Qatar: Small State, Big Politics

By Hewitt, John L.,, III | Military Review, January-February 2015 | Go to article overview

Qatar: Small State, Big Politics


Hewitt, John L.,, III, Military Review


QATAR: Small State, Big Politics

Mehran Kamrava, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, 2013, 232 pages

In Qatar: Small State, Big Politics, Mehran Kamrava, a noted author and director of the Center for International and Regional Studies at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar, delivers a persuasive and well-written monograph every U.S. military officer who is interested in Middle Eastern politics should read. From the outset, Kamrava declares Qatar a shrewd and influential country that is uniquely positioned--financially, regionally, and security-wise--to rub elbows with larger, dominant countries (like the United States) and strange bedfellows (like the Taliban and Iran), all the while shaping regional and global politics.

Qatar's ability to execute this diplomatic strategy spurns conventional wisdom and traditional international relations theory. Kamrava asserts it is Qatar's "subtle power" and "hedging strategy," where you simultaneously work with divergent parties (such as Hamas, Iran, Israel, and the United States), that have allowed it to gain a seat at the big-boy table. Conversely, this assertion may rankle the likes of hard- and soft-power acolytes.

To make the case, the book is structured around three interrelated arguments dispersed over six chapters. First, Kamrava identifies the waning influence of the traditional powers of the Middle East (i.e., Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Iran), which is no doubt obvious. Next, he discusses the changing nature of power in the international arena. This too is evident, especially with those waning powers mired in internal conflicts and civil wars.

Finally, he looks at Qatar's developmental capacity in the form of its government (a monarchy), a largely obedient population of indigenous Qataris and immigrants, and its contrived nationalism and cultural identity which, ironically, is largely influenced by Western standards. …

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