Kennedy, Edward M.
October 1975
Foreign Affairs;Oct75, Vol. 54 Issue 1, p14
Academic Journal
This paper examines the importance of the Persian Gulf region to the arms sales policy of the U.S. The postwar structure of U.S. interests and policies in the Gulf area began to change during the mid-1960s. Furthermore, in the 1960s the rising prosperity of Europe and Japan pushed their dependence on Gulf oil production higher and higher, and by the end of the decade even the U.S. began importing significant quantities of Gulf oil. In approaching the requests of the Gulf nations for massive amounts of arms, U.S. have been guided in part by holdover policies from the pre-1973 period, in part by a general desire to keep firm ties with Iran and Saudi Arabia, in part by the need to shore up the country's balance of payments, and--as a kind of last-resort argument heard more in private than in public--by the belief that if the U.S. do not sell arms to the Gulf countries, some other country will. U.S. involvement in issues of Gulf security, therefore, is real and growing--through both military missions and private contractors, although foreign military aid to the Gulf has come to an end. Western concerns about possible direct Soviet threats to the security of the Gulf are now outweighed by concern about events within and among the local states. Therefore, an arms race between different Gulf states--or even a leveling-off at high levels of armament in several countries--contains built-in risks of increased political tensions or even conflict, by accident or design.


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