The Gulf and U.S. National Security Strategy

Emirates Lecture Series, No. 58, The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, 2005.

This publication is based on a lecture by Lawrence Korb presented on June 6, 2004, at the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research.

No region of the world currently has a larger influence on U.S. security strategy than the Persian Gulf. The importance of Gulf oil and the struggle against terrorism and religious extremism would guarantee the region a prominent place in American strategic planning even if the Bush administration had not decided to invade and occupy Iraq. With this occupation, the Gulf now hosts the largest concentration of American troops in the world, and the region will be central to American security strategy in the near future. This invasion may seem to have fundamentally altered the Gulf's landscape by putting a decisive end to half of the imperatives that shaped the previous administration's policy of the "Dual Containment" of Iran and Iraq. However, numerous strategic features of the region persist, posing crucial questions for American policy makers. This study considers how the Gulf, in the post-Iraq invasion scenario, fits within American security planning by first reviewing the major security issues and then examining how the United States would confront these issues under three different approaches to national security strategy: dominance and preventative action; stability, deterrence and containment; and cooperative world order.

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Lawrence J. Korb

Senior Fellow