Alternative and complementary factors

The combination of the different cases helped make the findings more robust, especially concerning the rival explanations discussed in Chapter 2. While the mechanism of ingroup identification could be seen most clearly in the case of Bahrain and Qatar, the other cases showed similar processes, thereby supporting the conclusion that the MP is not merely a khaleeji (Gulf) peace.

The different case studies also demonstrated that this peace is more than merely the consequence of small-state dynamics. Both "quasi-experiments” pitted a large state against a small neighbor who would have figured as easy prey (and indeed did in the republican period, especially in the Iraq-Kuwait case). As long as the involved states were all monarchies, however, they showed a high level of restraint. The Saudi-Hashemite case also pitted larger, more-powerful states against each other - with similar results.

Except for Jordan (and possibly Saudi Arabia in the early post-independence period), all countries covered are major oil (and gas) exporters. Oil, or rather wealth, played a significant role. While the case of Bahrain and Qatar showed the clearest signs of ingroup identification based on political and cultural similarity, Bahrain was also strongly incentivized to find a solution by compromise through promises of Qatari investment and financial support, as acknowledged by Bahraini politicians. Although the presence of oil enhances the states’ resources and shapes its preferences, once a crisis situation has been reached, it can work as an incentive to make peace (as for Bahrain vis-à-vis Qatar) or to make war (as for Iraq against Kuwait). In addition, there was no significant effect of militarism or a militarized political system. While this might shape the general proclivity toward war - across more (Jordan, Oman) or less "militarized” states (the Gulf monarchies) - the preference for cooperation and the inability to imagine war against a fellow monarch remained constant.

Perhaps the greatest caveat is that given that all monarchies of the past and present were Western allies, it was not possible to find a case to establish the independent effect of Western alliance. British influence and its role as a security guarantor was cnicial in different time periods even after decolonization. British involvement probably deterred Saudi Arabia in 1956 (and Iraq in 1938), and Britain was an important mediator between Iran and the shaikhs that controlled the Tmcial states’ territories. US influence presumably played a similar role in more-recent times and may have had a similar effect in the Qatar Crisis (along with Turkey).

However, British (and US) influence alone cannot explain the phenomenon of the monarchic peace: Britain did not deter Iran from seizing the Tunbs while the Tmcial States were still under its security umbrella and then failed to challenge Iran's fait accompli. The US could not prevent the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait -despite the fact that both states had long been supported by the US (although intermittently in the case of Iraq). Clashes occurred under a Pax Britannica as well as under a Pax Americana, but regional alliances among monarchies persisted and were even strengthened after British withdrawal. For instance, following the British withdrawal from the Persian Gulf, the 1970s were a period of intense Iranian-Arab monarchic cooperation until the fall of the Iranian monarchy; and Saudi-Jordanian relations grew more intense and friendlier after British retrenchment from the region. In addition, because Western alliance seems linked to the monarchic political system, its effects cannot be clearly separated.

This points to another major influence for monarchic interaction that cannot be discarded: the institutional aspects of monarchism. As stated earlier, there were clear differences between ingroup and outgroup foreign policy behavior. However, some traits linked to the monarchic political system either supported the mechanism of ingroup identification or worked alongside it in the same direction. This relates especially to the aforementioned Western alliance but also to monarchic pragmatism and to a potential monarchic proclivity for strong intragroup bonds. The absence of a foreign policy-oriented ideology that so often complicated the foreign relations of republics is intrinsically linked to the concept of monarchy. However, the Iran-UAE case also demonstrated that even the most omnipotent monarchs have to consider public opinion if they want to stay in power - which implies that their freedom in foreign policy is smaller than expected. The shah of Iran and the shaikhs of Sharjah and Ras al-Khaimah all claimed that they would have to cling to their territorial claims because they might otherwise be overthrown. Nonetheless, some feamres of ingroup identification dynamics are intrinsically tied to monarchic institutions - e.g. intermarriage and the long "tenures” of monarchs and other ruling family members in positions of power. Royal ceremonies such as coronations all made intragroup bonds easier and more intense. In addition, in the two case studies that compared joint monarchic periods with mixed periods after the regime change of a member of the dyad, mostly the republics changed their foreign policy to a more confrontational level.2

In general, an institutional approach does not necessarily compete with a SIT-centric explanation. It can also create better conditions for it to work, but this might have implications for the generalizability of the theoretical model when it comes to non-monarchies. Another implication of a parallel institutionalist effect would be a possible explanation of why MP patterns are so similar to the DP: both could be institutionally predisposed to (dyadic) peacefulness. Only further research on other possible groups of “similar systems” can yield answers to these questions.

The advantage of a comparative case framework, consisting of multiple cases selected for difference, lies in the strengths of some of the cases being able to balance the weaknesses of others to some extent. This makes the findings more robust and helps to filter out the independent effect of joint monarchism among the plethora of other factors. Dynamic and fluid concepts, such as common identification, are difficult to capture, and the process of ingroup building takes time, a consolidated state, and political institutions. The case setup itself complicates the findings: per definition, most instances of “nearly missed war” take place in times when relations were not consistently close and greater tensions persisted, e.g. regarding the Saudi-Hashemite case, before or early on in the process of consolidation of both the regional system and monarchic ingroup identity. In this case, the relations grew even closer after the rivalry had ended, i.e. after the end of the analyzed period. After the 1950s, a military confrontation between Saudi Arabia and the remaining half of the Hashemite realms, i.e. Jordan, became immensely unlikely, as foreshadowed by their dynamics during the Arab Cold War period. However, these caveats also made for hard tests of the theory. Because the cases were different and featured ingroups at various stages of development while exhibiting the same main mechanisms, the resulting findings are more robust.

The quasi-experimental cases were particularly significant in that regard since they showed a marked contrast in bilateral relations when dyadic monarchism shifted to a relationship between a monarchy and a republic. Consequently, the transformation of the political system could be shown to have a significant impact on the processes of ingroup identification.

Despite all important caveats to the analytical findings, their importance lies in the establishment of a mostly independent effect of joint monarchism that might work under diverse circumstances - provided that there is a sufficiently developed salience of monarchy.

 
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