Kuwait's foreign policy (1961-1977) : non-alignment, ideology and the pursuit of security
Kuwait's leaders from 1961-77 maintained a foreign policy that reflected the country's territorial vulnerabilities. They sought to discretely cultivate an Anglo-American defence relationship without fatally compromising an ideological fealty to at least the slogans of Arabism. The thesis emphasises Kuwait's essential need to offset its international "hard" security component with, as far as practicable, a regional non-alignment posture and adherence to Arab policy norrns. In the process neo-realist and constructivist theory are used to bring out the duality at the heart of the amirate's foreign policy. Differences between key Al-Sabah over foreign policy were differences of emphasis, while domestic security concerns did not so much determine policy as emphasise Kuwait's regional challenges, against which the amirate chose to deploy ideology. Arabism inevitably had contradictions as a tool of Kuwait foreign policy, and was often more about the cash subventions that accompanied policy stances, than the value of the stances themselves. However deploying ideology was indicative of the ruling Al-Sabah's desire to strike the right tone for external and domestic consumption; a desire to accommodate or befriend key regional players without, it hoped, alienating others. The inherent contradictions of Kuwait's foreign policy were born of the country's relative weakness, save its one precious asset, oil. In the 1980s Kuwait's strategically vital location and key resource would see the amirate forced to abandon its sometimes illusory regional nonalignment; after 1990 it maintained an overt US alliance. Events post- 1977 therefore emphasised what had been the fragility of Kuwait's foreign policy since independence. The country's limited ability to act to prevent these crises only underscored what had been the limits of the amirate's policy options.