Modern History and Politics: Globalization and the Politics of Development in the Middle East

By Bahgat, Gawdat | The Middle East Journal, Summer 2002 | Go to article overview

Modern History and Politics: Globalization and the Politics of Development in the Middle East


Bahgat, Gawdat, The Middle East Journal


Globalization and the Politics of Development in the Middle East, by Clement M. Henry and Robert Springborg. Cambridge, UK and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001. xxi + 229 pages. Bibl. to p. 240. Index to p. 258. $55 cloth; $20 paper.

Reviewed by Gawdat Bahgat

This volume is a welcome addition to the growing literature on economic development in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. The main questions the two authors address are why have the MENA states failed to keep pace with economic development in other regions such as South East Asia and Latin America? And how can these tendencies be reversed and economic development accelerated? Clement Henry and Robert Springborg define the ultimate goal of economic development as implementing the "Ten Commandments of the Washington Consensus" (p. 13). These include reducing the budget deficit, investing in social infrastructure, fixing the tax and exchange systems, liberalizing the financial and trade sectors, providing incentives to foreign investment, and privatizing public enterprises.

The authors' main argument is that politics drives economic development in the MENA region. Thus, the roots of poverty can be found in the political structures of Middle Eastern states, rather than in the region's dominant culture or the nature of its economic systems. Based on this presumption, the authors divide the MENA states into three groups: praetorian republics (Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Palestine, Syria, Sudan, Tunisia, and Yemen), monarchies (Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates), and democracies (Iran, Israel, Lebanon, and Turkey). This tripartite categorization of MENA states reflects the degree to which political rights can be exercised and civil liberties are protected.

Finally, Henry and Springborg suggest three models of development: Anglo-American capitalism (laissez-faire and open competitive capital markets centered on stock exchanges); a German model that stresses autonomous private sector capitalist activity, but of universal banks, not individual investors; and a traditional Napoleonic model characterized by administrative intervention (p. …

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