Iran: A Traditional and Vital Strategic Asset for the West in the 21st Century

Iran: A Traditional and Vital Strategic Asset for the West in the 21st Century

Traditionally the Americans have always been of the opinion that cultivating closer economic and political ties with Iran, the most powerful state in the Persian Gulf, with its huge population, and industrialization program would serve Western interests better.
Increasingly, Iran began to play an important part in the United States’ strategic thinking, for the protection of the Persian Gulf oil supplies and accessibility to the oil without disruption for producing it. This was, in the face of Soviet threat, and the spread of communism to the Persian Gulf, a view which was shared by other Western Allies, such as the United Kingdom. Ever since the WWII until now, in Western Allies’ view, the United States has been the only country, which could withstand various pressures, such as communism, then, during the Cold War, and now, in the beginning of the Twenty First Century, new challenges. It has therefore been clear to the Western Governments that the United States should take the lead.
In the United States’ view “the proximity of important Soviet industries makes the importance of holding the Eastern Mediterranean-Middle Eastern area obvious.” 1
The Americans believed that direct rule would be potentially detrimental to the interests of America in the Persian Gulf. Direct rule, in the United States’ view in an area as strategically crucial as the Persian Gulf With its huge oil reserves could potentially lead to confrontation with the Soviet Union. The American attitudes towards Iran were:
It is of crucial importance to the United States that Iran remains an independent nation. Because of its key strategic position, and oil resources, loss of Iran would be: (a) A major threat to the security of the entire Middle East, as well as Pakistan and India. (b) Damage the United states prestige in nearby countries and with the exception of Turkey and possibly Pakistan, seriously weaken if not destroy, their will to resist communist pressures. (c) Have serious psychological impact elsewhere in the free world. 2
America’s allies’ view on the defense of the Persian Gulf was also similar to that of the United States. For example, in the words of the British Ambassador in Tehran:
Both the United States and British Governments are of the opinion that armed forces of Iran should have capabilities beyond those of maintaining internal security. 3
Consequently the American policy towards Iran became: “The United States will exert all feasible efforts to prevent the loss of Iran.” 4 Furthermore, according to the State Department, “the United States has a vital interest in assisting free world countries to defend themselves against any subversion”; 5 a policy which was in place until the Islamic Revolution of 1978 in Iran. The Revolution led to the termination of the United States’ ascendancy in the country. This was in the height of East-West tension, as the Soviet Union had already been gaining a strong foothold in Afghanistan.

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