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The Middle East as a Subordinate International System*

  • Leonard Binder (a1)

Recent developments in the study of international politics reflect two major emphases. One comprises a variety of attempts at systematization and stresses the “frame of reference” approach; the other seeks specific knowledge of national policies in greater detail and stresses the “area studies” approach. Theoretically, the first explains international politics in terms of broad generalizations applicable to all international actors insofar as they conform to an ideal model or depart therefrom in a calculable manner. The second seeks to understand international politics in terms of the relationship of foreign policy to the total social and historical context from which it emerges. This article is an attempt to find a middle ground between these two emphases.

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1 For a discussion of some of the issues involved, see Sondermann, Fred A., “The Study of International Relations,” World Politics, x, No. 1 (October 1957), p. 102; and Thompson, Kenneth W., “Toward a New Theory of International Relations,” American Political Science Review, XLIX, No. 3 (September 1955), pp. 733–46.

2 Despite Sondermann's views, it seems to me that a strong rationale for this approach is presented in Haas, Ernst B. and Whiting, Allen S., The Dynamics of International Relations, New York, 1956.

3 To be distinguished from Sondermann's “freight car” category.

4 Especially Morgenthau, Hans J., Politics Among Nations, New York, 1948.

5 Especially and most recendy, Kaplan, Morton A., System and Process in International Relations, New York, 1957.

6 See Reitzel, William, Kaplan, Morton A., and Coblenz, Constance G., United States Foreign Policy, 1945–1955, Washington, D.C., 1956, especially Ch. XVI.

7 See Kaplan, , op.cit., p. 40 (the fourth “condition”).

8 This is similar to Kaplan's “tight bipolar system,” ibid., pp. 43f

9 Similar to, but not quite the same as, Kaplan's “loose bipolar system,” ibid., p. 36.

10 Ibid., p. 40 (the fifth “condition”).

11 The final alternative contradicts Kaplan's fifth condition cited above, as well as his rules 7, 9, and 10, ibid., pp. 38–39. This difference is an additional reason for the present writer's preference for the concept of subordinate systems to that of “loose” bipolarity.

12 Laqueur, Walter Z., Communism and Nationalism in the Middle East, New York, 1956, pp. 260f.

13 Speiser, E. A., The United States and the Near East, rev. ed., Cambridge, Mass., 1950.

14 E.g., Pravda of March 8, 1955, cited in Committee on Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, Events in the Middle East, Washington, D.C., 1957, p. 9.

15 See Wint, Guy and Calvocoressi, Peter, Middle East Crisis, Penguin Special, 1957, pp. 5253.

16 Jordan, Re: Department of State, US Policy in the Middle East, September 1956-June 1957 (Documents), p. 69, “News Conference of Secretary of State Dulles, April 23, 1957.” See also note 63, ibid. On April 30, 1957, six US naval vessels of an amphibious force visited Beirut: “Developments of the Quarter,” Middle East Journal, XI, No. 3 (Summer 1957), p. 286. Re Syria: see New York Times, August 17, 1957, et seq., especially August 21 dispatch by D. A. Schmidt, “… the US by itself cannot do anything. … It is up to the governments of the Middle East …” (p. 1 in nearly all cases).

17 The British government still insists that the treaty is valid.

18 The latest reaffirmation of the Tri-partite Declaration stressed its applicability to the Israeli-Arab dispute only; Department of State, op.cit., p. 65, “News Conference Statement by President Eisenhower, April 17, 1957.”

19 New York Times, August 23, 1957, p. 1, dispatch from Washington by D. A. Schmidt, in which the term “isolation of Syria” is used. “Quarantine” was the revised version of this slogan.

20 Wint and Calvocoressi, , op.cit., p. 69.

21 “Prolegomena to the Comparative Study of Middle East Governments,” American Political Science Review, LI, No. 3 (September 1957), pp. 651–52.

22 “United States Aid to the Middle East, 1945–1957,” Middle Eastern Affairs, VIII, No, 11 (November 1957), pp. 385f.

23 Nuseibeh, H. Z., The Ideas of Arab Nationalism, Ithaca, N.Y., 1956, pp. 84f.

24 See Rustow, Dankwart A., Politics and Westernization in the Near East, Princeton, N.J., Center of International Studies, 1956.

25 See Kahin, George McT., Pauker, Guy J., and Pye, Lucian W., “Comparative Politics of Non-Western Countries,” American Political Science Review, XLIX, NO. 4 (December 1955). pp. 1024–27.

26 E.g., Egyptian-Syrian-Saudi Joint Command announced March 6, 1955; Five-Year Egyptian-Saudi Defense Treaty announced October 27, 1955; Jordan-Saudi-Syrian-Egyptian “Unified Frontier” plan announced March 23, 1956; Egyptian-Saudi-Yemeni Five-Year Defense Pact announced April 21, 1956; Lebanese-Jordanian co-ordinated Defense Pact announced May 21, 1956; similar Jordanian-Syrian arrangement of May 31, 1956; and the Egyptian-Saudi-Syrian agreement of January 19, 1957, to subsidize Jordan.

* Editor's Note: This article was written prior to the formation in February 1958 of the United Arab Republic and the Arab Federation. The author has appended a brief discussion of these developments in the light of his analysis of the Middle Eastern international system.

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World Politics
  • ISSN: 0043-8871
  • EISSN: 1086-3338
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