GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Innovations in Foreign Policy Analysis and Saudi Reactions to the Arab Uprising
Paper Proposal Text :
When explaining the foreign policy behavior of Saudi Arabia since 2011 one confronts the surplus of theoretical tools of analysis. Recent analysis, however, tends to fall into either the Saudi ‘counterrevolution’ or ‘Westphalian’ realist interpretation. However, we can find more nuanced theoretical models to explain how Saudi leaders have acted since 2011. First, our use of realist theories can be better specified. Do Saudi foreign policy behaviors best fit under theories of offensive or of defensive realism? Next, ‘counterrevolutionary’ analyses draw our attention to not just to Saudi Arabia’s external environment but its domestic politics as well. Thus, recent innovations in the school of neoclassical realism should be brought in to address the intersection of external and internal dynamics influences on foreign policy. In so doing, we can note the intersection of foreign and domestic policies through the notable ‘securitization’ of sectarianism, to borrow the terminology of the Copenhagen school of international relations. The paper’s analysis concludes by using the role that speech acts as well as more material military and economic behaviors inside Saudi Arabia as well as in Bahrain, the broader GCC, and in relation to the Libyan and Syrian crises as well. In using a broader range of theories and more recent innovations in foreign policy analysis, this paper hopes to deepen our understanding of Saudi behavior beyond the standard ideological tropes.