The structural changes of the Middle East region’s international system present many concerns in varying extents for the re-establishment of order and justice. The root of these problems comes from the means in which the states of the Middle East were organized, the speed of its modernization, and the international system’s overall effects on the ways of interaction among these states. Before the Ottoman Empire collapse, the Middle East had no states system.
The European influence that replaces the Ottomans had little to no institution-building and with this; they were left unequipped to handle the realism of modernization. Nowadays, the states of the Middle East, in part, confront the main challenges because of the way they were made. In the first place, their boundaries were influenced and controlled by the European colonial powers, lacking sympathy to the people living within the territories. This led to dissonant admixtures of ethnic and tribal groups and sometimes, the division of like from like into different states.
Where countries were divided by arbitrary lines marked on the maps by English and French, irredentist conflict rose for groups attempting to recognize their national ambitions through the birth of new states. The composition of the Middle East has not been a good foundation upon which to develop speedily. Since their independence from the colonial powers in the twentieth century, the international system has forced the Middle Eastern states into an accelerated way of modernization. They have had to adjust rapidly to a progressively interdependent world that has been set and headed by the Western countries.
But then, Western states have had enough years during which to change for modernization, develop institutions and fuse their national identities. But not so in the Middle East where the outcomes of extremely rapid modernization have been deadly as was distressingly evident in the failed states of Lebanon and Iraq where it led to random clusters of ethnic groups lacking the required institutionalization to lead effectively. According to Huntington, “In a modernizing state political organization means party organization”.
1 Democracy was not originated in the Middle East. It progressed over thousands of years in the West dating back to ancient Greece. Turkey and Israel are only two functional democracies in the Middle East. What’s left of the Middle Eastern states are oligarchies and monarchies which serve the interests of the class and at the same time deny the others enough representation for their concerns. It is true that in the Middle East, mass praetorianism is commonplace; Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine are all perceived as the ultimate contemporary examples. As Huntington writes,
“Praetorian societies…are caught in a vicious circle. In its simpler forms the praetorian society lacks community and this obstructs the development of political institutions. In its more complicated forms, the lack of effective political institutions obstructs the development of community. As a result, strong tendencies exist in a praetorian society encouraging it to remain in that condition. Attitudes and behavior patterns, once developed, tend to remain and to repeat themselves. Praetorian politics becomes embedded in the culture of the society”.
1 Electoral competition gives an opening for social forces to be used into the system instead of opposing it. In the Praetorian states of the Middle East, there has not been enough institutionalization with which to make this possible. The United States’ expectation that a “free” Iraqi nation would receive liberal democracy failed to remember that there was no nation in Iraq yet. In Israel and Palestine, groups who are competing attempt to introduce a state on the same ground and in the process justify their claims by means of their religion.
The impacts of the contradictory hopes that West powers made to Arabs and Jews earlier in the twentieth century remain to have a long continuing effect because of the third-image anarchy of the Middle Eastern state organization. In Palestine, the political leaders are ineffective and unable to do something to stop the acts of violence for reasons that the entire society has been deprived of their rights and exist in a state of mass praetorianism. Indeed, there is no international society in the Middle East that can mediate competing interests.
According to Bull, an international society “exists when a group of states, conscious of certain common interests and common values, form a society in the sense that they conceive themselves to be bound by a common set of rules in their relations with one another, and share in the working of common institutions”. 3 If an imperfectly formed international society exists anywhere in the Middle East, chances are, it might be observed among the oil-producing nations that cooperate with one another in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and more particularly in the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC).
Still, these oil-producing nations are only bound with the business of selling the oil rather than with the justice claims of the Palestinians. In places like Lebanon, Israel and Palestine, there’s just no sense of unifying interests or values. State and non state players may intercommunicate, trade and envoys but they are definitely inadequate to build institutions with which to address the concerns of justice and order. And there wasn’t enough willingness on the part of the people to do so. NOTES 1. Huntington, Samuel.
“Political Order in Changing Societies. ” Yale University Press (1969). 2. Spero, Joan, and Jeffrey Hart. “The Politics of International Economic Relations ” Thompson Wadsworth (2003). 3. Bull, Hedley. . “The Anarchical Society. ” Columbia Press University (1977). Bibliography The Cold War as an International System 2006, accessed January 12, 2009 http://history. sandiego. edu/gen/20th/coldwar0. html. Benjamin, Cohen. “The International Monetary System: Diffusion and Ambiguity. ” International Affairs 84, no. 3 (2008): 485-498.
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