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      Pax Americana and the Dissolution of Arab States: The Humanitarian Consequences (1990–2019)

      Arab Studies Quarterly
      Pluto Journals
      hegemony, Pax Americana, intervention, United States, Iraq


            This article provides an assessment of three decades of US hegemony over the Arab-majority states of the Middle East's Gulf region. Since its direct military intervention in the 1990 war over Kuwait, the US increasingly engaged itself as an architect forging the region through deployment of its neoliberal economic and financial coercion, Janus-faced support for authoritarian regimes while promoting democracy, human rights and individual freedom rhetorically, as well as repeated direct military interventions into Arab states in an effort to bring about regime change. At the base of diplomatic and public justification for the 1990–91 intervention—or the Gulf War as it became known to Americans—was the assertion that the war was defensive in nature, protecting the territorial integrity of Kuwait as well as the enshrining the norms of non-intervention and the sanctity of borders. Over the following years, however, US military forces came to be active in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Libya with an expanded coterie of bases littered across the states of the Gulf (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Oman). While the US and its allies had been engaged in the region's politics throughout the Cold War, from 1990 through 2019, the US escalated its role to preside over regional politics through a hub-and-spoke latticework of relations between itself and regional states. From the perspective of nearly three decades since 1990, an appraisal of this coercive relationship, focusing on the humanitarian impacts it has wrought upon the region's peoples, suggests it has failed according to these criteria. Many of the region's peoples have experienced a marked decline in their economic well-being, personal safety and health, while the state apparatuses established following the retreat of European imperialism now lie in ruin in Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. The populations of these states now face a precarious future, without the protection of state institutions, against a range of predatory actors. Moreover, these actions have contributed toward the decline of US global influence, thereby encouraging further change in an environment where popular sovereignty and inputs into governance by regional peoples has been frustrated through the exercise of US power.


            Author and article information

            Arab Studies Quarterly
            Pluto Journals
            1 January 2020
            : 42
            : 1-2 ( doiID: 10.13169/arabstudquar.42.issue-1-2 )
            : 25-45
            © 2020 The Center for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies

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            Social & Behavioral Sciences
            hegemony,Pax Americana,intervention,United States,Iraq


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