Research Proposal: American Foreign Policy Towards the Persian Gulf

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American Foreign Policy Towards the Persian Gulf

Between 1988 and 2010, American foreign policy in the Persian Gulf was focused on achieving a number of different objectives. As, there was an emphasis on maintaining stability in the region by: supporting regimes and governments that were friendly towards U.S. interests. Part of the reason for this, was because there was a focus on ensuring that the continuous flow of oil remained in place. This is based on the fact, that this natural resource was a vital commodity that the West and the United States needed to continuously receive to maintain economic growth. Otherwise, the odds increased that there was a possibility that there could be some kind of major recession. Some good examples of this can be seen in the 1970's with: the Arab oil embargo that was based on U.S. support of Israel and the dependency that the nation had on the supplies coming out of Iran when the Shah was deposed in 1979. In both situations, this sent shockwaves around the globe that had a major impact on the U.S. economy by forcing it into a recession. (Crane 1 -- 16)

As a result, the foreign policy of the nation towards many countries in the Persian Gulf was to ensure that the continuous flow of oil. This has shaped these kinds of decisions by: focusing all the different administrations on achieving this objective in one way or another. (Crane 1 -- 16) This is significant, because this approach has caused the U.S. To engage in a number of different actions are designed to support this goal at any cost. To fully understand the impact that this is having on U.S. foreign policy in the region, we will examine how this has been the driving force for a host of activities that were support by: different Presidents from 1988 into 2010. Once this occurs, it will provide the greatest insights as to how oil production has been influencing these decisions over the years.

Literature of Similar Studies

To corroborate the views that oil is the main driver of U.S. foreign policy in the Persian Gulf. We will look at a number of different pieces of literature on the subject. This will illustrate how this has played a major role in determining the foreign policy actions that were taken during that time. At which point, we will have a more precise comprehension of the role that oil is playing in any kind of strategic decisions that are made inside Washington between: 1988 and 2010.

The first piece of literature on the subject can be found with Oystein (2007); he discusses how hostile nations such as Iran and Iraq (prior to the U.S. invasion 2003) were considered to be the biggest threats to U.S. oil interest in the region. This is because, both countries engaged in terrorism and other activities that were designed to increase their influence throughout the Middle East. This is problematic, because if they were able to gain any kind of influence this would have a dramatic impact on the flow of oil into the United States. As a result, the U.S. has been focused on supporting allies that may not practice Western ideals (i.e. The protection of human rights and democracies). However, they are in favor of ensuring that there is a continuous supply of crude oil and do not like nations that are trying to interfere with these objectives. This is important, because during the Iran -- Iraq War the U.S. took a position of neutrality by playing the two sides against one another. As, they were happy to see these two adversaries fight each other, based on the fact that it limited their ability to gain any kind influence in the region. At which point, the U.S. could continue to receive steady oil exports from the Persian Gulf. (Oystein 52 -- 101)

Moreover, the piece of literature that was written by Askari (2006), talks about how U.S. foreign policy in the region has been historically shifting. Yet, it has always remained in place to ensure that oil exports will continue to flow uninterrupted. This has influenced the United States' role in the region, as they will often take military actions to prevent a nation that is hostile to the U.S. from gaining control of this supply. Some examples that he discusses are: the 1991 Gulf War, the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and preventing Iran from acquiring any kind of nuclear technology. At the same time, they are also supporting regimes in places such as: Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other gulf states that are known to have repressive governments. This has caused the foreign policy to be based on finding and helping counties that will support this objective. While at the same time; taking either covert or direct military action to prevent hostile nations from being able to have some kind of strategic advantage. (Askari 8 -- 52)

Research Questions and Hypothesis

The various pieces of literature that we are looking at are a major factor in illustrating the overall approach of U.S. policy in: supporting different regimes that are friendly towards American interests. This is significant, because it is highlighting how this is a major strategic advantage that this is offering American authorities tremendous amounts of leverage in achieving this long-term objective. To determine if this kind of approach is the main driver of foreign policy in the region we will look at a number of different research questions including:

What are the actions that were taken by the U.S. To support these long-term goals?

How have the foreign policy objectives of the Iran -- Iraq War, the Gulf War, Iraq War and Bahrain crisis been an example of this kind of focus?

What are the main reasons that are used by different President's to support the continuous flow of oil, while having more popular motivations for supporting a particular action?

These different questions are important, because they will help us to focus on supporting or refuting our hypothesis. At which point, we can be able more effectively understand the different reasons why the U.S. has supported its position and the way they are able to justify it to the general public.

As a result, we will be concentrating on looking at particular avenues for supporting the hypothesis that we will be examining that is listed below:

Since the Arab oil embargo of the 1970's and the downfall of the Shah of Iran, the United States has been increasingly focused on ensuring the continuous supply of oil. This principal objective has been accomplished through: supporting regimes that will help to ensure that this is a reality. While at the same time, it is engaging in direct or covert military actions that depose any kind of governments that are involved in interfering with this support. As a result, this has caused the U.S. To support governments that are known for being dictatorships, which have a spotty track record on human rights abuses. Over the course of time, this has increased the total amounts of instability throughout the Persian Gulf due these questionable practices.

This is important, because the ability to be able to support or refute this hypothesis will help us to see the underlying reasons for the different foreign policy actions taken by the U.S. since 1988.

Theory that might be used to test the hypothesis

To test the hypothesis, we will use what is known as the balance of power theory in international relations. This is when the United States is trying to maintain the current status quo in the region by: supporting governments that are friendly towards these kinds of policies. While at the same time, they will engage in actions that will frustrate the attempts of any groups or organizations to interfere with these objectives.

Evidence of this kind of approach, can be seen by looking no further than observations from Brown (2004). She observed that since the Yom Kippur War in 1973, there have been relatively little changes in the borders of the different nations. The reason why, is because no single country has the power to be able to make dramatic shifts in the underlying conditions on ground. That being said, there have been many attempts by various regimes to transform these boundaries. The problem is that any kind of shifts in the border have been considered to only be temporary. (Brown 302 -- 310)

A good example of this can be seen in the Iran -- Iraq War of the 1980's. As, there were short-term changes in who controlled various aspects of these boundaries. Yet neither country; was never able to capitalize upon: these gains and make significant changes in the political lines within the region. At which point, the borders were redrawn along the traditional boundaries of the past. A similar situation occurred, when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. At the time, they were able to obtain short-term victories by: annexing the country and declaring it a part… [END OF PREVIEW]

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APA Format

American Foreign Policy Towards the Persian Gulf.  (2011, July 31).  Retrieved May 20, 2019, from

MLA Format

"American Foreign Policy Towards the Persian Gulf."  31 July 2011.  Web.  20 May 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"American Foreign Policy Towards the Persian Gulf."  July 31, 2011.  Accessed May 20, 2019.