Organizing politics in the Arab world : state-society relations and foreign policy choices in Jordan and Syria

Abstract

Why do some regimes enjoy more autonomy than others when taking foreign policy and alignment choices? How does the organization of state-society relations constrain or enable a regime's freedom to take foreign policy and alignment choices? What explains the overlap between the domestic and external security spheres of some states, but not others? Finally, how do the foreign policy and alignment choices of some regimes have domestic political origins, uses, and implications?This study explores these theoretical questions through a comparative examination of the impact of the organization of state-society relations (the independent variable) on regime autonomy in taking foreign policy and alignment choices (the dependent variable) in King Hussein's Jordan and Hafiz al-Asad's Syria. In contrast to Jordan's overlapping security terrains, and the domestic political origins, uses, and implications of many of the Hashemite regime's foreign policy and alignment choices, in Asad's Syria these choices are responses to shifts in the external geopolitical environment. This study offers an explanation of the discrepancy between the Syrian regime's ability to ignore domestic constraints on foreign policy and alignment choices, due to its preoccupation with external sources of threat, compared to its Jordanian counterpart's inability to do so and, consequently, its preoccupation on many occasions with strictly domestic sources of threat.This study bridges comparative politics and international relations theorizing, inviting a methodological shift away from the hitherto dominant neorealist tendency in the latter field, which anchors foreign policy and alignment choices in primarily external considerations and objectives. Borrowing from the literature on corporatism, populism, and historical institutionalism, this study also supplies a more rigorous methodology for investigating the relationship between the domestic structures of nondemocratic states and their foreign policy and alignment choices. More than a revision of neorealist theorizing, and in contrast to idiosyncratic, domestic structure, or constructivist approaches to the study of state behavior, this study contends that a contextual and historical analysis of the organization of state-society relations explains why regime autonomy to take foreign policy and alignment choices may be constrained in some states but not in others. Furthermore, and against neorealism's insistence on the external origins of foreign policy and alignment choices, this study also argues that on many occasions these choices have domestic political origins, uses, and implications. The implications of these conclusions on the study of Arab politics, and on the quest for a first-cut theory of state behavior, are also assessed

Similar works

Full text

thumbnail-image

eScholarship@McGill

Full text is not available
oai:digitool.library.mcgill.ca:36789Last time updated on 6/16/2016

This paper was published in eScholarship@McGill.

Having an issue?

Is data on this page outdated, violates copyrights or anything else? Report the problem now and we will take corresponding actions after reviewing your request.

We use cookies to improve our website.

Learn more