United States and the Persian Gulf: Reshaping Security Strategy for the Post-Containment Era [open pdf - 4MB]
Significant changes lie ahead for U.S. security strategy in the Persian Gulf after almost a decade of stasis. In the decade between the Gulf War and the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the strategy of dual containment of Iraq and Iran was a key driver of American military planning and force posture for the region. During these years, the overriding U.S. concern was preserving access to Gulf oil at reasonable prices; both Iran and Iraq possessed only a limited ability to project power and influence beyond their borders; the Persian Gulf states acquiesced to a significant U.S. military presence on their soil despite the domestic costs; and the United States was reasonably successful, at least until the second Palestinian intifada in September 2000, in insulating its relationships with key Gulf states from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the implications of these political, strategic, security, and military factors for U.S. military presence and force posture, defense and security relationships, and force planning for the region. Specifically, the chapters in this paper seek to frame the issues, options, and trade-offs facing U.S. defense planners. The main conclusion of this study is that, with or without regime change in Iraq, the United States will need to make significant adjustments in its military posture toward the region.