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The Best Theory that Explains Foreign Policy Formation in the Middle East

The Best Theory that Explains Foreign Policy Formation in the Middle East

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards (International Programme) Competition by Zeynep Kosereisoglu. Originally submitted for International Relations fo the Middle East at University of St. Andrews, with lecturer Raymond Hinnebusch in the category of International Relations & Politics
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards (International Programme) Competition by Zeynep Kosereisoglu. Originally submitted for International Relations fo the Middle East at University of St. Andrews, with lecturer Raymond Hinnebusch in the category of International Relations & Politics

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
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10/27/2013

 
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Question: Does any one IR theory best explain the Middle East? If so,show how it accounts for everything important and illustrate withcase studies. Alternatively construct an eclectic frameworkcombining two or more approaches. Illustrate its utility by referenceto concrete issues and cases.Word Count: 5492
 
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Abstract
The process of foreign policy construction in the Middle East is influenced by manyfactors. Not one theory can explain everything important in the Middle East
 – 
which,in this essay will exclude Israel and include Turkey and Iran. However, the uniqueversion of the
structuralist 
approach presented here, incorporates these differentvariables and proposes to analyze the region through an all - inclusive relationshippattern.The understanding of structuralism in the essay focuses on the work of JohanGaltung, underlying the many different levels of dependency relations establishedbetween the Middle East and the Western world. His understanding allows us to notonly recognize the conventional forms of dependency such as economic, security andpolitical dependencies, but also to acknowledge the less obvious forms such ascultural and opposition dependencies. By looking at the numerous ways in which theMiddle Eastern countries are dependent on the Western world, many of theunderlying trends in foreign policy making in the region can be explained. Thisbroadened version of Structuralism is an exceptionally useful theory because it
doesn‟t determine or necessitate a specific type of foreign
policy. Such determinationsare rarely accurate and effective. Moreover, Structuralism not only describes theconstraints on the foreign policies of the Middle Eastern states, but also explainsradical and revisionist foreign policies of certain countries.The essay recognizes that each country in the Middle East has numerous dependencyrelations with the West. However, for the purpose of deeper analysis, the essay usesTurkey to show a case in which security dependency is the main concern. Egypt isused to demonstrate the effects of economic dependency on foreign policy making.The essay then moves on to the less conventional forms of dependency and aims toshow how even the opposition movements in many countries of the Middle East arealso dependent on foreign countries. Lastly, the essay will look at Iran to portray howStructuralism is useful in also accounting for revisionist and radical foreign policies,which are aimed at ending the dependency relations between the country in questionand the West.The links that have been established since the end of the 19
th
century between theMiddle East and the Western world, have not only determined the foreign policyorientations of states, but also had an important impact on the cultural and ideologicaldevelopments in the Middle East. Therefore, if the structuralist theory can beextended to not only focus on the security, economic and political dependencies of thecountries, but also on the cultural and thus oppositional dependencies, it cansuccessfully acc
ount for most of “everything important” in the Middle East.
 
 
 3
The process of foreign policy construction in the Middle East (ME) is influenced bymany factors. Not one theory can explain everything important in the ME
 – 
which, inthis essay will exclude Israel and include Turkey and Iran -. However, the uniqueversion of the structuralist approach presented here, incorporates these differentvariables and proposes to analyze the region through an all - inclusive relationshippattern.In regards to the ME, the concept of dependency central to structuralism, refers to thecomplex relationship pattern that was set in the late 19
th
and 20
th
centuries. The stateformation process of this period, formed and consolidated a structure of dependencythat continues to exist - in different ways
 – 
to this day. Dependency is a complexconcept;
it “
is a contextual situation defined by both domestic and international
variables.”
1
Johan Galtung not only divides the world into center and periphery states,but also the internal make up of the nation into a center and a periphery. Thedependency comes into play in forms of 
“asymmetric interaction” and/or “exploitation”
 
when the interests of the two types of states don‟t coincide.
Thisexplains mainly the economic and security dependency of the Middle Eastern stateson the Western ones. Furthermore,
“the periphery nation is tied to the center nation…
through the creation of a small center in the periphery nation
2
aligning the interestsof the core and periphery state. This accounts for the existence of elites in ME states
“whose interests and perspectives so resemble those of their American counterpartsthat a broad consensus on major issues… develops between them.”
3
Thus, their stakein the status quo allows them to reinforce the already existing dependency.Due to the origins of the structuralist theory, the majority of academic literaturefocuses on
economic
dependency. The process that started with the Europeanpenetration of the Ottoman Empire, due to the trade concessions and the autonomy of foreigners inside these states, has limited their position in the global market toprimary products. On the other hand, the oil rich countries have given such
concessions to Western oil companies, that “never in modern times have governments
1
 Jeanne A. K. Hey. Foreign Policy in Dependent States. 1995, p. 204 
2
Johan Galtung, A Structural Theory of Imperialism. 1971, p. 83
3
 Bruce E. Moon,Consensus or Compliance? Foreign-Policy Change and External Dependence. 1985,p. 304

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