Ward Persian Gulf Seminar Paper Final

Ward Persian Gulf Seminar Paper Final - The Tangent Vectors...

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The Tangent Vectors for the Persian Gulf By Estee Ward Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic Seminar 467R Dr. Frederick W. Axelgard Brigham Young University February 11, 2008
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The famous formation skydiver “Skratch” Garrison once said, “A plan is just a tangent vector on the manifold of reality.” In the introductory class to Middle Eastern Studies last semester, I learned that reality lies in the eye of the beholder, that each person views the world with a specific frame of reference shaped by a specific regime of knowledge. If this is true, then Garrison’s quote interprets that there are hundreds of possible realities and that for every given reality there are an infinite number of paths to take. It would appear that the same holds true for the current situation in the Middle East. In 2003, Kenneth Pollack wrote an article that declared what he felt were the three biggest “problems” for the United States in the Persian Gulf: security in Iraq, a nuclear weapons program in Iran, and instability in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Pollack then laid out three possible “approaches” to tackling all three of these problems at once. Pollack first presented the policy of “offshore balancing.” In theory, the United States would dramatically downsize military presence in the Middle East, leaving just enough to maintain power and avoid a major blowout. The second approach would be to form a regional alliance with the GCC and Iraq, keeping Iran isolated and at bay. Finally, Pollack suggested a “security condominium,” a series of talks that would hopefully, after an extended period of time, allow gulf countries to work out conflicts diplomatically. At the end of his article, however, Pollack suggested that the best solution may be a combination of all three. Because the Middle East is so incredibly complex, it cannot be fixed with one, straightforward solution. One must analyze the situation holistically, considering another’s perspective in addition to one’s own and acknowledging that there are many different plans that will work towards one common goal (Pollack 2003). Perhaps America’s greatest folly in dealing with the Middle East is that it has a tendency to think in extremes. It either commits to a singular reality or forms no opinion at all. With such Ward 2
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a polar mentality, there is little room for multi-pronged solutions. This mentality may have developed in part because America’s initial involvement in the Middle East was entirely out of self-interest. Richard Clarke, a former chief member of the U.S. National Security Council, perceived that America initially “stumbled” into the Islamic World during the Cold War (Clarke 2004, 35). With blinders on either side, President Reagan was “obsessed with aggressively confronting the Soviet Union, not just by outspending the Red army, but by inserting U.S. military influence in new regions to put Moscow off balance” (Clarke 2004, 35).
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Ward Persian Gulf Seminar Paper Final - The Tangent Vectors...

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