Peace or Oil. The Nixon Administration and Its Middle East Policy Choices
Traditionally, the United States has had three main goals in the Middle East: the prevention of Soviet entry and increase of influence in the region; the preservation of the security and existence of Israel; and the protection and guarantee of a constant and uninterrupted supply of oil from the Gulf to the West. Other American goals in the area have been either temporary and thus replaced from time to time, or derivative of these three main goals. These three general objectives are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, as the American diplomatic, economic, and military experience in the area since World War II shows, they sometimes overlap and at other times stand in contradiction to each other. The order of priority, the saliency of each goal, and the intensity in which they are being pursued may differ from one administration to another, affected by changes in governmental ideologies, perceptions, and personal preferences. Regional events, such as wars, economic crises, and peaceful or violent changes in governments in Middle Eastern countries, also affect the order of priority of the various American administrations in their efforts to obtain their goals.
Stability in general and political stability in particular are often cited as the ultimate goals of the Americans in the Middle East because they reinforce favorable conditions for the achievement of the three permanent goals. They represent but one among many forms of means, or strategic considerations, that enable the accomplishment of the real American interests. 1 At times, events that introduce instability to established patterns of politics and collective life in the various regional countries were rather favorable to American interests and were therefore encouraged. 2
The shifts in the attention given by the different administrations to the three