War and State in the Middle East: Reassessing Charles Tilly in a Regional Context

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“States make war and wars make states.” In this simplistic form, the proposition of Charles Tilly certainly makes sense for Middle Eastern state formation. The contemporary political landscape of the Middle East evolved from the violent competition of European powers and its explosion in the First World War. At San Remo in 1922, the victorious war alliance, in particular, Great Britain and France, eventually decided about the distribution of Ottoman territories and to a large extent determined the political borders of the modern Middle East. In this way, the First World War ultimately had a strong impact on the subsequent formation of regional states. Moreover, the victorious war powers were decisive in admitting regional leaders to and preventing others from state power. In drawing the political borders of the contemporary Middle East, they almost completely disregarded the political aspirations of the respective populations with their diverse religious and ethnic loyalties. To be sure, the state borders of the Middle East are not artificial as some scholars often like to claim. Although fixed under colonial domination and often in an arbitrary way, they nevertheless are the result of historical processes and undoubtedly reflect both the dominant strategic interests of Europe's great powers and the political ambitions of their regional clients. Looking at the academic field of Middle Eastern area studies, the discipline has not contributed all too much to enlighten us about the relationship between war-making and state-making in the region. Unfortunately, Lisa Anderson's verdict that “Middle Eastern studies have contributed relatively little to the development of analytical approaches in political science” has largely remained true. Given the relatively belligerent nature of Middle Eastern politics, surprisingly few scholars on the region took theoretical inspirations from Charles Tilly's work. A pioneering book in this respect was Michael Barnett's study Confronting the Costs of War (1992). In taking up the examples of Israel and Egypt, Barnett examined the relationship between state power and war preparation, that is to say the “sustained mobilization and consumption of resources” by the respective governments. This examination led him to question the general assumption derived from Tilly's model that war preparation increases the state's control over society through enhancing its capacity to extract resources.

TitelDoes War make States? : Investigations of Charles Tilly's Historical Sociology
RedaktørerLars Bo Kaspersen, Jeppe Strandsbjerg
ForlagCambridge University Press
ISBN (Trykt)9781107141506
ISBN (Elektronisk)9781316493694
StatusUdgivet - 2017

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