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As shown by this essay, however, the interplay of strategic, economic, and ideological factors that characterizes American policy toward the region has produced an unsustainable equilibrium that challenges the very rationale of US involvement — global energy security. Washington strategists have too often been ready to believe that they could count on compliant local clients, or that they could opportunistically exploit regional rivalries, or that they could manipulate the region's balance of power by resorting to military power in order to protect their interests without the need to make compromises.
Such an approach has largely failed. Massive US military intervention often exacerbated conflicts and instability, and, contrary to the expectations of so many politicians and armchair strategists, it led to restrictions in free flow of oil from the region. Furthermore, although US policy became more and more unilateral, the implications of American actions remained multilateral and ramified — and frequently had the unintended consequence of improving the strategic position of powers, such as Iran, that challenge the US role and presence in the region.
The Militarization Of The Persian Gulf - An Economic Analysis Hardcover
Since some form of engagement between the region and the rest of the world is inescapable, however, a more pragmatic assessment of the interests at stake and the means to protect them on the part of leaders in Washington and in allied capitals could at least reduce the effects of the vicious circle and contribute to create the conditions for improving stability and security in the area.
Thus, in the short term, efforts should concentrate on fostering a modus vivendi among the region's greatest powers and encourage the mutual recognition of the regimes in place in the area. Iran's economic and political revival, however, appears to be a critical but inescapable challenge for the stability of the Persian Gulf.
Moreover, the country's new leadership appears to be much less inclined to sacrifice Iranian economic revival on the altar of confrontation with the US. Considering the history of the region, Iran's desire for greater security and a greater role on the regional level is not an unreasonable aspiration, as long as the Tehran leadership understands that Iran should refrain from seeking regional hegemony. As a matter of fact, once a more pragmatic attitude is embraced, it turns out that Iran and the West do have a number of very important interests in common — they want a stable Iraq at peace with its neighbors, they do not want Afghanistan to be dominated by the Taliban, and Iran is the shortest and cheapest route for Caspian oil and gas to reach global markets.
Until recently, the policy of choice to deal with this problem was a combination of increasing arms sales and increasing direct US military presence in the region. Such an approach has proved to be extremely costly and frustrating, and the time seems ripe to seriously explore new policy approaches.
In fact, a careful assessment of the global strategic and economic relevance of the Persian Gulf suggests that not only the US and its Western allies, but also emerging Asian powers, particularly China, have an interest in stability, economic opportunities, and access to energy resources in the area. Hence, the US and its Western allies should not strive to reshape or control the geopolitics of the Persian Gulf — both approaches are unfeasible.
Rather, America and its allies should focus their engagement on promoting better mutual understanding among regional actors and greater cooperation among the regional and global powers that have a stake in the stability of such a strategically and economically important area. Short of such a framework of coordination and mutual understanding, the resort to US and allied military power should be considered not only ineffective, but even counterproductive.
In the long run a less militarized, more stable, and more inclusive regional framework could even become the basis for promoting in the Gulf some of the developments that America's military adventures have failed to achieve, such as the spread of democracy and respect for human rights. Ricks, Fiasco.
Ehtan Kapstein, The Insecure Alliance. Keohane, After Hegemony. Palmer, Guardians of the Gulf. Leffler and Odd Arne Westad, eds. Klare, Blood and Oil. Woolley, The American Presidency Project [online]. Santa Barbara, CA. It seems interesting to note the continuing relevance of the Suez Canal as a key oil choke point: between and , political instability in Egypt raised investors' concerns about the risk of interruptions in the passage of oil tankers through he canal, with direct consequences on oil prices.
Daniel Yergin, The Quest. Moreover, as a matter of fact, production cuts didn't appear to penalize the industrial countries singled out as the targets of the embargo. It seems more correct to argue that the most significant consequence of the crisis of was not greater geopolitical clout for the Arab countries, but rather a greater capacity of OPEC countries to coordinate production in order to influence the global supply of oil. Adelman, Genie Out of the Bottle. Pollack, Unthinkable.
Lesch, ed. Leffler and Odd Arne Westad eds.
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Militarization of the Persian Gulf: An economic analysis
Edward Haley, Strategies of Dominance. The Misdirection of U. For an alternative explanation, emphasizing continuity with previous administrations, see: Fawaz A.
Gerges, Obama and the Middle East. The End of America's Moment? Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, It seems important to observe that the policy of propping up the Gulf's rising powers had an important economic side effect: the sale of weapons would improve the US trade balance by increasing exports toward those countries which were reaping the highest benefits from the increase in oil prices — a scheme known as the petrodollar recycling.
El-Gamal and Jaffe, Oil, Haass, War of Necessity, War of Choice. Norman H. In other words, by Saddam Hussein was doing his best to make Iraq a bulwark against Iran, as wished by the architects of the first Gulf War. The Iranian government officially maintains that its nuclear program is peaceful.