Overhauling the SPSP concept
The patterns that form the monarchic peace have in the past been overshadowed by more-salient features of monarchic politics in the Middle East. Monarchies are rarely studies as a regime type, because of the prolonged academic "unspoken consensus that monarchy is passé” (Anderson 2009,1). Although monarchies have crumbled everywhere in the world since at least the turn of the 20th century.
with revolutions or the establishment of new states invariably producing republics, they have survived in the Middle East. The consequence was a widespread belief of the irrelevance and obsolescence of monarchy with remnants of contemporary monarchy research surviving only in scholarship on the Middle East. Due to this “exceptionalism”, Middle East scholars focused their attention on explaining monarchic resilience ever since the rise of modernization theory by Huntington and Halpern (Halpern 1963; Huntington 1968) while neglecting other possible characteristics of monarchies.
A broad range of aspects were considered as explanation: the interweave-ment of Islamic-Arabic culture and the monarchic system (Sharabi 1988), the reinvention of tradition by monarchies to stabilize their rule (Anderson 2009; Demmelhuber 2011), the shaping of a political culture enabling credible commitment by their institutions (Menaldo 2012), the capacity of monarchs to employ an effective divide-et-impera policy (Byman and Green 1999; Frisch 2011), the stabilizing effect of oil wealth (Gause 1994), and various combinations of these and other factors (Bank, Richter, and Sunik 2015; Yom and Gause 2012). Factors relating to foreign policy and international relations like external support and geostrategic position have also been deployed (Frisch 2011; Gause 1994; Maddy-Weizmann 2000), but only to explain stability (or democratization/lib-eralization), and the patterns of foreign policy itself have been overlooked. The strong emphasis on the societal level and the regime level in both theorized cause and effect follows the traditional embeddedness of the research tradition mainly in comparative politics (CP).
The "natural” discipline to explain war and peace and foreign policy in general, international relations (IR) with its sub-field of foreign policy analysis (FPA), is confined mostly to the two levels of state - that is, the foreign policy of individual states (see e.g. Hinnebusch and Ehteshami 2002; Al-Khalili 2009) - and (regional or global) system (Buzan and Gonzalez-Pelaez 2009; Fawcett 2009; Gause 2010; Halliday 2011), if they are not preoccupied with overarching issues of security, hegemony, terrorism, and the like (Henry and Springborg 2001; Roskin and Coyle 2003; Rubin and Rubin 2004). Only rarely are second-image explanations of internal factors like the domestic political system considered on the level of groups ofstates or through the prism of regime type or state form like monarchies. Two of the most important research programs in international relations, the (neo-) realist school and the democratic peace theorem (DPT), contributed to this effect, stymieing research on monarchies: the former because it neglected regime type as a germane factor in favor of the view of states as "like units”, the latter because it brought this factor back into focus as an account of democracy-autocracy opposition, neglecting the greater diversity of autocracies. When non-democracies are studied, they are usually lumped together under the generic catch-all category of autocracies or authoritarian regimes.9 The emphasis on quantitative methods, especially in the DPT literature, led to a neglect of these numerically insignificant cases. The Middle East monarchy research, on the other hand, was situated mostly in CP and largely neglected foreign policy behavior.
The patterns of war and peace among Middle East monarchies parallel those of democracies in various ways. And we can benefit from the extensive literature around the DPT. Filling in the blanks that still remain is one of the tasks of this book.
There are strong indications that the empirical phenomenon of the democratic dyadic peace is better conceptualized as a subtype of the larger phenomenon of a peace among similar political systems, which would make the monarchic peace a parallel subtype to the DPT. Another blind spot of the DPT literature, as a research tradition grounded in the study of democracies following a specific path-dependent history of democratic institutions, it has a Eurocentric (or rather Westerncentric) bias that should be balanced by engaging with area-specific approaches and topics outside of the Western world. In addition, its predominantly quantitative orientation leaves much room for qualitative analyses of the specific causal mechanism that leads to peace among similar political systems.
Such a causal mechanism that could apply to a democratic peace as well as to a monarchic peace is inspired by social identity theory (SIT), which posits that similar states band together in ingroups in which the use of violence to achieve individual aims has been ruled out. It is an inherently dyadic pathway and thus applicable to all kinds of states, both democratic and autocratic, regardless of the specificities of their institutions. In the shortest possible terms as applied to the monarchic peace, this book claims that monarchies do not fight each other, because they recognize each other as members of the same ingroup - a “royal club”.
Because the examination of the features of democratic foreign policy is firmly established in IR and FPA, autocracies are often reduced to mere mirror images of democracies. There is a growing trend criticizing this conception of autocracies and advocating the development of the study of autocratic foreign policy. This budding field borrows heavily from research on authoritarian regimes from the field of CP to formulate sophisticated concepts of autocracy. Because it is a newly emerging field, not every subtype of autocracy has been examined. Seminal work has so far focused on the cooperation potential of different subtypes of autocracy (Erdmann et al. 2013; Mattes and Rodríguez 2014; Weeks 2014b), including authoritarian solidarity aimed to prevent regime change, liberalization, or destabilization, much of which is grounded in area studies (Bader 2015; Odinius and Kuntz 2015; Way 2015). Other classic FPA topics like war initiation propensity (Weeks 2012, 2014a) and the stamina of dictators in interstate conflict (Sirin and Koch 2015) have also been examined. Most of these studies, however, ignore monarchies altogether or lump them together with other distinct subtypes of autocracies like the "machines” analyzed by Weeks - which refer to dynastic monarchies and to single-party regimes (Weeks 2012,331). Furthermore, many of these approaches are based on institutionalist explanations like selectorate theory and audience costs (Mattes and Rodríguez 2014; Sirin and Koch 2015; see e.g. Weeks 2012).
In contrast, the focus on monarchic peace provides an opportunity to not just discover patterns previously obscured by different lenses but also further uncover mechanisms behind well-known but still-unexplained phenomena like the democratic peace and at the same time advance the emerging research field of autocratic foreign policy.
This adds to at least three main bodies of literature, some area-specific and some general - Middle East monarchy research, Middle East-specific IRFPA. and general IR EPA - by bringing together a focus on autocratic monarchies, foreign policy, and area expertise to the respective fields where these aspects have so far been neglected and to help address the resulting biases. From this fusion, an updated SPSP concept emerges that is based on a modified conceptualization and specification and has more explanatory power, being applicable to dyads beyond democracies. This also adds to the emerging field of the study of the foreign policy of autocracies.
Of course, the study of monarchies is also relevant from a strictly empirical point of view. Before the "waves of democratization” (Huntington 1991) made the distinction between democracies and autocracies (or rather non-democracies) dominant, the main and most salient differentiation between different states was the state form - the distinction between monarchies and republics (cf. Friske 2007, 5). Machiavelli emphasized the relevance of this difference when he wrote that “All states, all powers, that have held and hold rule over men have been and are either republics or principalities” (Machiavelli 2006).
The two world wars constitute the threshold when the monarchy-republic division lost its importance, while the democracy-autocracy division increasingly gained meaning. With the rising trend of the overthrow and abolishment of monarchies and the establishment of republics, monarchy slowly disappeared as the main category, becoming increasingly "synonymous with irrelevance, ossification, and obsolescence” (Ben-Dor 2000, 71). The republic, on the other hand, went from forming one part of a triad (monarchy-aristocracy-republic) to becoming the opposite of monarchy (cf. Friske 2007, 12-44). Monarchy theory, once part and parcel of every theory of constitutions and a main field of political philosophy since at least Aristotle, has declined in the same degree as the phenomenon of monarchy declined with the triumphal procession of republicanism.
Of the current 193 UN member states, 43 are formal monarchies (Friske 2007, 6-7), but the number of authoritarian monarchies is far smaller, ranging from 12 to 18 depending on the definition of either “authoritarian” or "monarchy”, with most concentrated in the Middle East.10 While this might not seem like much, other subtypes of political systems are just as isolated but generate a significant amount of scholarship. Additionally, due to its large share of states in the Middle East, monarchism is of great significance for the politics of this region.
Focusing on monarchies helps to uncover other interesting contemporary patterns of foreign policy in the region apart from war - like their heightened foreign policy activity since 2011. Even in light of the global decrease of interstate war (cf. Malesevic 2014), an examination of monarchic war and peace thus contributes to illuminating broader aspects of foreign policy.
The regime data set by Hadenius, Teorell, and Wahman, for instance, counts 14 military regimes, seven single-party regimes, and one theocracy (Iran) in 2010 (Wahman, Teorell. and Hadenius 2013), whereas the data set by Geddes, Wright, and Frantz records only two military regimes and 15 single-party regimes (Iran is registered as a non-defined sui generis system) (Geddes, Wright, and Frantz 2011). And yet there is ample scholarship on military dictatorships (see e.g. Acemoglu, Ticchi, and Vindigni 2010; Geddes 1999; Martin 2006), single-party regimes (see e.g. Hess 2013; Malesky, Abrami, and Zheng 2011), and, of course, the political system of the Islamic Republic of Iran (Amjad 1989; Moshaver 2003; see e.g. Mozaffari 1993).
Authoritarian monarchies form a small subset of existing states, but they also clearly represent a phenomenon that deserves to be studied in its own right, adding to our knowledge about political systems and their relation to other aspects of state and society.