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The US Policy of Dual Containment Toward Iran and Iraq in Theory and Practice

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Master's thesis

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The policy of dual containment has been adopted by the Clinton administration as a method whereby the nations of Iran and Iraq may be simultaneously prevented from embarking upon actions deemed counter to the interests of the international community in general, and the United States in particular. This is a departure from policies of previous administrations which had sought a balance of power between the two nations in order to contain whichever nation seemed to present the greatest threat at the time. The ability of the United States to embark on a strategy of containing these two states at once, is a result of the new world order in which America finds itself as the sole remaining superpower, able to work its will with a degree of impunity heretofore unknown. The problem to be considered here is whether this strategy is indeed appropriate and whether it will achieve the desired outcomes with respect to US security strategy. This paper analyzes the position of the Clinton administration in light of current and historic US interests in the Persian Gulf region. It examines the opinions of various strategists and academicians regarding the policy of dual containment in order to determine if this policy can be an effective one. The conclusion of this research is that a linkage of US policy between the two nations of Iran and Iraq is inappropriate. While the state of Iraq must be contained to prevent its aggressive activities, diplomatic methods should be applied to Iran in the hope of engendering a renewed relationship.

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  • Government and Political Science

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