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Militarizing Welfare: Neo-liberalism and Jordanian Policy

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Abstract:

Jordan's seemingly successful economic and political reforms have been used to advertise the American vision of societal transformation in the Middle East. The imposition of neo-liberal economic policies removed a key source of welfare for the populace, leaving the regime without a secure base of support. Economic liberalization led to a radical change in the regime's base of support, marginalizing the previous regime backers — the East Bank population — and replacing them with a strengthened military, formerly only part of the regime's support. Initial economic liberalization was a critical juncture when differing outcomes were possible. The 1990s set the institutions and state policies that persisted after these extreme hard times passed. An analytical focus on state social provisioning demonstrates the changed social base of the Jordanian regime and the groups effectively disenfranchised by the new arrangements. The military and security services are the only sector growing in structural adjustment. Alongside decreasing social welfare allocations in general, the military's budgets are increasing and the military diversifying into sub-contracting and new economic enterprises. Militarized liberalization serves as an alternative model for Middle East regimes, one that can furnish the foundation for semi-authoritarianism into the near future. This changing social base of the regime, illuminated through an examination of social welfare, must be recognized when tackling the perennial question of a democratic deficit in the Middle East.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3751/62.2.15

Publication date: March 1, 2008

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