The United States and the Middle East: A Search for New Perspectives

By Hooshang Amirahmadi | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
United States Strategic Policy toward
the Middle East:
Central Command and the Reflagging
of Kuwait's Tankers

Elizabeth J. Gamlen

The last decade has seen a dramatic resurgence in U.S. capabilities to deploy its military forces around the world. Crisis interventions such as those against Grenada ( 1983), Libya ( 1986), and Panama ( 1989) have caught widespread attention, but the centerpiece of this U.S. strategy has in fact been the area denoted South West Asia (SWA) by the United States.

Calls for U.S. military intervention to solve the 1973-74 oil crisis developed by the late 1970s into plans for "quickly deployable forces" to defend U.S. interests throughout the world. However, these plans, which received little funding or attention until the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, prompted Carter to declare the Persian Gulf an area of "vital interest" to the United States, which would, if necessary, be defended militarily (the Carter Doctrine).

This chapter, following a brief overview of U.S. policy toward the Gulf region since World War II, traces the development of Central Command (the military instrument designed to implement the Carter Doctrine) and details its first major application, the escort of Kuwait's reflagged tankers during the latter phase of the Iran-Iraq War.

It assesses the strategic implications of Central Command and in particular the undertaking of these escorts, examining them in

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