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The Arabian Gulf and Security Policy: The Past as Present, the Present as Future

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On 9 June 2008, Henry Kissinger spoke about the need for a Middle East policy that was thought out in detail with no vague ideas at its core. He stated that there must be a clear broad strategy so that we understand our strategic objectives. The former Secretary of State made it clear that the U.S. had to deal with the region as it is, not as we want it to be-a reference to poorly conceived ideas about democracy and political transformation.1 Given recent history, consistent policy development and a comprehensive strategy has been difficult because U.S. policy has consistently attempted to ignore the historical fundamentals. This study evaluates the policies of the Arab Gulf states, their contextual historical origins, and their thrust over the next decade. It is not a regurgitation of U.S. foreign policy. The foundational premise is that the present and future must be understood within the context of the collective and individual historical paradigms of the Arab states of the region. The present cannot be understood nor the future predicted without a fundamental, detailed grasp of the past. The past establishes the paradigm for the present and that defines context for the possible developments for the future. This study is a history lesson defining the present and projecting into the future. Secondarily, this effort provides a reference guide to the historical formation of the individual states of the Gulf. It is an informational aid that provides a concise but detailed explanation of the historical relationships and interactions, knowledge of which is consistently considered by Arab Gulf officials to be essential to understanding the region.

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  • Government and Political Science

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