The Causes and Effects of Foreign Policy Decision Making: An Analysis of Jordanian Peace with Israel
Cunningham, Karla J., World Affairs
In this article, I analyze the interaction between domestic political actors and events and Jordanian regional foreign policy, specifically with respect to the 1994 Jordanian Peace Accord with Israel. Profound economic crisis throughout the 1980s, due to the rentier aspects of the Jordanian economy,(1) precipitated the regime's political response of "managed liberalization" in 1989, which resulted in legalized political parties, a freer press, and lifting martial law.(2) The regime's political response to economic crisis amounted to a survival strategy designed to deflect popular attention not only from domestic economic belt-tightening in the wake of International Monetary Fund (IMF) restructuring, but also from the king, freeing him to pursue a peace agreement with Israel to secure Jordanian economic, political, and regional security. As a result of the 1993 Oslo Accord between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), regional resistance to a Jordanian accord was essentially neutralized, allowing the king to pursue Jordanian national security issues, which were twofold: first, to facilitate the infusion of desperately needed capital. in the form of a "peace dividend"; and second, to ensure Jordanian diplomatic status both regionally and internationally in the wake of the 1993 Oslo Accord.
The managed liberalization of the early 1990s facilitated the king's peace negotiations with Israel because it provided the appearance that domestic security challenges had been managed and productively channeled away from the regime.(3) King Hussein had provided the illusion of substantive revision to the traditional state-societal contract, characterized by a quid pro quo wherein the regime distributed economic benefits in exchange for political quiescence: however, in reality the regime continued to explore avenues to restore the status quo because it had ensured that substantive change had not occurred at the official level. Externally, the Gulf War and the 1993 Oslo Accord highlighted important Jordanian security issues in terms of both territorial integrity and regional centrality. The Hashemite regime entered the peace negotiations with Israel from a position of perceived domestic strength but with an obvious understanding that regional factors were likely to expose it to further domestic challenges if Jordan's centrality to the Arab-Israeli crisis were compromised and if it failed to secure external financial assistance to round out its budget. The regime's desire to lessen both internal and external security threats explains the foreign policy agenda. which was defined by peace and normalization of relations with Israel.
The peace process, in combination with the limited political freedoms enjoyed since 1989, has confronted the king with significant political opposition since 1994. The anticipated peace dividend, in the form of external assistance and debt forgiveness (specifically by the United States) and possible increased foreign investment, has not been forthcoming. Instead, broader participation, combined with the 1994 peace accord, has channeled domestic opposition against the regime and has strengthened the Islamic opposition both in the lower house and within civil societal associations more generally. The result has been the effective freezing of managed liberalization and a top-down normalization process that is increasingly pitting the regime against society, with possibly detrimental implications for regional stability.
THE HISTORIC ROLE OF EXTERNAL ACTORS IN JORDAN
The king's decision to enter the peace accord with Israel must be understood in the larger historical, political, economic, and regional dynamics within which it developed. Historically, Jordan has been vulnerable to the impact of external events and actors at the domestic level, because of its geostrategic proximity to the Arab-Israeli crisis, its small size, and its lack of natural resources, with the last factor contributing significantly to the rentier characteristics of its economy. Jordanian foreign policy decisions have been directed toward offsetting its vulnerability to external actors and their ability to instigate or exacerbate internal challenges to the Hashemite monarchy, as occurred in 1956-57 and 1970-71, as well as challenging the territorial integrity of the Jordanian state.(4)
From its earliest beginnings as a state, Jordan has been highly susceptible to internal disruptions caused by external events. Those events have been economic, in the form of the oil boom of the 1970s; political, particularly with respect to the Palestinian issue; and international, due to periodic military confrontations between regional actors and as a result of the cold war and its demise. In the aftermath of Jordan's economic and political crises in 1989, enduring features of the traditional state-societal pattern remained. It is the protection of these patterns by the regime that helps to explain King Hussein's decision to sign the 1994 accord with Israel and undertake a normalization process from above.
Brand (1994) notes that economic variables become a source of foreign policy, rather than simply a factor that constrains its implementation.(5) Leaders make their decisions in the context of evaluating two facets of economic security--national security (externally directed) and regime (leadership) security (internally directed)--and for leaders of developing states, the latter form of security, that of the regime, is normally most significant, as most Third World states do not face significant external threats.
Jordan is an example of an atypical Third World state because of its geographic location, for it has historically confronted external threats both directly (military) and, more significantly, in the form of internal challenges to the survival and stability of the Hashemite monarchy (economic and political). In particular, the 1956-57 and 1970-71 periods dramatically demonstrated how external actors and events could threaten the very core of the regime's security in Jordan. Since that time, the regime has consolidated its hold on power and it confronts security threats, both internal and external, from a very different position than it did in the periods noted. Throughout the 1970s, using foreign assistance, Jordan was able to expand the public sector and gain significant control over society through distribution, cooptation, and coercion. The crises that rocked the regime in 1989, and that continue to confront it, were significant and deep but neither devastating nor revolutionary. The 1989 riots were the first instance in which the people clashed directly with the regime without external provocation;(6) rather, the riots were fueled entirely by internal political and economic motives. However, the source of the crisis retains external dimensions, as it rested on Jordan's rentier economy and its dependence on external sources of financial assistance. While the regime responded to the crisis with managed liberalization, it is not clear that fundamental change has occurred in the political and. more significantly, economic foundations of the state. A significant factor for maintaining this traditional political-economic arrangement resides in external actors and Jordan's relations with them.
FACTORS INFLUENCING JORDANIAN FOREIGN POLICY
Jordan has three general foreign policy goals; first, defense against external threats to its territorial integrity; second, the …
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Publication information: Article title: The Causes and Effects of Foreign Policy Decision Making: An Analysis of Jordanian Peace with Israel. Contributors: Cunningham, Karla J. - Author. Magazine title: World Affairs. Volume: 160. Issue: 4 Publication date: Spring 1998. Page number: 192+. © 1999 Heldref Publications. COPYRIGHT 1998 Gale Group.
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