The Politics & Security of the Gulf by Jeffrey Macris

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Click on cover image to purchase a copy

MWSA Review

THE POLITICS AND SECURITY OF THE GULF delivers an excellent, in-depth, hundred year history of British and American involvement in the security of the Arabian Gulf Region.  After a short historical perspective, this scholarly work provides outstanding insight into the basis of that involvement. 

Jeffrey Macris does a superb job in illustrating the changing British and American security and political objectives in the area. Concurrently, he describes how this Western involvement helped shape the region into what it is today.  The author's focus on detail along with his extensive notes and bibliography section make this book a superb resource for students of Middle East history and security.  His narrative approach in setting forth that history makes it an enjoyable, informative read for anyone wanting to learn more about the subject.

I was very pleased that the author kept a sharp focus on historical facts, while leaving political opinions and biases out of the book.  In doing so, he has made this book a far more valuable resource.  I was also impressed that the book included dozens of photographs and the original text of numerous military and political documents to help elaborate and substantiate the author's reporting of historical events.

The book is very well presented.  I would recommend it to everyone who is interested in learning more about this topic.  I would classify it as a must read for students of Middle East history and military history. 

Reviewed by: Bob Doerr (2010)

Author's Synopsis

The United States and its military have fought in three hot wars in the Persian Gulf over the past generation -- the Iran-Iraq War, Desert Storm, and Operation Iraqi Freedom -- but what do we know about what brought our nation to this turbulent and unforgiving region? "The Politics and Security of the Gulf," written by a Permanent Military Professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, looks at two centuries of Persian Gulf history, and how the armies and navies of Great Britain and the United States have shaped the region. The book examines how both London and Washington's leaders tended to three enduring missions in the Gulf: maintaining interstate order, protecting trade, and keeping out other Great Powers. For over a century Britain did this with a relatively modest amount of power -- primarily naval -- while drawing upon its vast Indian army when needed.  After World War II, however, the loss of Britain's empire ultimately forced London to withdraw, and the last of its ships and aircraft withdrew from inside the Strait of Hormuz in 1971. Offered the keys to British military bases, the Americans declined to replace the British as security guarantors for the Gulf. In the vacuum that followed, two decades of political, economic, and military chaos ensued: the 1973 oil crisis, the fall of the Shah, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that portended a possible further thrust toward the Gulf, the Iran-Iraq war, and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.  After each of these foreign policy catastrophes, the United States took an incremental step toward the region. When Washington elected to set up a permanent military presence in the Gulf following 1991's Desert Storm, the U.S. essentially had assumed the same missions that the British had fulfilled in the 19th and 20th centuries: maintaining interstate order, protecting trade, and keeping out other Great Powers.