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The Postwar Gulf: Return to Twin Pillars

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Journal article

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Operation Desert Storm, the military campaign that liberated Kuwait, constitutes a watershed in Middle East politics comparable in magnitude to the founding of Israel in 1948. Political, social, and economic forces have been set into motion which will. profoundly influence the region for decades. As leader of the 28-nation coalition victorious against Iraq, the United States will be viewed as responsible both for the success of military operations and for shaping the postwar environment. A common danger of war is that military victory often contains the seeds of future conflict. Therefore, the United States must implement a postwar regional strategy recognizing that the existing security structure has been shattered beyond repair, and that it must be replaced with a sturdier framework capable of protecting the Gulf from future threats. Every US President since World War II has recognized vital American interests in the Gulf, but we have tended to rely on others to protect those interests while concentrating ourselves on the global Soviet threat. Until its 1971 withdrawal from east of Suez, Britain policed the area. Afterward, to fill the resulting void, the Nixon Administration promulgated what came to be known as the Twin Pillar policy of relying on two moderate regional states-Iran and Saudi Arabia-to do the job. The Iranian Revolution effectively eliminated the stronger pillar, Iran now, a decade later, the Iraqi invasion demonstrated the inability of the other, Saudi Arabia, to deter regional aggression. The present postwar flux affords an opportunity to implement a new regional strategy firmly rooted in emerging political reality and based on two sturdier pillars an increased US military presence in the Gulf and the creation of a new regional balance of power.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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