Title: The Politics and Security of the Gulf: Anglo-American Hegemony and the Shaping of a Region
Author: Jeffrey Macris
Genre: Non-Fiction, Reference
Reviewer: Bob Doerr
ISBN (links go to the MWSA Amazon store): 0415778719
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.