon of signification in which the actors evolve. To understand their behavior, one must get a sense of what motivates them to act and this cannot be done by applying an abstract model of actor rationality. As Charles Taylor would put it, one tries to arrive at a "fusion of horizons". 7 A researcher cannot bypass the political actor’s representation of the world. In this sense, as an analyst of foreign policy making, I will try to grasp the leadership’s representation of events as a clue to understanding its policy. Such a focus on perception does not mean that material factors (such as the power ratio between two states, for instance) are not a significant part of the analysis. The quest to understand is the epistemological positioning of the research. In this sense, we would allow more complexity into the analysis — such as several levels of analysis, for example — even though this produces a less parsimonious theory.


Security Dilemmas

I would now like to turn to the issue of national security. The use of the concept of national security, as understood by realism, has become extraordinarily pervasive among policy makers and researchers in strategic studies. This concept is based on the premise that the security of the state, the nation and the regime are one and the same. In other words, a national security issue is a threat directed at the regime, the nation and the state as one conceptual unit. These threats emanate from the anarchical nature of the international system and are political-military in nature. According to this perspective, such a threat must be sufficiently important to merit extreme measures, including the use of force. Clearly, this conception of national security needs to be refined and broadened in view of distinguishing regime, nation and state and of considering non-military threats.

Many theorists agree that insecurity may result from political instability, but their attempts to incorporate internal threats stumble on conceptual obstacles. Indeed, the existence of internal threats challenges the idea of national security: first, because it reveals the incapacity of the regime to identify the interests of the nation or the state and second, because these threats bring leaders to protect their own security instead of the state’s or the nation’s. Barry Buzan explains that the concept of national security is more easily applied to strong states in which society and state are more intimately tied than to weak states where domestic and foreign policies tend to be intertwined. 8 The inevitable problem of distinguishing state security from regime security therefore arises. The weaker the state, the more difficult it becomes to identify national security as internal power struggles tend to occupy the security agenda.

Buzan’s theoretical concerns reveal his attachment to the concept of national security, a core element of international relations theory. Though Buzan acknowledges the problems inherent to applying the concept of ‘national security’ in the periphery, he does not, in fact, draw theoretical conclusions from his observations. If the capacity to identify national security depends on state strength (which for Buzan includes political cohesiveness), 9 this implies that in a strong state a voice speaks out to identify and defend national interests. Yet, even in Western nation-states there is no such consensus on national interests or on the scale of their relative importance. Instead, I would argue that there is no necessary coincidence between state and nation, which would allow state institutions to identify the nation’s security needs, moreover between state and leadership, allowing the latter to identify state interests. In this sense, I defend the need for a new conceptualization of national security based on the subjective analysis leaders engage in when determining foreign policy. Here, national security is understood as a social and political construct that does not objectively exist. The identification of national security interests by decision-makers is the result of bargaining and compromise with rival actors. Ole Waever has underscored a similar argument by stating that "securitization" (i.e., the act of including an issue in national security concerns) is in itself political (1995). It is not a neutral description of objective facts, but a decision to elevate a particular problem to a level that legitimizes the use of all means.

A constructivist approach to security studies offers interesting avenues of research, moving beyond the common idea that there are subjective reactions to objective threats. Here security becomes a performative act, where an influential group can acquire the legitimate monopoly of security discourses. It is therefore important to consider who is speaking of security and how they acquired the right to do so.

On this point, however, I would warn against focusing exclusively on the process, ignoring the security object itself. It is certainly important to see who creates the object of security and how it is created, but one cannot overlook the fact that threats have to be explained by these actors and the ensuing reactions justified. Even authoritarian regimes cannot dispense with the necessity of such explanations. The question then becomes "why does the justification make sense?"

Authors such as Didier Bigo would reply that the answer lies in the sociology of the power struggles involved in monopolizing the definition of security. In other words, there is a somewhat self-fulfilling prophecy at work as those who acquire the monopoly are perceived as legitimate spokesmen who can identify the threat. The threat is therefore invented and the process could be characterized as sheer manipulation. The exclusive focus on process would be justified by the fact that there simply is no true object of security: the security agenda is instrumental in fulfilling the elite’s will to power. However, even if one adheres to this premise, the fact remains that reasons have to be given to justify the policy. This constitutes an important constraint on the decision-maker.

We must therefore acknowledge the role of elites in creating the security agenda and the competition involved in this process while accepting that the result is successful because it is a discourse that relates to values important to certain groups within society. It lies outside the scope of this paper to determine whether these values are true or not, but it does seem clear that the actors themselves think in terms of values and that these motivate their actions. Our approach thus falls short of embracing neo-nietzschean subjectivism.



The central aim of this framework is to offer analytical tools appropriate for explaining foreign policy making in the Middle East. We will first take a general look at the framework before examining the details of its operationalization. At the core of this approach is the idea that decision making is a process involving a pursuit of goals that is constrained by the demands of actors inside and outside the state. We are therefore concerned with power and governance.

With respect to power, the leadership attempts to maximize its authority, the stability of the regime, as well as the power resources of the state. The power of the state refers to material capabilities, related to economic and military strength, 10 as well as societal well-being. Indeed, we see that constructivism does not deny the importance of power. However, as Brian Frederking points out, constructivists understand power as more than material capability; it is the authority to determine a community’s shared knowledge, norms and identities and to construct new social rules. 11 Put differently, constructivism is interested in power as the capacity to impose an interpretation of a political event on a community. However, we are more concerned with the dialogue and the interaction that takes place between the leadership and other actors and therefore reject the notion that these interpretations are necessarily imposed on others. Our conception of power is therefore careful to include both material and subjective factors. This explains our focus on power defined not only as strength, but also as authority and stability.

In matters of foreign policy for instance, the leaders’ capacity to formulate an acceptable and legitimate interpretation of national security goals will depend on numerous power factors that are subjective as well as material. The subjective aspects of this process relate to the fact that actors interpret each other’s actions. These interpretations are guided by their own experience as well as values inherited from their community. The leadership’s discourse on security therefore has to make sense to its constituents. Also, how these actors receive the leadership’s interpretation of events depends on its authority and resources.

In this sense, once the leadership has established what its objectives are, a variety of constraints may prevent the pursuit of some of these goals. This is where governance comes in. Few foreign policy options allow leaders to simultaneously maximize their power on all three levels of: 1) leadership, 2) regime and 3) state. Often the power of one level may be sacrificed for another. Decision-makers will often find themselves in a binding situation as opposite demands are placed upon them, creating what I call ‘security dilemmas’. Of course, this definition differs greatly from the classic meaning given by Robert Jervis, referring to the paradox that while preserving its own security a state threatens others. Simply put, security dilemmas here refer to the predicament that emerges when opposing requisites of power and governance are imposed on the decision-makers. For instance, certain domestic political actors may demand a nationalistic stand on a particular foreign policy issue, while the decision-makers may feel that the interests of the national economy (and thus the power of the state) may be better served with a pro-western policy. The decision-makers may have their own goals to achieve through foreign policy, but actors within the state may challenge these goals and push for a new foreign policy agenda.

A process of interaction emerges between societal and external actors, on the one hand, and the leadership on the other. It is a power struggle between them to shape foreign policy to their advantage or in accordance with their beliefs. The more a decision-maker is constrained by the demands of political stability, the more "reactive" foreign policy will be, in the sense that it will seek to satisfy the demands of governance rather than state power. A proactive policy will reveal sources of strength (of the regime and/or the state) in that they allowed the decision makers to seize the opportunities offered by the crisis to consolidate their power.

Let us now take a closer look at the operationalization of this framework. If applied to the case of an international or regional crisis in the Middle East, we should first study the pre-crisis period as this will help us understand how the crisis changed the decision-making environment. We will examine during this period: 1) the means at the disposal of the decision-makers — that is state power, regime stability and the leader’s authority; 2) the decision-makers’ strategic, economic and political goals; and 3) the decision-making mechanism.

In times of crisis, all three factors may fluctuate and, in order to discover the reasons for these changes, we will follow the crisis as it unfolds, cutting the time frame into phases. The choice of crisis phases should correspond to a qualitative change that affected the perception of the leadership’s environment. For example, during the Gulf War, we can see that as the crisis unfolded, the objectives of the US-led coalition became more ambitious: it began with an initial goal of protecting Saudi Arabia, progressing to the goal of liberating Kuwait, then to destroying the military capabilities of Iraq, and finally appeared to aim the removal of Saddam Hussein. Such an escalation is significant if one is studying decision-making in Arab states, as it corresponded to increased popular unease within numerous countries, creating in some cases domestic demands for a pro-Iraqi policy. These goals were stated on a large part on the western side of the coalition and further constrained Arab leaders as they had to position themselves in a manner satisfactory to popular demands. After initial assessment however, other crisis phases may be selected if these do not seem to reveal qualitative changes in the parameters of foreign policy making.

We will then examine how new contingencies arising from the crisis may force the leadership into modifying its policy or its discourse. We will evaluate both how the leadership frames the crisis and how actors within government, society and from abroad react to this framing. Contingencies may be strategic, political or economic in nature and may include such different events as the influx of refugees from the region, financial pressures from creditors, threatening behavior from a neighboring state, or rioting in the streets of the capital, for example. We will study changes in policy or discourse from the period immediately preceding the crisis until the end of the crisis and determine what impelled these changes. If significant policy or discourse changes arise in response to the reactions of the leadership’s power base (domestic forces), this may reveal sources of weakness of the leadership, the regime or the state. 12 For instance, during the Gulf crisis, King Hussein of Jordan adopted a nuanced neutral stance toward Iraq. As the crisis progressed however, Jordan’s foreign policy became more supportive of Iraq. What compelled this change in policy? The answer lies in getting the full view of the impact of political, economic or strategic constraints affecting the decision-making process as well as the leader’s own values, goals and interpretation of events. Though the scope of this paper prevents a full description of this process, it appears that the strong popular reaction to foreign intervention in the crisis and widespread public support for Saddam Hussein constrained the government’s policy during the crisis, pushing it into a reactive foreign policy. 13 In this case, certain weaknesses of the state and the regime prevented the leadership from pursuing a policy that would have been optimal in terms of maximizing the economic and strategic well-being of state and society. Instead, it adopted a policy governed by the demands of political stability that ensured the regime much needed support.

Such a conclusion regarding the reactive nature of a foreign policy in no way implies a judgment on the validity of this decision. In the case of Jordan, for instance, one can argue that this decision served long term interests of political stability and gave the throne a solid footing to stand on before tackling other challenges, such as imposing peace with Israel on its subjects. A reactive policy does however imply that short term interests, such as dealing with instability, are favored to the expense of long term goals, such as economic prosperity or strategic security.

The case of Egypt presents a different but much less acute security dilemma and as such reveals the proactive nature of its policy choice during the Gulf crisis. Indeed, the Egyptian leadership was faced with a serious economic crisis in 1990, as the IMF was getting ready to impose a tough austerity plan, with the situation getting worse as a result of the Iraqi crisis. Can we consider that Hosni Moubarak’s decision to join the Coalition was reactive insofar as this policy sought to quell economic instability? Foreign policies often appear reactive in times of crisis as the leadership must deal with increased pressures and constraints. However, our definition of reactive and proactive refers more precisely to the pursuit of short term versus long term goals. The implication of this definition is that when leaders have more maneuvering space they will favor long term goals. To return to the Egyptian case, we see that the crisis put Egypt in the limelight of the crisis and that Hosni Mubarak seized this opportunity to actually increase his maneuvering space vis-à-vis economic constraints. Indeed, as a result of its pro-Coalition policy, Egypt received substantial loans and credits from (as well as partial cancellations of its debts towards) its allies in the West and the Gulf to help allay the economic costs of the crisis. In addition, and partially as a result of American pressure, the IMF accepted a softening of conditions for the repayment of Egypt’s foreign debt in 1991. 14 The president was therefore able to seize the opportunities of the crisis to increase the state’s material capacities and the well-being of the population, and possibly increase his own prestige in the process. He was a position to do so, first, because of the weak mobilization of the Egyptian population and the stability of the regime, and second, because the demographic, historical and military power of the state increased the leadership’s bargaining position vis-à-vis the Coalition.

In this respect, I believe we will find more proactive policies in the periphery than one might imagine. Many regimes in the Middle East for instance have demonstrated their stability or at least their longevity over decades. Consequently, their governments are often able to gather support, or at least acquiescence, for their policies and thus seek to satisfy longer term objectives. Also many of these regimes ably make use of their security apparatuses to silence their opponents. Where repression is used, there are signs of political instability, but not necessarily sufficient unrest to change a foreign policy orientation. If the policy-makers are not compelled to change their policy in response to public opposition, we may conclude that this political constraint was not strong enough to induce a reactive policy. In such a case, the regime must have benefited from sufficient alternative sources of power. The Syrian case may serve to illustrate this point. During the Gulf crisis there were reports of public demonstrations in support of Iraq (though the extent of this support remains unclear). These demonstrations were apparently severely repressed by the security forces. 15 In spite of this indication of government susceptibility to domestic unrest, there was no softening of the government’s position toward Iraq. An analysis of the government’s discourse did however reveal that extra efforts were produced to convince the population of the validity of the chosen path. Thus, the Syrian leadership was faced with limited constraints and had sufficient power to deal with its constraints effectively. Indeed, the regime was relatively stable, Hafez al-Assad’s authority was strong, and the security apparatus was able to use repression as an ultimate safeguard against "excessive" expressions of public discontent. Yet, if the power relation between the leadership and domestic forces clearly titled in favor of the former, we cannot say that the leadership was unconcerned with domestic opinions. The government’s sustained efforts concerning its discourse on the crisis demonstrate that it wanted to ensure continued acquiescence to its policy.

Based on such a framework, an analysis of foreign policy making in Middle Eastern countries will certainly reveal multiple sources of strength and weakness for these states. In some cases, the strength of one level (or source) of power may compensate for weaknesses at another level. In the Jordanian case, for example, the authority and prestige of the king were strengthened by the Gulf crisis as his neutral stand received strong support domestically. This leader’s authority helped to consolidate the regime’s stability one year after the riots in Ma’an. 16 The decision not to join the Coalition did however entail significant economic costs for the country, thus weakening the state.

Hence, we see that Middle Eastern states, undoubtedly like all states, embody both signs of weakness and strength. Our analysis has suggested that the leadership is less affected by constraints when the sources of strength are more varied — that is, when there is political authority, regime stability and state power. But foreign policies are also complex and imperfect constructs. They are often reformulated as a crisis unfolds and new contingencies affect the opportunities for maximizing power as well as the nature of the constraints.



Realism focuses on model-building rather than content, and on parsimony rather than detail. As A. Georges and R. Smoke have pointed out, realist theories tend to narrow the range of possible options and outcomes to facilitate theorizing. Too often, research in international relations has been centered on potential theoretical contributions without providing adequate empirical data to back up the theoretical assertions. This holds particularly true in the Middle East, which is limited to the role of a testing ground for causal theories of international behavior. I am thinking in particular of monocausal theories that attempt to explain (and even predict) foreign policy decisions while relying on one variable or level of analysis. How can one hope to explain the foreign policy of any Arab state dealing with complex domestic and international environments by focusing only on the structure of the international system or on the regime’s budgetary constraints? Such research can be more constructive if it chooses a non-positivist path and acknowledges that it only seeks to elucidate one facet of decision-making in a specific setting. I do not think the problem is one of these theories being too ambitious, as a the constructivist goal of understanding is also daunting. At issue is the ambition itself. If we accept that the ambitions of explanation and prediction are inappropriate for social sciences, we are then able to turn to the task of understanding complex phenomena with more serenity.



Note 1: Kenneth WALTZ, Theory of International Politics, 1979.  Back.

Note 2: See John M. HOBSON, The wealth of states: A comparative sociology of international economic and political change, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997, p. 274.  Back.

Note 3: Rex BRYNEN, "Palestine and the Arab State System: Permeability, State Consolidation and the Infitah", Canadian Journal of Political Science, XXIV:3 (Sept. 1991); Steven R. DAVID, " Explaining Third World Alignment", World Politics, Vol 43, No 2, 1991; Bahgat KORANY & Ali E. Hillal DESSOUKI, The Foreign Policies of Arab States: The Challenge of Change (2nd edition), (Boulder: Westview Press, 1991), Bahgat KORANY, Gouvernabilité: La dialectique Etat/Société dans le monde arabe, Département des études arabes, Université de Montréal, Montreal, 1990.  Back.

Note 4: Yezid SAYIGH, "Confronting the 1990s", 1990. This approach is often termed "Realism-Plus" as it uses Realist modes of analysis while modifying some of its assumptions.  Back.

Note 5: Stephen M. WALT, "Alliance Formation and the Balance of World Power", International Security (Spring 1985).  Back.

Note 6: Clifford GEERTZ, "Thick Description: Toward an Interpretative Theory of Culture", The Interpretation of Cultures, New York: Basic Books, 1973, p. 26.  Back.

Note 7: Charles TAYLOR, "Understanding and Ethnocentricity", Philosophical Papers II (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), p. 126.  Back.

Note 8: Barry BUZAN, People, States and Fear: An Agenda for International Security Studies in the Post-Cold War Era, 2nd edition, Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991, p. 103-105.  Back.

Note 9: In Buzan’s work, the distinction between political cohesiveness and democracy is not clear (Buzan: 1991).  Back.

Note 10: State power would also include favoring existing alliances or forging new ones.  Back.

Note 11: Brian Frederking. Resolving Security Dilemmas; A constructivist explanation of the INF Treaty, Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999, p. 11.  Back.

Note 12: Changes in discourse are also significant because they reveal constraints on decision-making. Such changes do however suggest that cosmetic modifications to the policy were a sufficient response to these constraints. The security dilemma is in this case less acute than in cases where the policy is fundamentally modified.  Back.

Note 13: The foreign policies of Jordan, Egypt and Syria during the Gulf war have been studied in greater detail using this framework. The results will be contribute to the author’s PhD thesis to be completed in September 2000. The analysis of these three cases was based on the following sources : news transcripts, leaders’ and ministers’ speeches and press conferences (from July 1990 until March 1991), and interviews with decision-makers and intellectuals from these three countries (between 1998 and 2000).  Back.

Note 14: Michel CHATELUS. "Adjustment and Insecurity in Arab Economies",.in KORANY, NOBLE, BRYNEN (eds.). The Many Faces of National Security in the Arab World, p. 163.  Back.

Note 15: The Associated Press. International News, August 29, 1990.  Back.

Note 16: Widespread rioting erupted in Ma’an on 18 April 1989. These events contributed to the initiation of a democratization process in Jordan shortly thereafter.  Back.