Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Arabian Gulf -- Oil Monarchies: Domestic and Security Challenges in the Arab Gulf States by F. Gregory Gause III

Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Arabian Gulf -- Oil Monarchies: Domestic and Security Challenges in the Arab Gulf States by F. Gregory Gause III

Article excerpt

Oil Monarchies: Domestic and Security Challenges in the Arab Gulf States, by F. Gregory Gause III. New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1994. xv + 199 pages. Notes to p. 216. Gloss. to p. 219. Bibl. to p. 228. Index to p. 236. $16.95 paper.

It is refreshing to find a book that fills an important niche in the area of Arab Gulf studies that has not been filled adequately for at least two decades. There have been a few recent, noteworthy books that examine specific countries in the region, but no British, American, or Canadian publications have done a thorough job of looking at the Gulf as a whole, nor, in particular, at the subtleties of the political landscape in this region.(1)

F. Gregory Gause III, a professor at Columbia University, is one of a new breed of academics specializing in the Gulf in an era of dramatic change and increasing accessibility for scholars traveling to the region. Based on his considerable knowledge of the Gulf and more than sixty interviews conducted during two visits to the area while he was a Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Gause's new book, Oil Monarchies, adds to our understanding of the unique forms of political participation that are emerging in the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates).

One of the key purposes of this book is to dispel some of the conventional wisdom regarding the Gulf, which assumes that these oil monarchies are traditional, tribal societies with little or a no regard for modern, democratic, political institutions. At the same time, Gause is not an apologist. A second purpose is to convey a better understanding of the domestic political environment in the region to academics and current and future policy-makers in the hope of preventing some of the mistakes that have been made in the past in foreign policy crises, such as the Iranian Revolution and subsequent hostage debacle.

To his credit, Gause elected to divide the book up thematically rather than by country. This was a wise choice, since much of what happens in each of these monarchies must be viewed in a regional context. He includes chapters on Islam and tribalism, oil, political participation, foreign and defense policies, future challenges, and, finally, US-Gulf relations. The best chapters are those addressing domestic political developments and foreign relations, which is to be expected, given Gause's background as a political scientist. …

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