Paper - Middle East Policy
Globalization and its Discontents in the Middle East and North Africa
The great wave of globalization that welled up as the Cold War was ending, and which peaked with the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, is ebbing away. Despite its significant contribution to economic growth and growing national income equality between countries of the North and South, globalization has stimulated a matching wave of skepticism in the developed and developing worlds. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) such negative views are particularly widespread, despite the fact that globalization drove more rapid economic growth there than in the old colonial powers. The case could be made that it was not rapid globalization, but its sudden, dramatic slowing from 2007 that has been the cause of subsequent, pronounced discontent in MENA. As globalization has slowed to a crawl, MENA states have scrambled to meet intensifying domestic and regional economic and political challenges. Just as they turned in unison in a liberal direction in the late 1980s with globalization’s rise, so they have now turned en bloc in a conservative one, shoring up state authority over the political economy while justifying de-liberalization on security grounds. How this political tightening can be reconciled with the ever more urgent imperative to diversify economies is a critical question for the entire region.
This paper served as the basis for Professor Springoborg's fall 2016 study group at MEI Globalization and its Discontents in the Middle East and North Africa. More information on the study group, including full recordings of all lectures, is available below.