State Interests and Public Spheres: The International Politics of Jordan's Identity

State Interests and Public Spheres: The International Politics of Jordan's Identity

State Interests and Public Spheres: The International Politics of Jordan's Identity

State Interests and Public Spheres: The International Politics of Jordan's Identity

Synopsis

This study employs contemporary Jordan as the model for the changing dynamics of the Arab regional system. Going beyond regime- and state-centered models, the author emphasizes the print media as a barometer of public opinion - one that effects the decisions of political leaders.

Excerpt

On February 7, 1999, Hussein ibn Talal died after 46 years on the throne of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. in the eyes of many observers, his passing marked not only the end of an era, but potentially also the end of Jordan. Viewing Jordanian politics through the prism of one extraordinary man, they could not envision a Jordan without him. While Hussein was certainly central to the Jordanian political system, Jordan is not and has never been reducible to one man. This book, written before the King’s death, focuses on the interplay of the regime’s preferences and the identities and interests articulated by important segments of Jordanian society. the emergence of a Jordanian public sphere in the 1990s, which allowed these actors to express and argue for their conceptions of Jordan, and the monarchy’s struggle to maintain its freedom of maneuver, produced a far more complex and intriguing political situation than was often appreciated. I argue that a clear and powerful Jordanian national identity has emerged, locating Jordanian interests firmly on the East Bank and precluding a return to the West Bank. I also argue that the failure to embed the peace treaty with Israel in a domestic consensus renders it less stable than the strategic logic and presumed shared interests behind it might suggest. the passing of Hussein from the scene and the ascension to the throne of his son, Abdullah, offers both an opportunity and a danger for the Jordanian public. It also highlights the significance of the political and public dynamics discussed in this book. An inexperienced King, dependent on external supporters and most comfortable with military interests, might move to re-

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