On Thursday December 7, Professor F. Gregory Gause III from Texas A&M University will visit HCSS for a new Transatlantic Dialogue on The Israel-Hamas Conflict and the Crisis of the Greater Middle East: Impact on US foreign policy and transatlantic relations.
While the Israel-Hamas Conflict, like all conflicts, has its own unique history and immediate causes, it is also representative of a broader crisis that has characterized the Middle East for the past two decades. That crisis has its roots in the weakening and, in some cases, the collapse of state authority in the Arab world. That collapse empowered non-state actors to challenge state authority and struggle with their domestic rivals for control over the fallen Arab regimes. Some regional states had always been weak domestically, open to external intervention, like Lebanon. However, the beginning of the current crisis can be marked by the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the subsequent destruction, as a matter of policy, of the Iraqi state. It continued with the popular uprisings of the Arab Spring of 2011, which led to the collapse of regimes in Tunisia and Egypt and to civil wars in Libya, Syria and Yemen. The political vacuums created by the weakening and collapse of state authority invited outside interventions in these countries, as local groups sought allies in their struggles for power. Both the US and European states have been some of the most prolific interveners in the region, with doubtful results for their efforts. However, Iran most successfully extended its influence into these weakened states and civil wars, by developing strong links to non-state actors who were more than willing to act as part of the overall Iranian regional strategy.
The Israel-Hamas Conflict has all of these characteristics. The weakness of the Palestinian Authority permitted a non-state actor, Hamas, to gain power in the Gaza Strip. Hamas developed links with regional powers, most notably Iran but also Qatar, which helped it consolidate its control of Gaza. Both Egypt and Israel, while opposed to Hamas’ Islamist political project, dealt with the organization for their own purposes. As a non-state actor, Hamas did not have the same stake in the local or regional status-quo that existing governments have, and thus was willing to take dramatic and violent action to change that status quo.
This series of reinforcing crises has given rise to a consistent theme for the transatlantic partners, both within NATO and more broadly: should we stay or should we go? Or, perhaps more for Washington, how should we balance our efforts between the Middle East, Europe, and East Asia? The long-term solution to the crisis of the greater Middle East is the reconstitution of central authority within the borders of these weakened states. However, the path to the restoration of state authority, if it happens at all, will be long, difficult and frequently violent. How the EU and the US can encourage that historical process while addressing other challenges and remaining politically cohesive remains an open question.
- Location: HCSS, Lange Voorhout 1, The Hague
- Date: December 7, 16.00 – 18.00 hrs.
- Note: this is an in person event and will not be streamed online; seating is very limited.
This special event is part of our Transatlantic Dialogue series, organised by HCSS senior strategic analyst Paul van Hooft together with the Embassy of the United States in the Netherlands, which looks at how the relationship between Europe and the United States can be adapted to the geopolitical realities on the 21st century.
F. Gregory Gause III is Professor of International Affairs and John H. Lindsey ’44 Chair at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A&M University. He served as Head of the School’s Department of International Affairs from 2014 to 2022 and is an affiliate of the School’s Albritton Center for Grand Strategy. He is currently working at the Bush School’s Washington, D.C. teaching site. He was previously on the faculties of the University of Vermont (1995-2014) and Columbia University (1987-1995) and was Fellow for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York (1993-1994). During the 2009-10 academic year he was Kuwait Foundation Visiting Professor of International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. In spring 2009 he was a Fulbright Scholar at the American University in Kuwait. In spring 2010 he was a research fellow at the King Faisal Center for Islamic Studies and Research in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. From 2012 to 2015 he was a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Doha Center.
His research focuses on the international politics of the Middle East, particularly the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf, and American foreign policy toward the region. He has published three books, most recently The International Relations of the Persian Gulf (Cambridge University Press, 2010). His articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Middle East Journal, Security Studies, Journal of Democracy, Washington Quarterly, National Interest, and in other journals and edited volumes. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University in 1987 and his B.A. (summa cum laude) from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia in 1980. He studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo (1982-83) and Middlebury College (1984).
HCSS Senior Strategic Analyst Dr. Paul van Hooft interviewed Prof. Gregory Gause. Watch the full interview below.