Events in Saudi Arabia since the rise to power of Mohammed bin Salman represent, in effect, a revolution from above that is now beyond the point of return to the old stasis. Whether this abrupt change results in success or failure will have profound effects on the region and the wider world.
A failure of the revolution could easily lead to a failed state, taking Saudi Arabia down the path to destruction that turned so grim in Iraq, Syria, Libya and then Yemen. Since the state is an indispensable oil producer, armed to the teeth and with a potential for extremism seething among segments of the population, the implications for global economic and political stability could easily turn very grave. Success, by contrast, may conceivably turn Saudi Arabia into a modern and pluralistic, albeit still authoritarian, state. With its economic power, such a Saudi Arabia could become a regional leader turning the disintegrating violent societies in its neighborhood onto a new path towards stability and a better life.
The question is, how can the positive scenario be realized? For the Saudi Arabian revolution-from-above to succeed, supportive forces must be stronger than the counterforces. Therefore, the strategic problem is how to build supportive forces. In the following, I will offer my answer to this question.
THEORY: STRATEGIC DISCOURSE
The traditional theoretical divide in analyses of international relations and foreign policy lies between realist and constructionist approaches.1 The theories part over the role of agency, its room for maneuver and its constraints. While realists tend to find the international system an objective equation of power, Kenneth Waltz's concept of structural realism,2 legalistic-moralistic constructionists tend to see the international system as a set of principles or codes to be advanced and, if need be, enforced. The archetypal cases of such constructionists are U.S. President Woodrow Wilson following World War I and President George W. Bush with his post-9/11 invasion of Iraq.
This divide bears on policy choices. Influential realists' normative purpose, such as Waltz's,3 has been to restrain policy to avoid its ineffectual or, in the worst cases, destructive unintended effects, above all, war. (While actual policy may in hindsight appear to vacillate on a continuum between the polar opposites of realism and constructionism, our thinking, and hence our theories, tends towards seeing these concepts as a dichotomy.4)
The apparent U.S. and Western supremacy, the "unipolar world," following the end of the Cold War enabled the constructionist idea to emerge within the United Nations that this unchallenged military power should be harnessed to enforce democracy and the protection of human rights. This led to Kofi Annan's proposal for humanitarian intervention,5 an apparently benign idea that was seized upon by the second president Bush and the so-called neocons. In the words of someone who witnessed at close range the U.S. decisions to intervene, first in Afghanistan and then Iraq: "We felt we could do anything, we had a responsibility to put things right."6
Seemingly bearing out realists' call for restraint is the sequence of failed and obviously self-defeating Western policies in the legalistic-moralistic constructionist mode of thinking following Kofi Annan's call for humanitarian intervention in 1999.7 However, the question remains: What options does foreign policy actually infer from a realist paradigm? This is not necessarily a cautious policy of constraint. If power is an objective force forming the international system, the purpose of policy could be to improve the relative power position by a combination of boosting military as well as economic power and forming alliances at the expense of other interested parties. The historical record of this applied realism shows that it, too, like its opposite, the legalistic-moralistic constructionist mode, is self-defeating if undeterred by countervailing considerations. In essence, Bismarck and his successors in Imperial Germany practiced this type of realism, with tragic consequences in World War I and beyond. This is also essentially the type of realism that guides policies in the Middle East today.
After the disasters produced by the constructionist foreign policy of George W. Bush, his successor, President Barack Obama, was greeted as a new realist, a "chess player," by Henry Kissinger.8 Kissinger has been an arch proponent of realism who rejects what he perceives as the idealistic — in my terms, the constructionist — tradition in U.S. foreign policy (although he finds that realism needs an element of idealism to work).9 On Obama, he was only partly correct. Obama himself, by his own account, embraced the moralistic realism of Reinhold Niebuhr, who, while endorsing the realists' call for restraint, urged as a moral imperative that power be harnessed for normative purposes.10 Thus, President Obama was guided by a theory that fused the restraint of realism with the constructionist ideas of Kofi Annan. However, in actual policy, this fusion also proved self-defeating, at least in his endorsement of the French-Danish-Norwegian initiative for humanitarian intervention in Libya, and the failure to intervene effectively in Syria.
The current conflicts in Libya, as well as over Syria, reveal the bankruptcy of both realist and constructionist theories in their vintage forms. In addition, the fusion of realism and constructionism of Niebuhr and Obama proved self-defeating when applied in actual policy.
I argue that these theoretical modes fail for the same reason. When persuasion fails, the recourse is to coercion, which invariably proves ineffective. In fact, a strategy of coercion whether by projecting military force or sanctions, is doomed to fail for two reasons. Coercion cannot control all variables affecting the outcome, and it provokes counterforces to opt for unintended recourses, such as the emerging bloc of authoritarian states resenting Western influence in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and Iran's recourse to missiles for lack of spare parts for their aircraft.
With coercion ineffective or even self-defeating, I argue that Western policy can only succeed by persuading more effectively. We therefore need a theory of foreign policy that explains how differing sets of assumptions form alternative mental models.11 In my adapted model for cognitive behavioral therapy,12 the mental models are constructed by a specific historical analogy with an inferred grand strategy that guides policy choices. On this basis, the theory needs to offer operationalized guidance for policy choices. I call this theory "strategic discourse." Strategic discourse needs to remove emotional blocks13 to introduce alternative mental models, especially the analogy of European transformation from violent confrontation to peaceful pragmatic — if imperfect — cooperation.14 The strategic discourse therefore avoids challenging existing narratives in which parties are cognitively and emotionally invested, for two reasons: the current issues have no feasible solution, and the narratives construct identity,15 the impregnable fortress at the core of our minds. Instead of attempting to "set the record straight,"16 the strategic discourse envisions a desired alternative political order.
In the following, I shall discuss the application of my theory on strategic discourse to the current Saudi Arabian revolution. The current phase of that transition presents a showcase for the impotence of the vintage theoretical alternatives of realism versus constructionism when applied in actual policy. Realists would tend to limit policy to adapting to whatever consequences to the regional and global order come out of the crown prince's political project. The constructionists will either reject the regime for its significant violation of basic tenets of democracy and human rights, or try to coerce the adoption of Western standards.
By contrast, a strategic discourse will engage with the Saudis on their own terms in the pursuit of options that are in the interest of the government's political project. In essence, the premise for strategic discourse is the same as for Waltz's structural realism: the objective equation of power, in this case the ability to cause consequences for others.
The Saudis will not go away even if we reject them, and they will act according to their own ideas, not ours. If we have differences with their current policies, as I do, there is no alternative to engaging them. The Saudi crown prince, like all of us, acts within the confines of his assumptions.
In addition, those who now reject Saudi Arabia ignore the basic insight that any state, including Saudi Arabia, is a composite, diverse, contradictory polity, never monolithic, but rather a dynamic tension field of competing groups and individuals with diverging interests and perspectives. Permanence is an illusion; change is inevitable, often incremental and hardly noticeable, but then suddenly spectacular, as now.
Before proceeding, a note of caution about me as the author. I am an optimist, not only by nature, but also by professional ethics as a diplomat and scholar. I believe that the first step to progress is to envisage it possible. Our sense of political reality is a cognitive construct, hence malleable. Therefore, the purpose of political analysis needs to be instrumental, to develop the insight into how we can change the cognitive construction of political reality. I see political discourse, such as this article, as strategic, similar to cognitive behavioral therapy with its dual purpose of motivating change by generating optimism, and cognitive restructuring of dysfunctional thoughts.17 I should also add that my analysis is partisan. I want the Saudis to succeed. During my tenure as a diplomat in Saudi Arabia, I developed an affinity for its people and culture. As a diplomat and then as a researcher, I had many good conversations with smart official representatives that I feel justify my optimism.
The basis for the following analysis consists of my conversations as a Norwegian diplomat posted to Riyadh in 2008-09, my subsequent conversations as a researcher at various international venues with diverse Saudis and experts on Saudi Arabia and, finally, my round of talks in Riyadh in fall 2017. My Saudi sources comprise the various elites in government, business and academia. Personal interests, perspectives and opinions differ, but, taken together, my sources offer a realistic, albeit necessarily limited, picture of the dynamic diversity of society and polity.
I am the arbiter of my sources' reliability and validity. To this conjecture, I apply my broad experience as diplomat and then researcher.
Despite my methodological limitations, a more systematic and comprehensive approach is, under the circumstances, not feasible. In a society like Saudi Arabia, any standard interview process or quantifiable data collection would be distorted by the circumstances such methodologies generated. Written sources may be distorted by their purpose.
With my conversations, I have gleaned important data that is not obtainable by standard methodologies. I need to find the best feasible methodology to capture this unique information.
My methodology is what I call exploratory conversation. I raise issues, offer arguments and ask questions, and then listen, inferring insights from the answers into feasible courses of action — in this case, how to build supportive forces for the Saudi revolution from above.
A contentious methodological issue is transparency in the use of sources. By my professional ethics as a diplomat, source protection is paramount. I therefore apply Chatham House Rule: a source may be quoted, but neither their identity nor their institutional affiliation revealed. I even take this standard a step further. Sources shall not be identifiable by inference from information about time and place. This is also the standard applied in medical research, such as studies of cognitive behavioral therapy, which I adapt for my strategic discourse. This restriction on the standard Chatham House Rule is necessary because of the aggravated malign attacks on legitimate confidentiality now evident from the indiscretions of Wikileaks, Edward Snowdon and Facebook. Even in my own country, Norway, we experience occasional violations of professional confidentiality. Today, source protection is a personal responsibility.
Having established my theory and methodology, I proceed to practical political analysis in an attempt to solve problems. What are the conditions of agency, its opportunities and limitations, in building supportive forces? Two conditions make or break the supportive forces. First, the crown prince needs to negotiate a domestic coalition strong enough to prevail over any feasible combination of internal counterforces. Second, he needs to secure an enabling external environment, without which his domestic political project of modernization cannot overcome the obstacles. Those who claim or whom he assigns the role of Saudi Arabia's adversaries will put prohibitive obstacles in his way.
Political power in Saudi Arabia has depended on the ability of the king to maintain certain domestic political coalitions, a core coalition within the royal family that extends to religious and business elites, and a broader societal coalition in which a power broker needs to accommodate various interests. The crown prince's revolution, at its present stage, is that he appears to have secured his independence from these coalitions by breaking them. The next stage, he declares, is to use his power for a modernization project.
Breaking the existing domestic coalitions has not obviated the need for them, but a modernizing project makes it more difficult to build alternative ones. A predominant view among experts on Saudi Arabia has been that there is a structural conflict between two imperatives. The need to modernize by replacing entitled privilege with meritocracy conflicts with the need to negotiate a coalition strong enough to maintain power.18
The reason is that power in Saudi Arabia is transactional. The society is tribal in the sense of the medieval Islamic scholar Ibn Khaldun's idea of tribe as the cohesion generated by group feeling. In tribal societies, leadership, according to Ibn Khaldun, is by consent, which the tribal leader forges by justice and fairness in providing for those who reciprocate with their allegiance.19 In modern Saudi Arabia, tribes, clans and families form social and political structures. Within these networks, transactional power is the function of allegiance in exchange for benefits.20 Therefore, the two key Arabic terms necessary to understand the Saudi Arabian social and political system are wasta (connections) and nasab (lineage), or the assets bestowed by family status.
It appears that the crown prince is now master of the core coalition. However, the appearance may be deceptive. I am uncertain to what degree he is capable of blocking any conceivable combination of adversaries. The pivotal question is whether he is still committed to maintaining the process of consultation within the royal family and, by extension, with the wider tribal, clan and family networks that make up the key social and political structures.
My sources were convinced that these consultations continue as they typically have, although the relative weight of the various parties may have shifted. The crown prince has made a widely supported move by forcing certain members of the royal family — who, incidentally, could also form a challenging opposition — to relinquish a substantial portion of their excessive wealth and transfer it to the state. He has skillfully avoided provoking them to risk forming a coalition against him by leaving them very rich. However, they know that if they challenge him, he, with his control of the armed forces, has recourse to worse options than confining them in a luxury hotel.
In other words, the "shura" principle — the indigenous Saudi Arabian version of democracy,21 forging consensus by consultations — still works, my sources maintained. As evidence, they point out that the king and crown prince, in the course of consultations within the royal family, changed their initial idea of the line of succession to the throne. The successor to the crown prince, when he becomes king, must come from a line of the royal family other than his own, they maintained.22
The Broader Societal Coalition
I have discussed how transactional power forges a core coalition within the royal family in alliance with key social actors, the Islamic establishment and economic elites.23 Beyond this core coalition, however, there is a broader societal coalition. This is more volatile than the core coalition because it is more susceptible to influence from the extremist Islamic ideas voiced by "alternative" imams, with their resentment of the Shia and resistance to the social independence of women — their main religious credentials in the challenges to any modernization project.24
The rule of thumb in the broader societal coalition is that the transfer of funds, positions and other benefits — the basis for tribal leadership, according to Ibn Khaldun — is in an inverse relationship with challenges to the Islamic legitimacy of royal power. A historical example shows this inverse relationship: to date, the most serious challenge to the broader societal coalition forged by transactional power was from the Sahwa (Islamic Awakening) movement of the late 1980s and early 1990s. On the surface, it appeared that the king's decision to call on U.S. forces to operate in Saudi Arabia as protection against Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War provoked the Sahwa. They perceived it as a kind of sacrilege, a violation of the royal family's Islamic obligations to keep infidels out.
However, the root cause of the Sahwa movement was a breach of the social contract that Ibn Khaldun considered the basis for tribal leadership and, hence, a weakening of transactional power in the broader societal coalition. When oil prices dropped in the mid-1980s because new producers caused a marked glut, cuts in public expenditures denied new graduates of Islamic studies their expected jobs in the religious establishment. Consequently, they sought an alternative outlet in the Sahwa movement that ended up challenging the royal family's legitimacy on Islamic grounds.25
Modernization and entitlement by social contract still pull in opposite directions. The crown prince has offered a vision of modernization to replace the embrace of tradition, and bold visions of economic development instead of entitled privilege. He must come up with more new moves to prevent another new Sahwa-style challenge to his power. Wahhabism inspires political challenges in times of economic constraints, and the crown prince has to do something to preempt them.
Mohammed bin Salman has publicly challenged the conservative Wahhabi state narrative.26 Contrary to common opinion, I think it is perfectly feasible for Saudi Arabia to move on from Wahhabism. There is a deep-seated misunderstanding that Wahhabism is integral to the state of Saudi Arabia, an unbroken tradition since the mid-1700s, when the preacher Muhammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab entered into an alliance with the first Al Saud. This is, upon closer critical scrutiny, a far-fetched interpretation. In what other society would we assume an unbroken religious or ideological influence for well over 250 years?
The Wahhabism that until now has provided Islamic legitimacy to Al Saud rule is actually a recent state-building strategy from the late 1950s and early 1960s.27 The royal family were faced with the triple challenge of Arab nationalism, brought ominously close to home by Nasser's war in Yemen; the leftist leanings of predominantly Shia oil workers who were organizing and even striking;28 and a disputed succession to the throne. They decided to strengthen their domestic alliance with the families that, as successors of Abd al-Wahhab, claimed positions in the religious hierarchy. The Al Sauds also agreed to expand their positions and influence in society, most significantly over education. In other words, strengthening the cohesion of the state through Wahhabism was also a strategy for domestic coalition building, since the religious hierarchy was one societal interest to accommodate.29 This state-building strategy was also used in response to another crisis: the 1979 occupation of the Holy Mosque in Mecca by a religious group that rejected the Al Sauds' Islamic credentials.30
However, the Saudi Arabian state today is hardly Wahhabi in any meaningful sense. Instead, Wahhabism is, for all practical purposes, an ideology extremists can use to invoke the tenets of their old-time religion, uncorrupted by the subsequent compromises necessary for the Al Sauds' state-building project. These extremists can potentially invoke Wahhabism to challenge the Al Sauds' legitimacy as rulers. The reason this can be effective is that the Saudi Arabian state is now pluralistic to a degree incompatible with vintage Wahhabi principles. The essence of Wahhabism's political implications boils down to two tenets: enforcing Islamic uniformity by the dual principles of hijra, the obligation of Muslims to settle in communities under the right Islamic rule, and jihad, fighting those who do not adhere to the Wahhabi interpretation of Islam.31 Modern Saudi Arabia's break with enforcing Islamic uniformity is evident by the inclusion of the Shia, Ismaili and Zaydi minorities in the state, the state's inclusive role of host to Muslims of all persuasions at the Hajj and Umrah in Mecca and Medina, and the inclusive modern corporate culture in Saudi Aramco and other businesses.
The experience of the Sahwa shows that the broader societal coalition needs to be resilient in times of contracting revenues. By all prognoses, Saudi Arabia will experience a new phase of austerity in government budgets from a combination of low oil prices and high domestic oil consumption at the expense of revenue-producing exports, combined with external challenges bleeding the budget, above all the war in Yemen, but also transfers to regional allies such as Egypt.
The crown prince probably thinks that, for these and other reasons, he needs a new narrative to replace 1960s-era Wahhabism for his political project. By comparison, a modern Western state is a social contract based on the individual rights and obligations of citizens. He has abandoned Wahhabism; now he needs a new bold move to come up with an alternative that can captivate those who have to make up his domestic coalition.
A Feasible Societal Coalition
My impression after talking to people in Saudi Arabia in the fall of 2017 is that the challenge of building the necessary broader coalition should be manageable with the right moves. Modernization enjoys substantial support among young people, who are the current majority and the future. The difference between Riyadh during fall 2009, when I left my post at the Norwegian embassy, and my recent visit was very noticeable. While most people in 2009 would confine themselves to repeating some official line if asked their opinion, in 2017, of their own volition, many would share their enthusiasm and concerns. The fight against corruption and excessive wealth seems to enjoy wide support.
Most notable to me was the change in gender relations. Young women and men mingled in public places, appeared relaxed in each other's company and seemed to engage in meaningful conversations. Without communication and cooperation between women and men, the crown prince's revolutionary project is doomed to fail. It is a known fact that economic growth and social development in Saudi Arabia require the integration of highly qualified women, a reform the conservative Wahhabis have blocked in its full potential up to this point. However, the Sahwa experience shows that the resilience of the broader societal coalition comes under strain when transactional power faces the obstacle of contracting disposable income. This barrier to the power of the crown prince can only be overcome by some wise moves that combine cutting expenses, creating jobs and boosting oil-export revenues. The key to this is to secure an enabling external environment.
An Enabling Environment
The only public costs the crown prince can cut without risk of weakening his transactional power are military expenditures. These are very substantial, so even small cuts could make a noticeable difference for other financial needs. The crucial question is whether Saudi Arabia's security makes such cuts feasible.
Cutting Military Expenses
Conceivably, those manufacturing interests in Western countries that target the Saudi market will envisage scenarios in which the arms procurements they offer enhance security, for all practical purposes, against Iran. However, Saudi decision makers must, given limited resources, weigh this added security against the alternative investment in the broader societal coalition, which the Sahwa challenge shows is necessary for domestic security.
In such an analysis of options and alternative costs, it could also be useful to probe the assumptions underlying the scenarios that promote arms sales. Security is by necessity a mutual dynamic. Additional military expenses could be cut if a regional arms-control process involving Iran obviated expensive investments in air force and ballistic-missile defense.
A smart move might be for Saudi Arabia to initiate a regional multilateral process, an adapted version of the Madrid Process of the 1990s. This was a nascent multilateral process for the Middle East in the window of opportunity opened by the end of the Cold War. Its purpose was to negotiate how parties in a regional concert could agree on specific measures to improve mutual security. The agenda was subdivided into composite agendas, adapting the model of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE).32
Over and above the potential for cutting military expenses, to achieve security, regional arms-control is now imperative. The current imbalance between Saudi air superiority and the Iranian missile force is potentially destabilizing: it could generate pressure for a preemptive strike.33 A further arms build-up to contain a threat from Iran would aggravate this problem. The more menacing that weapons appear, the stronger is the perception that they need to be neutralized before they can be used.
Stopping the Yemen War
The ongoing war in Yemen is an extension of the security scenario in which Saudi Arabia needs to contain an Iranian threat. If an alternative strategy were conceivable, Saudi Arabia could free up public funds for other purposes and avoid the war's collateral damage, horrific suffering and destruction. Although the issues of the conflict seem intractable, during my recent talks in Riyadh I learned of a parallel Saudi policy, building working relationships with all parties to the conflict for alleviating suffering through humanitarian relief.34 It is a two-pronged strategy: waging war against the Houthis while building a working relationship with them to alleviate suffering.
Because the war has failed to produce the intended results, an alternative strategy of building working relationships holds more promise. There are several sound reasons, in addition to cutting expenses and putting an end to human suffering, for building on these relationships to broker a political solution:
• The Houthis would need to form part of any conceivable coalition in Yemen if it is to be sustainable.
• Iranian influence — by way of what the Saudis during my recent talks denoted the Hezbollah Model — is not the cause of the conflict. To the contrary, it is the conflict that enables Iran to establish a presence. In the Saudi view, the Hezbollah Model denotes Iran's use of militias to undermine negotiated power sharing, as they do in Lebanon. Conflict enables the Hezbollah Model. Brokering a political deal with the Houthis would, in other words, both stop the war and put an end to Iranian influence.35 (In fact, Hezbollah itself is the direct unintended consequence of a far-reaching Israeli miscalculation, the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 that had the effect of enabling Iran to establish its presence by proxy in the window of opportunity Israel created. Actually, the scheming of one man, Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, forcing the hand of a wiser government majority against him, led to the ill-advised invasion.36)
• The Hezbollah Model is, for all practical purposes, operated by the Al-Quds Brigade, the branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards for foreign operations. This represents one among several competing political factions in Iran.37 Therefore, Saudi Arabia could also contain the Hezbollah Model in Yemen by building alliances with other Iranian factions, such as Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.
• Without war, Al-Qaeda, which in the early 2000s posed such a terrorist threat in Saudi Arabia from its haven in Yemen, would lose its current political platform: its hybrid role of terrorists-turned-semi-co-combatants against the Houthis, legitimizing themselves there, as they try to do in Syria, by a popular-front strategy of seeming to be absorbed into a broad political movement.
• Finally, the sooner the war in Yemen is stopped, the sooner Saudi Arabia can halt the dangerous disintegration of its "soft underbelly" into chaos. With a population comparable to that of Saudi Arabia, Yemen's turning into a "new Somalia" would pose an almost unimaginable security threat.
The war in Yemen will effectively block the necessary enabling external environment. One casualty is the investment climate. To overcome this obstacle, bold moves are imperative.
Improving the Investment Climate
To make the domestic coalition more resilient in the face of contracting disposable public income, an important move would be to improve the investment climate, to attract the kind of labor-intensive manufacturing that could boost employment and export revenues. Since attracting more foreign direct investment in export-oriented manufacturing seems an urgent concern, another bold move by the crown prince could make a big difference fast. A dramatic and therefore potentially highly effective move could conceivably be to engage Amnesty International in a mutual clarification of perspectives and expectations in the complex human-rights agenda. Contrary to the current common perception, I find such encounters feasible as well as potentially productive. The basis for this contention is my experience as a diplomat discussing human-rights issues with Saudi officials and experts. The difference I observed between my service as a diplomat, ending in 2009, and my round of talks in fall 2017 shows that changes are dynamic in evolving political strategies. Saudi Arabia's current policy on human rights is a response to the perceived needs of the new political project. Boosting the investment climate would call for different adjustment imperatives.
Iran Makes or Breaks the Deal
Another smart move would be to connect to the Iranian and Qatari South Pars gas field for power generation, desalination and petrochemicals. This would free up oil now consumed by other vital domestic sectors so it could be exported. The best way to open up talks to generate an enabling environment with Iran and Qatar would be for Saudi Arabia to initiate the adoption by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) of the EU third-country and neighborhood policies that enable it to extend its political leverage without the complications of membership. By these policies, the EU invites other regional powers to join consultations and cooperation.38 In fact, the nascent EU cooperation in the early 1950s was the integration of the strategic economic sectors of coal and steel. In the GCC at the current state of acrimonious confrontation, the corresponding strategic economic sector would be natural gas.39
In other words, Iran as an adversary in regional conflicts may block the crown prince's modernization project, while Iran as a partner in regional political solutions and supplier of natural gas will enable it. Actually, to a degree, Iran is already a partner. Contrary to common belief, there is now significant cooperation between Saudi and Iranian government agencies to facilitate the participation of about 75,000 Iranian pilgrims annually to the Hajj and Umrah in Mecca and Medina.40 As in Yemen, Saudis act wisely by building working relationships across the fault lines of conflict. By so doing, they have positioned themselves well to engage those who assume the role of adversary, or to whom they attribute such a role.
1 For an analysis of the role of, in the words of George Kennan, the "legalistic-moralistic approach" in U.S. foreign policy (in my terminology constructionist), A. Preston, The War Council: McGeorge Bundy, the NSC, and Vietnam (Harvard University Press, 2010), 11- 24.
2 K.N. Waltz, Realism and International Politics (Routledge Chapman & Hall, 2008), 57-58, 197-229.
3 Ibid., 255-256, 302-303. For an extended argument, see his book, Man, the State, and War: A Theoretical Analysis (Columbia University Press, 2001).
4 This is in line with Levi-Strauss's theory on concepts as binary opposites. R. Deliège, Introduction à l'anthropologie structurale: Lévi-Strauss aujourd'hui (Editions du Seuil, 2001), 49; Simons's theories on bounded rationality, H.A. Simon, Administrative Behavior, 4th Edition (Free Press, 2013); and Kahneman's theories on heuristics: A. Tversky and D. Kahneman, "Judgement under Uncertainty: Huristics and Biases," Science 185 (1974); and A. Tversky, Kahneman, D., "Choices, Values, and Frames," American Psychologist 34 (1984). For a brief overview, see Daniel Kahneman, "Maps of Bounded Rationality: Psychology of Behavioral Economics," American Economic Review 93, no. 5 (2003).
5 "Two Concepts of Sovereignty," The Economist, September 16, 1999.
6 Confidential conversation. Chatham House Rule.
7 For a thorough study of how Western interventions have had counterproductive effects, and hence been self-defeating, see Brynjar Lia, "Jihadism in the Arab World after 2011: Explaining Its Expansion," Middle East Policy 23, no. 4 (2016).
8 Henry Kissinger, interview by Jan Fleischhauer & Gabor Steingart, "Obama Is Like a Chess Player," ABC News, July 6, 2009.
9 For an extended argument, see H. Kissinger, Diplomacy (Simon & Schuster, 1994), 29-55.
10 David Brooks, "Obama, Gospel and Verse," New York Times, April 26, 2007. Niebuhr's influence on Obama is clearly discernible in two statements, (1) at the beginning of his presidency in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, and (2) towards the end of his term in the interview in The Atlantic, "The Obama Doctrine."
11 R.J. Heuer and C.S. Intelligence, Psychology of Intelligence Analysis (Center for the Study of Intelligence, 1999). For a brief introduction, see Introduction xxi-xxii.
12 A. Wenzel, Strategic Decision Making in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (American Psychological Association, 2013); M.B. Ballou, Psychological Interventions: A Guide to Strategies (Praeger, 1995).
13 Daniel L. Shapiro, "Relational Identity Theory. A Systematic Approach for Transforming the Emotional Dimension of Conflict," American Psychologist 68, no. 7 (2010).
14 A. Wirsching, Der Preis der Freiheit: Geschichte Europas in Unserer Zeit (C.H.Beck, 2012).
15 D. Shapiro, Negotiating the Nonnegotiable: How to Resolve Your Most Emotionally Charged Conflicts (Penguin Publishing Group, 2016), 12.
16 In Kahneman's terms, contradicting, "setting the record straight," would be an instrument of rationality. I find this does not work in a strategic discourse. A further elaboration of my disagreement with Kahneman on this point is beyond the scope of this article. Daniel Kahneman, "Maps of Bounded Rationality: A Perspective on Intuitive Judgment and Choice," in Nobel Committee, Prize Lecture (Stockholm 2002).
17 Wenzel, 83, 300.
18 F. Gregory Gause III, "Kings for All Seasons: How the Middle East Monarchies Survived the Arab Spring," Brookings Doha Center Analysis Paper, No. 8, September 2013 (2013), 3, 24, 25. Seminar at the Centre for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, Oslo.
19 Ibn Khaldūn, F. Rosenthal, and N.J. Dawood, The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History, in Three Volumes, 1 (Princeton University Press, 1967), 264, 269, 292.
20 Saudi Arabian sources. Chatham House Rule.
21 I am indebted to Chas Freeman, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, for pointing out the indigenous democratic process of shura. Seminar, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oslo.
22 Saudi sources. Chatham House Rule.
23 S. Stenslie, Regime Stability in Saudi Arabia: The Challenge of Succession (Routledge, 2012), 43.
24 S. Lacroix, "Saudi Islamists and the Arab Spring" (Kuwait Program on Development, Governance and Globalization in the Gulf States, London School of Economics, 2014), 2, 5, 15.
25 Stéphane Lacroix, "Awakening Islam: The Politics of Religious Dissent in Contemporary Saudi Arabia," ed. George Holoch (Harvard University Press, 2011), 268.
26 "Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Promises to Lead His Country 'Back to Moderate Islam,'" Raf Sanchez, October 24, 2017, The Telegraph.
27 Conversations with Saudis who shared how they recalled their society changing because of this new strategy. Chatham House Rule.
28 T. Matthiesen, The Other Saudis (Cambridge University Press, 2014), 82, 85, 87-89; and "Migration, Minorities, and Radical Networks: Labor Movements and Opposotion Groups in Saudi Arabia, 1950 - 1975," IRSH 59 (2014): 473, 477, 482, 489, 492, 493, 500, 503.
29 S. Yizraeli, Politics and Society in Saudi Arabia: The Crucial Years of Development, 1960-1982 (Columbia University Press, 2012), 71, 88-89, 185-227, 251-265.
30 Conversations with Saudi sources. Chatham House Rule.
31 Lacroix, 109, 111.
32 D.D. Kaye, Beyond the Handshake: Multilateral Cooperation in the Arab-Israeli Peace Process, 1991-1996 (Columbia University Press, 2012), 197.
33 Diplomat, expert on Saudi Arabian security. Chatham House Rule.
34 Conversations in the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre, fall 2017.
35 The Saudi understanding of the Hezbollah Model in my view corresponds to the analyses of the renowned Iran expert, Walter Posch. Walter Posch, "The Third World, Global Islam and Pragmatism. The Making of Iranian Foreign Policy," SWP Research Paper (2013): 30-31.
36 G.T. Allison and P. Zelikow, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (Longman, 1999), 283.
37 Walter Posch, „Die „Qods" —Truppe Der Revolutionsgarden," Iran-Brief, Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, no. No/H/3/14 (2014). This was also my own impression inferred from my conversations in Teheran in May 2014.
38 I proposed this in my presentation to a seminar for Saudi Arabian diplomats fall of 2017. Their response is under Chatham House Rule. The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted a presentation of the event with a picture of the seminar at https://goo.gl/D93ePT. From this I infer that they found my proposal an input worth considering in their policy-making process.
39 Jean-François Seznec, "Intra-Regional Energy Cooperation Unlocking the Middle East's Potential," in MEI Policy Paper (Washington: The Middle East Institute, 2016).
40 Conversation with Saudi Arabian officials, Riyadh, fall 2017. Chatham House Rule.