Rentierism

The damage that oil rents have done to political and social outcomes in the Middle East and North Africa region are due to the interaction of these rents with post colonial nations that had weak institutions, limited participation in government, inability to evenly distribute the wealth from those rents, and government corruption. All of of these factors combined with oil rents can be attributed to the harm that has been done to the social and political facets of the MENA region. In the Ross article he states that “only a few are engaged in the generation of this rent the majority being only involved in the distribution or utilization of it” (Ross, p. 329). States also often control the revenue from their rents, much of which is failed to be invested back into programs that benefit the masses. There is also the “spending effect” in which it is common for governments to invest in patronage which innately reduces the push for democratization. Ammeter attributing factor is the divide among the rich and the poor that can be seen throughout the MENA region and is a main contributor to a disparity in wealth between those that are directly involved in the oil industry and those that work and contribute to the industry but ┬ádo not receive the same reimbursement as those that own it. There is also a large investment into the military within the MENA region with the money earned from oil rents, this in turn leads to a more oppressive regimes and a stronger oppositions to democratization pushes from the population. Another reason for the damage done to the social and political facets of the MENA region is the mismanagement of funds from oil rents among political leaders. With this many of the investments that could be made to better the people of the MENA region never occur or occur at in very small increments. There is also the widespread corruption among the privatized oil sector due to the weak institutions in many MENA region nations. These are a few factors that when combined with oil rents hurt the development of the social and political facets of nations within the MENA region.

Anderson Response

Anderson highlights many different factors that attributed to the failure of political scientists to successfully analyze the Middle East in the ways they were attempting to. One such way was the over emphasis of political scientists to attribute the United States’ actions and policies in the Middle East region for more than they could possibly have been. She doesn’t say that the U.S. didn’t have significant sway in the region but she believes that many political scientists attribute many of the changes in the Middle East to the U.S. when they couldn’t have had that amount of influence. She also believes that many western analysts ran into problems during their studies of the Middle East in regards to how they measure political change. She states that many political scientists measure change in the amount of democracy and globalization a nation undergoes and in this region many western ideals were met with resistance. Another issue political scientists ran into was the slow decline of democracy in the region. Many were looking for trends in the expansion of democracy but they just weren’t there. As time went on and the governments of the once Ottoman Empire began to form identities and govern themselves; democratic ideals began to fade and many political scientists were not able to gather the “empirical or analytical” evidence that they were looking for. Democratic trends that political scientist were looking for weren’t there. The failure of democratic nations to emerge in the Middle East comparatively to the rest of the world from the 1970’s to 2000’s challenged the general notion that the inevitable rise of democracy was in fact inevitable. Many political scientists came to this conclusion as democracy had failed int he region. From the prospect of its emergence post WWII to the complete collapse of almost all democratic nations by the 2000’s the region contradicted what many political scientists wished to believe.