First used by the British military command during World War 11, the term Middle East is generally used to describe the region in south western Asia and northeastern Africa. Although the term is relatively new, the Middle East itself has been home to some of the world's oldest civilizations. Their ideas and institutions have spread all over the world, earning the Middle East the name "Cradle of Civilization".
Although this distinction suggests a certain degree of uniformity, the Middle East has been host to a myriad of peoples, ideas, and institutions. Governments arose as early as 3000 BC in the first states of Egypt and Summer. Despite significant defenses, invaders would dethrone these institutions and create their own, marking a trend which would characterize the Middle East until the modem day. Over time, the Middle East and its peoples have been dominated and influenced by many rules, including the Persian, Roman, Byzantine, Islam, and Ottoman empires. In addition to direct foreign control, the Middle East has constantly been subject to outside pressures and influences.
Amidst the political chaos, many religions and cultures developed and thrived in the Middle East. The three great monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam formed there, and dominate religion and culture in the Middle East today. The great majority of the people in the Middle East are Muslim- however, Judaism and Christianity both retain very strong followings. This division is deceptive, though, because both Christianity and Islam are divided into sects, all of which are represented in the Middle East and provide for still greater religious diversity and complexity.
This incredible variety and historical instability has yielded a very diverse population,
which is entirely contrary to the modem western stereotype. This variety is largely responsible for the incessant turmoil and volatility which has characterized the Middle East in the 20th century. Another major reason has been the continued interference and influence of outside powers on Middle Eastern affairs. This paper focuses on the United States as an outside power in the Middle East in the latter half of the 20"' century. It will examine the changing US policy and its effects in the region over that period. Finally, this paper will speculate on the future of the Middle East and propose recommendations for future US foreign policy.
Unfortunately, in examining US relations with the Middle East, the Middle East cannot be treated entirely as a whole. Since the end of colonialism in the 1950s and 1960s, the Middle East has divided into different states with different peoples, resources, histories, and agendas. The result is a region with very complex innerstate relations, interstate relations, and international relations. These relations and their long history play an integral role in policy making. Therefore, in order to understand US foreign affairs with the Middle East, we need background information on each of the countries. Before it looks at US policy, this paper will first provide a very brief description of the basic character and history of the countries most relevant to this discussion of US foreign policy.
The Relevant Middle Eastern States:
The end of the second World War marked the collapse of the great Ottoman empire which had ruled the Middle East for over four centuries. This close was also the beginning of a new era for the Middle East, one of colonial rule. In 1918, the European powers, namely Britain and France, gained control of the region until the mid- 1900s, when the Middle Eastern states gained their independence.
Most Egyptians are descendants of the ancient Egyptians or the Arabs, who conquered the area in the 7th century AD. As a result, Muslims comprise over 90 percent of the population and Arabic is the national and official language of Egypt.
Egypt is primarily an agricultural economy, despite the severe lack of arable land. 99 percent of the 63 million person population lives within the Nile Valley and delta, making these areas among the most heavily populated in the world. This unhealthy situation, together with a socialized economy and a propensity to fight, have left Egypt in difficult financial straits.
Driven by the Suez Canal as a short route to India, the British became involved with Egypt in the late 1800s and controlled it throughout the beginning of the 20thcentury. In 1948, Egypt went to war in an attempt to prevent the establishment of the state of Israel. This event was the first in a long line of Arab-Israeli conflicts to come. In many of these cases, Egypt led the Arab fight. In fact, politically, Egypt has been the most important Arab country in this respect. It lies between the Eastern and Western parts of the Arab world, and has constituted the bridge between the two. In addition to its political leadership, Egypt has also dominated the culture of the Middle East - Egyptian magazines, books, newspapers, and teachers have flooded Arab cities. These characteristics have made Egypt the focal point of much US and Soviet foreign policy. Relations between Egypt and the two superpowers have changed significantly over time, as did its relationship with Israel and the other Arab states.
Although the state of Israel declared its independence in 1948, its modem history begins with the Zionist movement - the creation of a home in Palestine for Jewish people. In the early 1900s, Palestine was mostly Arabic-speaking Muslims and Christians. By World War 1, however, the Zionist movement has gained British favor, explicit in the Balfour Declaration of 1917. Following the declaration, Palestine saw large-scale Jewish settlement and development of extensive Zionist agricultural and industrial enterprises. As the population grew, Arab opposition to Zionism grew. On May 14, 1948, the independent Jewish state of Israel was established, and the following day the armies of Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq joined Palestinians in a war against Israel.
This "War of Independence" was the first of many conflicts Israel would have in the remaining half of the 20'hcentury. Israel's national interests have been predominantly focused on consolidation of her statehood and security - approximately 25 percent of the GDP is dedicated to national defense. Israel has allied with the United States from its inception, and benefited from this union the most in the 1960s and 1970s. Fortunately, these decades of fighting may be coming to a close. Starting with Egypt in 1978, Israel has come to peace with many of its sworn enemies, including the PLO in 1994.
Israel has a mixed economy largely based on the services and manufacturing industries. Years of fighting and occupational maintenance has inhibited the potential of the economy. Relaxation of Arab relations will be very important for Israel's economic growth.
The population of Jordan is almost entirely Arab. The great majority of the people are Sunni Muslims. Shiite Muslims form a small minority. Islam is the national religion and Arabic is the official language.
Jordan is underdeveloped industrially, poor in natural resources, and largely too and for agriculture. It is not economically self-sufficient, and must depend upon foreign aid. Further burdens were imposed on the economy following the Six-Day war, in which Israel took the West Bank, and consequently half of Jordan's agricultural land. Despite this setback and others, Jordan's free-enterprise economy is developing.
Jordan took advantage of the Eisenhower doctrine in 1957, which promised American aid to any Middle Eastern state threatened by "International Communism". By 1970, Jordan had received over $700 million in US assistance, second only to Israel in terms of per capita American aid. Although it was not a major force, Jordan participated in all of the Arab-Israeli conflicts, especially after the seizure of the West Bank. In 1994, Jordan and Israel signed a peace accord, ending decades of violence. This new peace may yield joint-development projects which would prove beneficial for both countries.
Although many Christian Arabs disclaim Arab ethnicity, about 93 percent of Lebanon is Arab. Just over one-tenth of this Arab population is Palestinian, who mainly live in stateless refugee camps. Arabic is the official language, but French is commonly used, especially in the government and among the upper class. English is also widely used, particularly as the language of business and education.
The Lebanese government conducts a policy of confessionalism, in which individuals are grouped according to religion. This policy plays a critical role in the country's political and social life and has given rise to persistent and bitter conflicts. In the 1940s, the Christians outnumbered the Muslims, however in the following years, many Muslims immigrated to
Lebanon and the Muslims had a higher birth rate. Today, 70 percent are Muslim, and the remaining 30 percent are mostly Christian.
Prior to the Lebanese Civil War in 1975, Lebanon developed as a free-market economy with minimal government regulation. Lebanon became the financial center of the Middle East. The war ravaged both the physical landscape and the economic structure of the country. As the rest of the Middle East experienced an economic boom, businesses moved to other economic centers. Since 1991, Lebanon's economy has begun to revive.
Of all the Middle Eastern countries, Lebanon has one of the most complex and fragmented sociopolitical structures. Each of the various Lebanese constituencies has its own conception of Lebanon's role in the regional and international environment. Consequently, each of these groups have allied themselves with regional or international powers to strengthen their position within the state. In 1975, the country erupted in a civil war which would not end for a decade and a half In that time, an estimated 130,000 to 150,000 people were killed. Although the war ended in 1990, the conflict continued both internally and externally, with Syria and Israel.
Syria is chiefly populated by Arabs, who constitute 90 percent of the population. The Kurds are the largest non-Arab minority. The overwhelming majority of the Syrian population is Sunni Muslim.
Syria is a mixed economy based on agriculture, trade, mining, and manufacturing. Syria is primarily an agricultural society. Most workers are either crop farmers or herders. Although the government controls the marketing of major agricultural commodities, the industry is dominated by the private sector. Unfortunately, it is also inefficient. Syria is heavily dependent upon aid from the other Arab nations, namely the oil-producing states.
In the mid-1950s, Syria appeared increasingly anti-Western and pro-Soviet. Early in the decade, Syria had grown close to Egypt and discussed a possible federation. The attacks on Egypt in 1956 by Israel, Britain, and France intensified the growing Syrian resentment toward the West. The following year, Syria denounced the Eisenhower doctrine and attacked Turkey for its US alignment. In 1957 Syria accepted increasing aid from the USSR. In 1961, Syria and Egypt united as the United Arab Republic (UAR), with Nasser of Egypt as president. Syria severed all ties with the US shortly after the Six-Day war, and did resume relations until after the Yom Kippur War in 1973. In order to maintain the conflict with Israel, Syria split with Egypt during its settlement with Israel in 1975. Instead, it strengthened its ties with Jordan, and then with the USSR when it signed a 20-year treaty of friendship and cooperation in 1980. In addition to Israel and Lebanon, Syria also had trouble with Iraq, because of its support of Iran during their war. The US has not yet lifted restrictions on Syria, because of terrorist suspicions.
The territory of Turkey has been home to ethnically and culturally distinct groups from the ancient Hittites to Romans and Arabs. The forebearers of the modern Turk came from Central Asia in the 1200s and imposed the Turkish language and culture on the population. Turkish remains the official language, and 99 percent of the population is Muslim.
Farming still engages nearly half of the labor force. However, the manufacturing sector has grown considerably. The government maintains a great deal of influence over the economy and owns several important industries.
After World War 11, the USSR attempted to include Turkey in its sphere of influence, demanding control of its eastern provinces and the straits. In response, Turkey accepted aid from, and entered a close military and economic alliance with the United States. Despite its own internal chaos, Turkey remained faithful to its alliance with the West, providing military bases for NATO and the US.
Just over one-half of the people of Iran are Persians, the descendants of the original Indo-Europeans who overran the Middle East in 500 BC. The remaining population is mixed, with Arabs accounting for just 3 percent. The official language of Iran is Modern Persian, or Farsi. The official religion of Iran is the Shiite branch of Islam, which is followed by more than 95 percent of the population.
The Iranian economy is dominated by the petroleum industry. This sector led to very rapid growth of the entire Iranian economy in the 1960s and 1970s. In the late 1970s, however, the country was involved in a civil war as Islamic religious leaders fought to overthrow the Shah's opressive monarchy. In 1979, they succeeded in establishing a republic. The Iraqis took advantage of their vulnerable state, prompting a war which lasted until 1988. The turmoil of the decade, and a decline in oil prices sent Iran into an economic downspiral. Iran has broadened its prospects and is now recovering and growing.
Iran was located at the very core of the Cold War in the Middle East. Because of its contiguity to the USSR, Iran was intimately concerned by the territorial issues at stake with the onset of the Cold War. Immediately following World War 11, Iran had to choose to align with either the US or the USSR. Iran chose the United States, and maintained this relationship through the 1970s. However, the Iranian revolution in 1979 disposed of the US as well as the Shah. The new regime ended the country's close relationship with the United States, which even resulted in a hostage crisis. This divergence contributed to a soft US backing of Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war. In 1990, under a new leader, Iran began to rebuild relations with the United States. However, in 1995, the US cut all trade and investment in Iran because of their nuclear proliferation and terrorist acts.
Three-quarters of the Iraqi population is Arab. Kurds comprise the rest of the population and live in the highlands of the country, virtually isolated. Approximately 95 percent of Iraq is Muslim, and Arabic is the official language.
Agriculture is the mainstay of the population, but the economy is largely based on petroleum. Most economic institutions are either owned or controlled by the government. Virtually all sectors of the economy suffered as a result of Iraq's war with Iran in the 1980s, which left the country with a foreign debt exceeding $75 billion. The economy was further devastated by the UN trade embargo following its invasion of Kuwait.
Over the years, Iraq has participated in all the Arab-Israeli conflicts, although not as a leading force. In the last two decades, it has been involved in several conflicts with its Arab neighbors as well. Long-time friction with Iran erupted in the Iran-Iraq which lasted throughout the 1980s, leaving I million dead and 1.7 million wounded. In 1991, Iraq invaded Kuwait and alienated the United States in the process. Iraq had always maintained turbulent relations with the US, ranging from an endorsement of the Eisenhower doctrine in 1957, to the severance of all diplomatic ties during and immediately following the Six-Day war. Poor relations continue today, as Iraq refuses to comply with disarmament agreements.
Islam is the official religion of Kuwait, thus all citizens are Muslim. However, less than
40 percent of the population are native Kuwaitis. The remainder of the population are foreign workers who are not citizens of any country. The official language is Arabic, which is spoken by all citizens. English is also taught in Kuwaiti schools.
Kuwait is completely dependent upon its petroleum. The dry climate and barren soil have made farming nearly impossible. Large oil revenues have enabled Kuwait to develop industries and a comprehensive social program for its citizens. Kuwait has one of the highest GNP per capita in the world.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Kuwait was a strong voice in support of Arab nationalism and Palestinian claims to a homeland. Kuwait's only direct conflict came in 1990, when Iraq accused Kuwait of exceeding OPEC production quotas and demanded that it drop the debt Iraq owed from its war with Iran. The confrontation resulted in the Persian Gulf War, in which the United States played a major role.
Saudi Arabia is mainly composed of Arabs whose ancestors have lived in the area for centuries. The national language is Arabic, and virtually all Saudis are Muslims. The great majority of these Muslims are of the Sunni sect.
Petroleum is by far Saudi Arabia's most dominant characteristic - is the world's leading exporter of oil. Saudi Arabia's reserves exceed over 260 billion barrels, which is over one quarter of the world's supply. Through the sharp increase in oil prices in 1973, Saudi Arabia began to amass a tremendous cash reserve. The government has used this new found wealth to diversify its industrial base and improve its basic economic structure.
Saudi Arabia has maintained a close relationship with the United States since its inception. In 1945, it joined the LJN, and although it opposed the creation of Israel, it only took a small role in the resultant fighting in 1948. Saudi Arabla's only significant inter-Arab conflict has been with Egypt. The Six-Day war seemed to mend this relationship, as the Saudis expressed full support for Nasser, dispatched 20,000 troops, and suspended oil exports to the US and Britain. Diplomatic ties were never broken with the US, though. In 1990, Saudi Arabia provided for temporary deployment on its own territory of hundreds of thousands of US and allied troops, and contributed forces to the forces that fought Iraq in the Persian Gulf War.
Palestine, the historic region, is situated on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Today, it is largely divided between Israel and the Israeli-occupied territories. The peoples who have occupied the area have always been referred to as "Palestinians". In the late 1800s, the Palestinian population was 95 percent Arab. As a result of the Zionist movement, massive waves of Jews began immigrating into the area, creating a strong Palestinian (Arab Palestinian) opposition in the process.
The tension grew as it became more and more certain that Jews would be granted a home of their own. The Palestinians refused to accept Jewish statehood and the proposal for a partition. Immediately after the state of Israel was established, five Arab armies came to the aid of the Palestinians and attacked it. Although the Palestinians outnumbered the Jews (1,300,000 to 600,000), the latter were better prepared for the war, and defeated the Arab force. In the process, Israel expanded its lands, Egypt took the Gaza strip, Jordan took the West Bank, and 780,000 Palestinian refugees were created. The disinherited Palestinians spread throughout the neighboring countries, where they have maintained their national identity and the desire to return to their homeland.
In May of 1964, the Palestine Liberation Operation (PLO) was formed to "recover their usurped homes" and replace Israel with a secular Palestinian state. In its early years, the PLO was based mostly in Jordan, from which it sponsored many commando and terrorist attacks inside Israel. These raids drew increasingly devastating reprisals on Jordan, and as a result Jordan and the PLO entered a brief war in 1970, after which many fled to Lebanon. Like in Jordan, the PLO became a state within a state, and contributed to Lebanon's disintegration into civil war. In 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon to stop the PLO raids from across the northern border. The invasion weakened the organization, and scattered its members across the Middle East.
In an effort to gain US favor and the opportunity to discuss peace and self-rule, the PLO recognized Israel's sovereignty in 1988. The PLO lost a lot of its bargaining power in 1991, when it supported Iraq during the Gulf War. However, in 1993, Israel and the PLO revealed a surprise peace accord that opened the way for limited Palestinian self-rule in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
US Middle Eastern Policy:
While German and Japanese surrender had brought the close to one great war in 1945, it also marked the onset of another, the Cold War. World War 11 had forever changed the international balance of power, leaving the United States and the USSR to dominate the world's political scene.
This fact had a profound impact on US foreign policy, including policy toward the Middle East. During the Cold War, US foreign policy was completely dependent on Soviet strength, position, and action. For this reason, the Cold War divided modem US foreign policy towards the Middle East into two distinct periods: policy during the Cold War and policy after the Cold War.
US Middle Eastern Policy During the Cold War:
After a century of friendship, Americans and Russians became archenemies in 1917 when the Communists seized power, established the Soviet Union, and declared ideological war on the capitalist nations of the West. The two countries joined to fight the Germans in World War 11, but this union dissolved when the Russians used its forces to gain control of Eastern Europe towards the end of the war. In response, the US moved to unite the rest of Europe under American leadership. The competition and conflict between these two nations would characterize the geopolitical climate for the next 40 years, as they both struggled advance their own influence, while stunting their enemy's. Ultimately, the Cold War was a conflict between two ways of life, two variant, competitive, and incompatible definitions of modernity.
The overriding concern of American foreign policy following World War 11 was finding an effective way to check Soviet expansion and influence throughout the world. In the Middle East, this meant preventing the Soviets from filling the void left by the end of Britain and France colonialism. The second major interest in foreign policy was to maintain and strengthen access to facilities and resources in the Middle East. The Middle East is a crossroads which links three continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa. Consequently, the US has been interested in its many strategic locations, which include waterways like the Turkish Straits, the Persian Gulf, and the Suez Canal. Perhaps even more important than these positions, however, is the region's vast petroleum reserves. The significance of this resource to an industrialized nation cannot be overstated. Without oil, the United States' force would be crippled, and probably disabled completely.
In an effort to achieve these two main objectives, the United States developed two doctrines to serve as means to those ends: (1) the promotion of peace and stability, and (2) the recruitment of partners in the Middle East to help contain Soviet expansion. Policymakers reasoned that chaos and commotion in the region would allow the Soviets to promote and foster their ideals in unstable, conflicted states. Thus, by preventing change, the Russians are blocked and the US has a chance to facilitate control. Recruitment of regional partners also worked toward this same end. This effort would preserve the territorial and political status quo, halting any Soviet progress.
THE PROMOTION OF PEACE AND STABILITY:
The United States first implemented the peace doctrine in 1950, amidst strong Arab-Israeli tensions, The US made an effort to maintain the status quo by promoting stability and deterring regional warfare with the Tripartite Declaration. The US joined Britain and France in issuing this statement of policy which sought to keep military capabilities reasonable, to promote peace and stability generally, and to prevent changes in the established boundaries via military force. The declaration was a rudimentary and ineffective way of keeping peace, however, it was a clear statement of Western foreign policy.
In a blatant contravention of the Tripartite Declaration, Britain and France conspired with Israel to attack Egypt and overthrow Nasser. The conflict came to a head in 1956, when Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal, which the British and French had invested heavily in. Israel responded by invading the Sinai Peninsula, and British and French forces established control over the canal within days. The attack was met with an immediate condemnation by President Eisenhower, which represented a steadfast adherence to the Tripartite Declaration as the means to maintaining peace and stability.
In the early 1960s, the United States made another effort to promote peace and maintain the status quo in the Middle East. President Kennedy made a concerned attempt to sympathize for a broad range of states. More specifically, Kennedy tried to repair US relations with the Arab states by making overtures to Nasser in Egypt, and by reaffirming continuing support in Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Israel was dealt with in a broader context of building good relations with many states. Like the Tripartite Declaration and the Suez crisis, these moves did not lead to a significant improvement of the relations with the Arab nationalist countries. However, these policies did affirm the US commitment to its policy of peace and stability.
REGIONAL RECRUITMENT AND SOVIET CONTAINTMENT:
The United States also closely followed the recruitment policy in the beginning of the Cold War. During World War 11, Allied troops occupied Iran in order provide an overland route through Iran which allowed for shipment to the USSR. In 1945, when more effective routes were secured, Iran requested that the troops withdraw. After prolonged negotiations, the US, Britain, and the Soviets consented. In June of that year, the USSR refused to leave and began to press Iran for the immediate formation of a Soviet-Iranian oil company. Intimidated by the force of the request and worried about its proximity to the Soviets, Iran turned to the United States for help. This indirect confrontation was the first significant conflict of the Cold War. The US responded with its support, and Iran rejected the Soviet offer and denied subsequent Soviet encroachment. The United States succeeded in containing the Soviets, and in creating a tie with the Shah of Iran which bound the two nations until his deposition in the Iranian revolution of 1979.
Undeterred by the conflict over Iran, the Soviets pressed their interests in other Northern Tier countries like Greece and Turkey. The United States responded in March of 1947 with the Truman Doctrine. The doctrine provided over $400 million in aid to Greece and Turkey to help them repel the ominous communist force. This proposal formed the initial basis of Soviet containment in the Middle East. The effect on Turkey was particularly successful. Throughout most of the war, Turkey remained faithful to its alliance with the West, providing military bases for NATO and US forces. In the case of these northern countries, the US hoped to create a barricade of sorts to inhibit Soviet expansion into the heart of the Middle East.
The US sought to reproduce this success of the regional recruitment policy in other Middle Eastern states. In 1955, Iraq joined Turkey, Britain, Pakistan, and Iran in a five-year defense treaty named the Baghdad Pact. Although the United States was not a member, the Pact had been designed by US officials, and the US was represented on various committees. The US had pushed for the settlement to align Iraq with the west and reinforce Western ties with the other Arab countries. Unfortunately, the Baghdad Pact was largely ineffective. The Iraqis left the alliance early, and their presence had not enticed any other Middle Eastern countries to join.
Ironically, US efforts to block Soviet expansion by enlisting unions with the Northern Tier countries left the southern Arab countries open to USSR influence. Despite Eisenhower's intervention in the Suez crisis, US relations with Egypt had deteriorated and the Soviets were making significant inroads there.
Egypt was particularly important in the Middle East. Undoubtedly, it was the central Arab nation, and thus, took the leadership position in most all the Arab-Israeli conflicts. An anti-West sentiment was growing throughout the Arab nations, so Nasser was using the Soviets to advance his agenda. This alliance could quickly spread to the rest of the Arab countries, and so the United States responded immediately. On January 5, 1957, President Eisenhower asked Congress to authorize economic and military assistance to any country in the area that requested it, and to approve the employment of American troops to protect states "against armed aggression from any nation controlled by international communism." The proposal was soon passed, and became known as the Eisenhower Doctrine. Once again, the US was trying to expand its pro-Western base and contain the Soviets.
Although the doctrine seemed appropriate from the US perspective, it demonstrated little interest in the concerns of the Arab countries. It focused almost exclusively on the American preoccupation with the Cold War. In contrast, the USSR expressed considerable sympathy for the Arab position, especially with respect to Israel, a stance which the US would not be able to take.
By the 1960s, the American relationship with the Middle East, and the Arab world in particular, had deteriorated. Attempts to bring key countries into the US security system had failed in the absence of a realistic regional approach. Aside from the successes in the Northern Tier, the US had made relatively insubstantial progress in promoting peace and stability and enlisting regional partners to strengthen its position in the Cold War.
Unsatisfied with progress in the Middle East, the US took a new approach to the same designated tasks of peace and regional recruitment. Although the results were often more dramatic, ultimately the new mentality was probably no more effective. It can be best characterized by the new proactive stance it took in the Arab-Israeli conflict through a commitment to Israel.
This relationship has been the most consistent and least questioned aspect of the US Middle East policy. Just prior to, and following its independence, the question of Israel was a controversial one in the United States. Policymakers knew that the creation of a Jewish state in an Arab world would destabilize the Middle East and facilitate Soviet intrusion. However, the pro-Israel pressure was tremendous. Before long, Jewish forces had convinced politicians and the country to support Israel. Key officials were subject to a constant barrage of pro-Israel figureheads and Jewish leaders. In addition, the Jewish community were a substantial and powerful contingency for elected politicians and for hopefuls in elections. Graphic images served as reminders to the general population of the hardships and suffering the Jews endured during the war. The country was gradually consumed in the pro-Israel sentiment. On a more subtle level, the nation was naturally more inclined to support the Jews: the Arab culture, and consequently their situation was "foreign" and difficult for Americans to identify with. All of these factors contributed to a momentum which ultimately left policymakers without any choice but to support the new nation.
Despite this strong support for Israel, the policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict was subordinated to the broader policy of holding the line against Soviet advance by building a more active system of containment. This was the commitment, in theory. The United States wanted to project an image of impartiality. However, the relationship with Israel polluted that image, and contributed to a general feeling of distrust by the Arabs.
In the meantime, the US felt that they had "lost" Egypt to the Soviets, who were now supplying Nasser with military aid. The US perceived the relationship as a threat, and reacted by selling defensive weaponry to Israel in 1962. In 1966, the strained relationship with Egypt was severed altogether when the United States decided on a policy of noncooperation. The US ceased aid and refused to help Cairo locate funds for development projects. At the same time, the alliance with Israel was strengthened. The US started selling offensive weapons to them, despite a legal restriction against the sale of anything but defensive weapons. Convinced that Egypt was the major threat to American interests in the Middle East, the US tacitly consented to an Israeli military assault on Egypt as a way of dealing with Nasser's blockade of the Strait of Tiran. An Israeli victory would discredit Nasser, and possibly destroy the relationship with the Soviet Union. It was imperative that Israel win, though, because a defeat would achieve just the opposite. Hence, the US shipped military equipment and ammunition to Israel to facilitate the invasion.
Through its actions, the United States showed that the benefits of close ties with Israel were usually considered more important than strained relations with the Arabs. War was not a good long-term solution, but the US was satisfied with the situation after the war. The US sought to preserve this balance of power, which served as a kind of status quo. The stalemate would postpone conflict resolution indefinitely and help guarantee the retention of the occupied territories.
In addition to using Israeli in order to stall political action in the Middle East, the US was willing to use her as an indirect military force. In September of 1970, civil war broke in Jordan between the PLO and King Hussein. The conflict soon had global implications as the US assumed that the Soviets were using the upstarts as surrogates in an effort to dethrone the king. President Nixon's exact assessment was that “We could not allow Hussein to be overthrown by a Soviet-inspired insurrection. If it succeeded, the entire Middle East might erupt in war.... the possibility of a direct US-Soviet confrontation was uncomfortably high. It was a ghastly game of dominoes, with nuclear war waiting at the end." Unable to send US troops, Nixon alerted the Israelis to be ready to act if necessary. The troops did mobilize, however it war was averted as the PLO backed down.
The partnership with Israel had been reaffirmed, and the relationship really became an alliance which the US would not abandon. The United States was also committed to the stalemate in the Middle East as a temporary solution to the goals of peace and Soviet containment. Therefore, despite vigorous attempts by Anwar Sadat, the new president of Egypt, to demonstrate his moderation and interest in developing a relationship, the US showed no interest. Confronted with Arab nationalism and a desire to regain the occupied territories, and unable to break the impasse by political means, Egypt moved toward military action. On the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur in 1973, Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia attacked Israel. Although Israel ultimately prevailed, the attack had caught them off-guard. The war and the ensuing oil embargo scared the United States and forced them to reconsider the stalemate policy and their alliance with Israeli relations.
Following the Yom Kippur War, the Nixon administration moved to alter the US relationship with the Arab nations by playing a more active and less partisan role in truly resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict. This change was still in a theoretical stage in the 1970s. However, it was a good first step towards real peace, which became a realistic possibility with the decline of the Soviet Union and the Cold War in the 1980s.
The Middle East hosts an extremely complex and convoluted social and political environment. Although the region is newly independent, the people of the Middle East have a full and varied history which dominates most of the political scene. Unfortunately, this history has created rifts and divisions within countries and between countries which has resulted in years of war and revolution. The onset of the Cold War introduced the United States, the Soviet Union, and their respective ideologies into the region as well. The superpowers used the instability and vulnerability of the Middle Eastern countries to advance their own interests. Because of its strategic location and its requisite petroleum resources, the Middle East became the stage for an intense competition between the two superpowers. The dominant theme of this rivalry was Soviet persistence to build a powerful security belt on its southwestern border, accompanied by an American determination to contain that expansion and to construct alliances of its own.
In an effort to check Soviet encroachment and to maintain and strengthen access to strategic positions and resources in the Middle East, the United States adopted a policy to promote peace and stability, and to create regional alliances. The US immediately succeeded in deterring Soviet expansion into its neighboring Northern Tier countries by creating alliances with Iran, Turkey, and Greece. Despite this initial success, the US failed at peace attempts and inroads with other nations. During the first two postwar decades, the United States made relatively insubstantial progress on its Middle East objectives. This ineffectiveness, together with the perceived success of the USSR, led to a change in the methods used to achieve peace and recruitment. Mainly, this change involved a union with Israel which the US would use to realize its goals. This policy also proved inadequate. The alliance strained relations with the Arab countries, thereby facilitating Soviet intrusion. The situation had created a stalemate in the Arab-Israeli conflict which served as a temporary status quo. After the war in 1973, the United States began to consider the possibility of true peace in the Middle East, especially after the weakening of the Soviet Union.
US Middle Eastern Policy Following the Cold War:
All policies that the United States has adopted toward the Middle East, since World War 11, have been configured to contain Soviet aggression. Following the gradual decline of the Cold War, however, the United States policy toward the Middle East has subsequently changed and developed. Instead of acting primarily as a thwarting force against the Soviet Union influence in the Middle East, our foremost role evolved to one of promoting peace and modernization.
There exists much debate as to when the Cold War in the Middle East actually ended and the threat of Soviet aggression ceased. Some argue that this was achieved with Gorbachev's inauguration while others argue that the Soviet threat died with the Iranian Revolution. The period of Soviet absence is paramount to discussion because it directly effects the United States' interests, motivations, and goals in the Middle East. After all, the Soviets were the chief reason the US became involved in the region after World War 11. The Soviet threat gradually died along with the Iranian Revolution, Iran-Iraq War, and the geographical change of Soviet territory in the Middle East.
DECLINE OF THE COLD WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Muhammed Reza Shah Pahlavi came to power in Iran in 1941 with the support of the United States, Great Britain, and France. The United States had a very close relationship with this leader as exemplified by the covert US aid (from the Central Intelligence Agency) to overthrow his enemy, Prime Minister Muhammed Mossadegh. Pahlavi introduced a White Revolution of rapid modern development and socioeconomic reform in the early 1960s. During this time, he introduced many Western ideas, such as equal fights for women and secular education. These new policies stemmed directly from the United States influence of modernization in the area. Iran's position, size, and resource wealth made it a exceedingly important ally to the United States... Iran had become a power of universal importance.
Despite the economic prosperity of Iran in the 1970's, there existed great internal opposition toward the autocratic rule of Pahlavi and the new western ideals, induced mainly by conservative religious leaders. The Shah's reaction to this hostility was quite oppressive as he catalyzed his secret police, the Savak, to subdue all efforts of opposition. The conservative Shiite Muslims, who wanted the nation to be governed by Islamic law, subsequently led riots in several Iranian cities. Their leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a cherished Muslim clergyman and long time adversary of the Pahlavi regime, was also very angered by the foreign influences in the country. According to Khomeini, modem policies introduced by the United States and other foreign influences violated Islamic traditions. By late autumn, the country was essentially in a state of civil war. In January 1979, Khomeini's followers had forced the Shah to flee, marking the end of his 37-year rule over Iran. Khomeini returned and a new constitution was passed that declared Iran an Islamic Republic.
As the political tables turned, the new regime marked the end of the country's close relationship with the United States. Furthermore, when militant Iranians stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and captured 66 American hostages, Iran sentiment could definitely be qualified as anti-American. Iran viewed both the Americans and Soviets as the oppressors and, to the best of their ability, tried to demonstrate that they would not condone such superpower activity. After Iran condemned the Soviet Union for occupying Afghanistan, they had essentially joined both the United States and the Soviet Union against itself Iran, long believed to be the "strategic prize" (Amirahmadi, 49) of both the United States and the Soviets was taking them both on at once. It became even clearer that the flame between United States and Soviets in the Middle East had vanished from the Iran-Iraq War.
In September 1980, the long-standing rivalry between Persian Iran and Arab Iraq exploded as Iraq invaded Iran with hopes of reversing a 1975 border settlement and to gain control of the very rich, oil-producing province of Khuzestan. Saddam Hussein, ruler of Iraq, also feared the religious propaganda that Iran began to spread throughout Iraq, Khomeini and most Iranian Muslims belonged to the Shiite sect of Islain and Hussein feared this propaganda because Iraqi Shiites comprised 60 percent of the country's population. The United States and the Soviets, thus, tilted toward the support of Iraq, intending to contain the spread of Khomeini's revolutionary intentions. "Indeed, throughout the eight years of the Iran-Iraq war, the USSR and USA were supporting the same side, Baghdad, against Khomeini's revolutionary programme"(2).
Clearly from both the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the Iran-Iraq War, the main division and conflict was not that of the Cold War, but that of the Islamic Revolution and the states that were opposed to it.
Beyond the policy and strategic adjustments that the United States and the Soviets
made, a more broad change in the area had a very powerful effect on the dwindling power of the Soviets in the Middle East. Russia's abandonment of Transcaucasia and Central Asia greatly contributed to their strategic retreat from Middle Eastern affairs. For the first time in two centuries, Russia lacked a common border with the Middle East. "[Russia] became a country with a policy relationship more like that of Western European countries - Britain, France, Germany - and more dependent on whatever economic links it could build from afar” (Yezik, 20). This geographic retrenchment of Russia certainly marked an important limitation for economic, political, and military relations in the Middle East.
The Islamic Revolution in Iran, the Iran-Iraq War, and Russia's geographical change all contribute significantly to the end of Soviet threat in the Middle East. Again, this is critical in the shaping of U.S. involvement and policy in the Middle East.
U.S. CHANGING POLICY WITH ABSENCE OF SOVIET THREAT
Without the Soviet threat in the Middle East or challenges from other opposing nations, the United States gained the opportunity to give more attention to its core interests in the Middle East: peace and oil. Richard Burt, director of the State Department's Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs under Reagan's administration, stated the nation's prime interests in the Middle East during a subcomniittee meeting on March 23, 198 1. At the very top of the list was to, "Ensure continued western access to the oil of the Gulf in adequate quantity and at a reasonable price"(Wells, 7). The US dependence on Middle Eastern oil imports is the subsequent reason to devote much attention to peace in the area.
In developing a plan called, "A Political Military Strategy for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia," Bruce Kuniholm emphasizes the U.S. dependency on oil in the Middle East. He states, "The continued stockpiling of oil, together with the U.S. failure to establish a comprehensive energy program, underscores the vulnerability of the United States to embargoes and other political/military measures that could disrupt the flow of oil from the Gulf '(Wells, 306). It is certainly an imminent reality that the United States has been and will continue to be economically dependent on the region. Thus, the U.S. must work very hard to develop peace in order to maintain a constant flow of oil at a reasonable price.
With the ending rivalry with USSR (and especially after the Gulf War), U.S. foreign policy now had the opportunity to spread peace by (1) advancing the Arab-Israeli peace process, and (2) by having the ability to select which countries to deal with. The significant peace processes that ensued during this time period include the Camp David negotiations (and resulting Israeli-Egypt peace treaty), the Israel-Syria peace treaty and the more recent Israeli Palestinian peace treaty.
The Camp David negotiations were an attempt by President Carter to develop some sort of resolution to the ongoing strife in the Middle East and, specifically, between Israel and Egypt. The invasion of Israel in the Six-Day War and Egypt's response, the Yom Kippur War, had engendered much impending disharmony between the two countries. In September 1978, Carter met with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in Camp David, Maryland. Together, the three of them agreed on a framework for peace later named the Camp David Accords. The treaty required that Israel withdraw entirely from the Sinai Peninsula, land taken from the Six-Day War invasion. It was signed in Washington D.C. on March 26, 1979.
Another example of the United States policy and actions as the "superpower moderator," is the Israeli-Palestinian peace accord. This treaty also began as a result of territory that the Israelis seized in the Six-Day War. The territories under dispute lie in the southern portion of the West Bank which Israel call Judea and Samaria, their earlier names. In 1993, the Israeli-Palestinian peace accord was established and, as a result, most of the portion of Judea was transfer-red to the Palestinians by December 1995.
These are some of the many examples that exhibit the United States' "fatherly" moderation role in the Middle East resulting from the termination of Soviet threat. In order to ensure that our tap to the Middle Eastern oil fields, it has been crucial that the United States work to the best of its ability to promote peace.
ANALYSIS OF U.S. POLICY AND POSITION IN THE MIDDLE EAST:
The potency of the United States as a catalyst for peace in the Middle East, however, can be disputed. Certainly the obstacle thwarting the United States gospel of peace is the insecurity of the Middle Eastern countries to trust the U.S., and each other. According to Richard Burt, "Only when local states feel confident of U.S. reliability and secure against Soviet threats, will they be willing to take necessary risks for peace"(Wells, 7). President Reagan sought to form consensus with certain countries including Turkey, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel. Unfortunately, however, this becomes an unlikely venture for Arab countries because of the longstanding U.S. support for Israel. Arab nations have viewed the United States only as an "accomplice"(Security 7) to Israel in its political decisions. The Arab perception that Israel could lobby tremendous U.S. military and economic support agitates these countries even more and assuredly weakens the United States role as a mediator / policy implementor.
The US still had certainly made progress in the advancement of the Arab-Israeli peace process, however, no major investment was made to amend the lurking strife in the Gulf Region. Many historians condemn the lack of U.S. strategy and action to maintain peace in this unstable region. The United States devoted most of the foreign policy effort to establishing peace between Israel and its adversaries instead. It appears, however, that not much could have been done in order salvage the reckless Gulf region. This demonstrates the fact that long-term interests of the United States are threatened just as much by Soviet aggression into the Middle East as local rulers who only represent their class interests and present "United States as an accomplice in oppressive internal policies"(Wells, 9). Such is the situation that developed in the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the Persian Gulf War.
U.S. POLICY AND THE PERSIAN GULF WAR
The border that Iraq and Kuwait shared in the Middle East had been a long-time focus of tension between the two countries. Kuwait was a part of the Ottoman Empire in the 18th Century until it received British protection in return for autonomy in local affairs in 1899. Britain granted Kuwait independence in 1961. The constant clashes at the Iraq-Kuwait border were a direct result of Iraq's claim that Kuwait had been governed as a part of the Ottoman Empire in a southern province of Iraq and, thus, belonged to Iraq. This claim certainly had little historical basis, however, exacerbated both countries' relations and led to Iraq's invasion in 1990.
On August 2, Iraq had assumed control of Kuwait City and subsequently installed a puppet government. Immediately, the United States and the entire world began to develop strategies to contain Iraqi's rash inclination to further warfare (with chemical weapons and missile attacks). Iraq had strategically stationed troops to strike against Saudi Arabia and many Arab countries, including Egypt and Syria, were very intimidated by Iraqi threats.
The United States, acting as the superpower moderator, sent more than 400,000 troops a week after the invasion. The U.S. was soon joined by 2OO,OOO troops from Saudi Arabia, Great Britain, France, Kuwait, Egypt, Syria, Senegal, Niger, Morocco, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the UAE, Qatar, Oman, and Bahrain. Other countries contributed to the cause by commuting ships and air force. These countries include Canada, Italy, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Nor-way, Portugal, Spain, Czechoslovakia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Poland, and South Korea. Japan and Germany also contributed financially. The United States led the force that eventually caused the collapse of Iraqi resistance and the recapture of Kuwait on February 28.
The United States policy and intentions toward the Gulf Crisis were perceived as leading a "moral crusade" against Saddam Hussein's despotic oppression. President Bush even rallied the nation by comparing Saddam Hussein to Hitler. Although this "moral" portrayal was accelerated much by both the Bush administration and the media, it represented a distortion of reality: the United States had much to gain and uphold from its involvement in the Gulf Foremost acting as the major (1) moderator and (2) oil client, this Crisis required U.S. involvement in order to maintain access to oil reserves and the integrity of its alliance system in the Middle East. This also provided an opportunity for the United States to offset its declining power in the global economy and to make it clear to the Middle Eastern countries that the United States is boss.
US Middle Eastern Policy in the Post-Gulf War Era:
The void in direction since the end of the Cold War that continued during the Gulf War and is still evident today, has left in its wake numerous unanswered questions of what the role of the United States should be. The Middle East in particular has been of particular concern. Specifically the case of Iraq presents the most dangerous situation. It is a very volatile region where tensions are easily flared. Although the allies, led by United States' forces easily handed defeat to Saddam Hussein and his troops, danger still remains not only from Iraq, but the whole Middle East. There are serious issues and agendas for the United States to consider today. Issues of critical importance that need to be investigated are, what are the U.S. interests in the region, what are the strengths and weaknesses of the United States' armed forces capabilities, what is essential to protect interests, and finally what would be a goal or recommendation for the United States to ascertain in the future.
GULF WAR BENEFITS:
What did the United States gain as a result of Desert Storm? According to General Schwarzkopf, "We have thrown back aggression and restored conditions in which interests of regional stability can be pursued and advanced. " Therefore we have created a more peaceful environment in which the region was secure for economic prosperity. It also enabled the military to test its new technologies, which it had been developing since the end of the Vietnam War, in an active theater of conflict. The recent shift in the global environment during the past decade has forced the Department of Defense (DOD) to alter its practices. No longer is the United States threatened by a global superpower such as the former Soviet Union. Today, the risks and dangers stem from regional conflicts that require smaller, better trained and equipped forces that are able to neutralize threats before they escalate into larger situations. The politics that correspond to the end of the Cold War has mandated reductions in military spending across the board. This puts a strain not only on current forces, but eliminates the prospect for growth and innovation, or a revolution in military affairs (RMA). Originally coined the "Offset Strategy," it gave the
United States a qualitative advantage that offset the quantitative advantage enjoyed by the Soviets. Although the name has changed to RMA, it still gives flexibility and adaptability in warfare.
The first step in understanding RMA is to look at the technical background. RMA has given the United States a paramount advantage during warfare and peace keeping missions. This has not been more evident then the recent Gulf War. The Iraqi military, with more than I million personnel and four thousand tanks, mainly Soviet built T-72s, was the fourth largest in the world. The war with Iraq was not a case of a larger nation simply bullying over a much weaker military. Iraqi soldiers had fortified their positions within Kuwait establishing a perimeter to the South, on the Saudi Arabia border, and to the East, along the Persian Gulf The United States not only needed to assemble its troops quickly, but once installed, it needed to accomplish its goal of efficiently ejecting Saddam Hussein's forces from Kuwait with little lose to American troops or weaponry. One effective battle plan was established and called for 1) precursors 2.) massive air strikes and 3.) ground warfare. Each level of this plan incorporated technology developed by RMA in the '70s and '80s.
It is important to recap how each element of the plan played in the outcome of the war. The precursors, mainly Tomahawk Cruise missiles, were fired from one of the 60 plus United States' warships situated in the Persian Gulf They disabled most of the Iraqi communications and radar infrastructure and no American lives were put on the line. This created, as former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Shalikashvili put it, "an electronic window," for the F- I 17A Stealth Fighters to fly sorties to further dismantle communications, industry, military headquarters, and main highways. Once the Stealths had destroyed most vital targets, the air attacks started in earnest. Using F-14s, F-15s, F-4s, F-18s, countless refueling tankers, AWACS and JSTARS, the allies bombarded Iraqi targets twenty-four hours a day. This absolutely demoralized the Iraqi ground forces. T-72 commanders instructed their crews to dig their tanks into the desert sand to hide them from allied planes. This was a mistake. Infrared heat sensors on satellites were able to spot the tanks when it turned dusk. As the desert began to cool, the tanks were still warm from absorbing heat during the hot day. They showed up like a sore thumb and the planes destroyed them at night. Once the ground warfare was started, it lasted four days. American tank divisions destroyed Iraqi forces at will. The United States had better armor made from depleted uranium, better munitions that could shoot further, better sighting that could accurately pinpoint a target, faster forces and was better trained. All of these were direct products of RMA started after the Vietnam conflict. This brings us to the political aspects of RMA. After the Vietnam War, there was a bitter resentment toward the United States' armed forces. The military had not been effectively trained for guerrilla warfare and the American people viewed it as a failure. Over the following two decades, especially under the leadership of President Reagan and President Bush, the goal was to re-instill confidence in United States troops, technology, and training. The technology aspect was RMA. The effort to push RMA was mainly from Dr. William Perry who went on to become the Secretary of Defense. Perry was instrumental in creating these "black programs" that gave the armed forces unparalleled capabilities. During the late '70s, the '80s, and early '90s, the stealth program, precision munitions, and more advanced censors that gave the commanders better battlefield awareness were all programs that gave the military a distinct advantage. This advantage helped overwhelming defeat aggressors in Panama and Iraq when they first were tested. The capabilities and success helped boost confidence in the military and demonstrated that the technology could work. Creating such programs under RMA however comes with a tremendous amount of political red tape. Getting funds allocated from Congress is a big enough problem in itself, but information on many of these highly classified programs often are not allowed to be circulated. The popular military belief is that the less that know, the better. However, this irritates congress people who are very reluctant to give billions of dollars to a program that they cannot see or touch.
FNTERESTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST-
The United States has both real and perceived interests in the Middle East. These include economic, political, and militaristic concerns that are vital to the United States. The most blatant tangible interest is oil. Pure and simple oil is beyond plentiful in the region. Underneath the desert sand of Iraq, Kuwait, Iran, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and many more lies the largest concentration of oil. Of course the use of oil is everywhere. It enables transportation, electricity, and heating. Without it the world and all it components would be paralyzed and left nearly useless. The most serious, in the eyes of the United States, would be the crippling of the armed forces. This would make the nation vulnerable both foreign and domestically. Therefore a prime concern for the United States is that the regions oil supply is well guarded and maintained. It noteworthy to acknowledge that the armed forces have stockpiled a substantial amount of oil in the event that the oil market collapse as it did in the mid seventies or a hostile invasion shifts the balance power as seen with Iraq.
Security is another critical interest. This is more of a fuzzy area as the definition of security is vague. It could mean any number of things, but in this case it means the absence of conflict, including war and terrorism both within and outside the borders of the United States. Cases like the bombing of the Cobar Towers in 1996, the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York in 1992, the bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1986, and the bombing of two American embassies in August of 1998 all involved Middle East ties and have led to the questioning of United States security. A major part of the American armed services is forward deployment. If the United States cannot put its troops in foreign countries such as Germany and Saudi Arabia, than its resolve is considerably weakened. The terrorist acts mentioned above were efforts on the part of the Middle East parties to curtail American deployment to their region. They feel that if they can scare the United States, then maybe forces will be retreated. However, whether the United States likes it or not, being the lone superpower in the world requires America to assume some world policing responsibility. The forward deployment ensures that the forces will be ready for any conflict around the world. Therefore it is paramount that the United States have personnel in the region to be prepared for any conflict, but also to protect those troops who are waiting for the next Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Qaddafi, or Saddam. This is what is called a "Preventive Defense" in the corners of the military. After the end of the Gulf War, the United Nations (LJN) placed sanctions on Iraq to prevent it from building weapons of mass destruction. By doing this, the LTN (in this case being an international extension of the United States), is able to hopefully "prevent" more conflict down the road and maintain security for the world's population. However, the recent refusal by the Iraqi government to permit the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) inspectors to search for evidence that weapons of mass destruction are being produced as pushed a confrontation to almost inevitable. Above all else, the United States is concerned with bringing peace to the region. If there were less conflicts in the Middle East it would not only save the country monetarily in short-run with not having to spend on troops deployment and fighting costs, but also human capital of bright American lives. The United States would also be able to earn money long-run from peace as American companies could develop more in the region.
CAPABILITY STRENGTHS IN THE MFDDLE EAST:
The Gulf War demonstrated that a qualitative advantage can have a tremendous impact on a quantitative one. The capability of the United States' military will have a tremendous affect on the post-Gulf War period. The strengths will shape what the interests of the U. S. are in the region and what role it will take. The list includes:
- DECOUPLING OF POLITICAL AND MILITARY RESPONSIBILITY. Most wars that are fought usually have turmoil in command. The question of who is in charge of what leads to controversy as tension increases between political and military leadership. However, during the Gulf War, the United States forces fought with exceptionally effective delegation of responsibility for military decisions to military commanders.
- UNITY OF COMMAND: The planning and operational control of all Coalition forces had a high degree of central command. There was no division of command or separation of operations and intelligence. This was mainly due to the specifically assigned tasks each unit or service was asked to accomplish.
- CREATION OF NEW AIR BATTLE CAPABILITIES:. Advances in aircraft, air munitions, and targeting censors developed from RMA have enabled the United States to rapidly suppress air and ground-based defense systems.
- COMBINED ARMS OPERATIONS, JOINT OPERATIONS: The United States has always been an advocate of using all military services together in one battle plane. This, however, does not always work out. In the Gulf War the armed forces were able to combine their capabilities to rapidly destroy the enemy.
- EMPHASIS ON MANEUVER: After the Vietnam conflict, the United States began to emphasize maneuvers and deception. During the Gulf War, the tactics used were far superior to the Iraqi's and gave the forces positional advantage that help contain and destroy the enemy with more speed.
- EMPHASIS ON DECEIPTION AND STRATEGICAL/TACTICAL INNOVATION:. This includes spy networks that can give intelligence not only on tech capabilities, but also on the thinking process of the enemy hierarchy.
- "24 HOUR WAR”: Once again the tech developed from RMA, such as night vision and heat censors, enabled the Coalition to dominate the fighting, especially at night. The war never stopped and the Iraqis buckled under the relentless onslaught.
- INTEGRATION OF SPACE WARFARE: This includes satellites that enabled the allies to see the overall battle plan in almost real time. This gave a huge advantage as the commanders could see what exactly was going on at any given specific time.
- A NEW TEMPO OF SUSTAINABILITY: Having a "24 Hour" war puts extreme pressure on the logistical side of fighting. Weapons, fuel, equipment needed to be sent all over the Middle East and the supply teams did a fantastic job of keeping the war moving.
- technological superiority in many critical areas of weaponry: This was the biggest advantage to the allies. As mentioned above on RMA, the new advancements demolished the Iraqi army with little damage.
- REALISTIC COMBAT TRAINING AND USE OF TECHNOLOGYAND SIMULA TION: This gives the troops, pilots, and planners a glimpse of what fighting may be like in a certain theater. They are better prepared and there is less risk for confusion when the real battle comes.
- ALL VOLUNTEER MILITARYIHIGHER ENTRYAND CAREER STANDARDS:- This is a critical area. An all volunteer military can perform better. They want to be there and do the job. They are professionals who are heavily trained and promoted on merit forcing them to perform well.
- EmPHsis ON FORWARD LEADERSHIPAND DELEGA TION. United State forces were led from the front of combat, not the rear as the Iraqis. This gave a better understanding of what was happening and allowed for the Coalition to be aggressive.
- HEAvy RELiANcE oNNCOsAND ENLisTED PERsoNNEL: The troops of the United States, especially the Non-Commissioned Officers and the experienced enlisted men, are better educated and trained enabling them to effectively lead and make wise decisions in the field.
- HIGH DEGREE OF OVERALL READiNEss. The United States maintains the highest level of preparation of any force in the world. This comes from training and forward deployment. Forces can react in hours to a conflict any where in the world.
- CLEAR DOCTRINE FOR COLLA TERAL DAMAGE: By avoiding Iraqi civilians, the United States was able to gain a political victory out of the war. The Arab states who had been wary of the United States for years, now saw that the military did not alter its motives to punishing innocent people. This will go along way in creating a peaceful environment in the region.
- MANAGEMENT OF MEDIA RELATIONS: The military controlled the media during the Gulf War.
It seemed to the public that they could see everything with the advent of mass communications like T. V. broadcasts, such as CNN, or the internet. However, the opposite was true. What the public saw was what the military gave them. This was for two reasons. The first is that the media could be used as propaganda to demonstrate how powerful and capable the forces were and are. The second is that the Iraqis could easily have gained valuable knowledge on troop totals, equipment locations, or tactics.
CAPABILITY WEAKNESSES IN THE MIDDLE EAST:
With the successful end to the Gulf War, coupled with the collapse of the Soviet Union the armed forces have faced the possibility of losing a substantial amount of their capabilities. With the collapse of the Soviet empire, as evident with the tearing down of the Berlin Wall in December of 1989, the United Stated has enjoyed being the lone superpower in the world. Some of the weaknesses stem from the lack of effectively destroying enemy capabilities, lack of military intelligence, or simply not being prepared as the United States' military was trained and built to fight the Soviet Union in the plains of Germany and Eastern Europe.
- A ccEpTiNG THE TRUE POLI7ICS OF WAR: This means that the United States cannot always count on defending strategic interests because of naked acts of aggression like Iraq's attack on Kuwait. Tied to this concept is that popular, legislative, international support are conditional and often volatile.
- INTERNAL SECURITY AND POLITICAL WARFARE: The United States cannot rescue any Gulf government from its own people. Ultimately, the position of the United States is dependent on the popular support available to each Gulf regime, popular perception of that regime's legitimacy, and the extent to which each Gulf government maintains a "social contract" with its people them with security, jobs, and hope for the future.
- IsLAmic ExTPEmism. The United States has difficulty understanding the cultural, political, and religious aspects of Islam. This presents problems as to how to deal with the specific states such as Iraq and Iran who will in all probability try to exploit the Western pro-Israeli culture and discredit Southern Gulf states who do not share their views.
- Low-iNTENsiTYREALism. The RMA was designed to destroy weapons and facilities. However, low-intensity wars that require killing of people, not things. The United States demonstrated it had difficulty with this in Somalia and could continue to do so in the Middle East.
- TAKING CASUAL TiEs. The United States public cannot and does not want to see innocent American lives lost in a regional conflict. The success of the Gulf War was quite impressive, however it cannot be expected every time. To maintain a role in the Middle East, the United States must be able to accept some loss of lives.
- INFLICTING CASUALTiES: This is tied to low-intensity realism. The United States must come to grips that it must engage in battles where the enemy will take a substantial loss of life. The leaders of the country must realize that, although there may be some short-term international backlash to killing the enemy and not just their equipment, the military must maintain credibility by engaging the soldiers of the enemy.
- COLLATERAL DAMAGE. The United States must be sure of its targets. It cannot hit or destroy civilians and their facilities. This leads to quite a gray area as leaders such Saddam Hussein put civilians and prisoners of war against their will in military installations to protect them from attack.
- URRAN AND BUILT-UP AREA WARFARE. Western forces are not trained or equipped to deal with sustained urban warfare in populated areas in regional combat.
- MOUTAIN WARFARE AND WARFARE IN ROUGH TERRAIN: Many of the systems that were successful during the Gulf War were due to the fact that the terrain was flat and empty. If the opposite was true, like the case of the Kurds after the war, the outcome would be much less decisive.
- HOSTAGE TAKINC, AND TERRoRism. The United States still has uncertain capabilities with dealing with hostage and terrorists situations.
- SUDDEN ATTACK. Although the United States is the most capable and ready force, Iraq established a paramount advantage by capturing Kuwait without notice. Had Saddam Hussein wanted, he could have made it very difficult for United States' forces into the region if he had captured more land.
- WEAPoN oF mAss DEsTRucTioN:. Little knowledge was known of Iraq's capabilities before the war. Today, Saddam Hussein still gives the United States and the United Nations the run around when it comes to investigating. The extended region is very volatile as the nations are small, but have extremely different cultures and populations. This was seen with the recent arms race that started last spring between India and Pakistan.
- EcoLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL WARFARE. Little preparation goes into preventing this, however it is a major way to achieve large-scale damage and civilian casualties.
- LimiTs oFUNIcoopERATivE COALITION WARFARE. It might not always be as easy as the Gulf War to get widespread international support.
- EXTENDED CONFLICTANDoccupATioNwARFARE. The United States' public also does not like long stays. The people want the young men and women back as soon as the mission is accomplished. However, it certain situations like the case with Iraq it is clear that there will be a need for a presence in the region for some time to come.
NEED FOR STRATEGIC COMMITMENT-
It is clear that the United States will have to remain a power in the region to protect interests around the globe. General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Commander in Chief, United States Central Command, talked about the need for a strategic commitment in his hearing with the House of Representatives' Committee on Armed Service after the Gulf War. He stated,
Looking ahead, it is plain to see that they key to our continued access is the maintenance of a strong U.S. presence in the region. This presence should be a combination of forward deployed forces, prepositioning, security assistance, and combined exercises. The weight accorded each element may be open to discussion, but the necessity of each element should not be questioned.
What the United States, and the world community, should be working toward is a peaceful region united for the common purpose of economic prosperity. The countries of the Middle East are rich with resources. The money earned from oil is tremendous. If the region were able to stabilize politically and militaristically, the region would boom. However, this concept often eludes the leaders who are too busy trying to plot the demise of their neighbors. If they simply realized that all would gain from peace, there is no telling how much the countries could prosper. Once the United States could create a stable environment it would be able to offer suggestions of how to capitalize on their missed opportunities. This however, its easier said then done since the United States presence is not always welcomed with open arms and many of the countries in the region cannot see eye to eye on anything. Yet it still does give something to work toward. What the U.S. should work toward then is to let the region prosper on its own without political interference and a minimal military presence. The country cannot and does not want to remain a police force in the region. It costs too much and puts lives at risk.
Therefore, the question is how does the U.S. accomplish these goals. A good start would be to establish a regional peacekeeping organization that would ensure peace and economic stability. This brings with it both benefits and problems. The advantages are that it would open up dialogue. This was started right before, during, and after the Gulf War as the United States began to forge new bonds with Arab countries in the region. As a result of the Gulf War the United States is poised to accomplish this goal of diplomacy through one regional organization. The foundation to this was supported by the Gulf War according to General Schwarzkopf who stated in his hearing with the Armed Services Committee,
We have both solidified existing and established more favorable relationships with key regional states. The realization that the United States is a good friend and staunch ally will go a long way towards insuring our access to critical facilities in the region. The introduction and sustainment of our Desert Storm forces would have been immeasurably more difficult without the regional bases, ports and infrastructure which were made available to us. Quite frankly, without that access, the defeat of Iraq would have been a far greater challenge.
The major drawback to this plan is that it would be very tough for all the major players to agree to work together for the benefit of all. It would be a tremendous feat of diplomacy to unite Israel with Iraq or Kuwait with Iran. Although it might not all be one large group at first, the organization could start if say five and work to bring new nations on board. These countries could establish favored nation status amongst each other and open their markets to free trade amongst the others thereby gaining from comparative advantage.
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