67-92 - Jon Coleman America and the Persian Gulf 1967-1992...

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Jon Coleman 11/30/2010 America and the Persian Gulf: 1967-1992 The United States has had a complex and often time’s tumultuous relationship with the Arab States in the Persian Gulf. Ultimately, the relationship has been characterized by a series of missed opportunities. The 25 year period between 1967 and 1992 was a particularly formative period in U.S.-Middle East relations in that it incorporated times of war, revolution, and all the diplomatic wrangling that comes with it. America’s long-running support for Mohammad-Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran and that brutal, now-extinct regime has continued to be a black mark on U.S. foreign policy. How could the United States speak of liberty and freedom of expression at home while supporting such a repressive regime abroad? The Iranian Revolution in 1979, much of it aimed at restoring Iran’s sovereignty from the West’s modernizing influence, proved to be a fiasco for the United States and diplomatic relations have even still yet to be repaired. U.S.- Iranian relations throughout the 1980’s and early 1990’s reflected that deep schism. However, the succession of American presidents from LBJ to George H.W. Bush were successful in developing and maintaining strong diplomatic ties with the more moderate governments in the Gulf. America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia came to be very strong at this point, as did American relations with the Emirates and Kuwait. This strong alliance manifested itself in the building of the U.S.-led coalition to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in the Gulf War of 1991. Before delving into a 25-year period of history, it is essential to lay out the national interests that led to American involvement in the Middle East. American policy-makers of the era viewed the Gulf region through the over-arching lens of the Cold War. America’s support for the Shah was directly linked to his anti-communist, pro-American rhetoric. The Shah’s Iran
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served as a buffer to Soviet expansion into Central Asia and thus the United States backed the Shah. Energy security, specifically access to the Gulf’s vast oil reserves, provided another major national interest that the United States sought to protect in the region. The oil-based relationship between America and the Gulf States was very simple: America needed oil and the Gulf States had it. Thus, the United States worked in tandem with Arab governments to ensure the steady flow of the resource. Lastly, the United States sought the preservation of Israel as a democratic ally in the Middle East. In this regard, the United States played favorites with nations that had
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67-92 - Jon Coleman America and the Persian Gulf 1967-1992...

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