"Ballots, Bust and Bombs": The Middle East's Defining Moments
This paper examines three current trends the in the Middle East: political radicalization, kindled by an unprecedented volume of elections; rentier recession, compounded by the oil bust and the global economic crisis; and military nuclearization, Iran‟s putative progress towards an atomic bomb. Surging in magnitude and converging in direction, these three “vicious vectors” create a daunting challenge to current polities, authorities and policies in the region. Focusing on the first two vectors, I submit that while democratic and semi-democratic countries are increasingly susceptible to electorally-induced radicalization, authoritarian states are more prone to economically-driven destabilization. Theoretically, the Middle Eastern reality calls for a more nuanced view of the Democratic Peace and Rentier State theses, two of the more popularized and distorted exports from the ivory tower to the realms of public and policy-makers. The Middle East‟s impending defining moments are bound to reveal the fallacies of substituting “electoral” for democratic peace, and of holding up rentierism to provide a bullet- and ballot-proof vest for the Middle Eastern state.