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American strategic policy for the Indian Ocean area, 1970-1980.

Mitchell, Kimbriel Armistead (1991) American strategic policy for the Indian Ocean area, 1970-1980. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis analyzes America's strategic policy for the Indian Ocean area from 1970 to 1980 and assesses the efficacy of its contribution to the US security objectives there of upholding friendly, primarily Persian Gulf states' security and stability, maintaining access to oil, ensuring the safety of shipping and limiting Soviet influence. Minor intermittent naval display succeeded in balancing the Soviet naval presence, the main purpose of American policy until 1979, because that presence was too small to exercise significant influence. The littoral states, however, were ambivalent: they wanted the US to balance the USSR but feared a potential super-power naval arms race. Naval display failed as part of America's indirect threat in 1973-74 to retaliate against friendly Gulf Arab states if they continued the oil embargo caused by the October 1973 Middle East war. America modified its strategic policy when Gulf security became more precarious after the Iranian revolution in early 1979. It intensified its naval display and began to approximate a land force presence in South-West Asia in order to show greater concern for its interests, to reassure friends about its reliability as a security actor and to enhance the political and military balance against the Soviets. The US emphasized more direct and active deterrence against a potential Soviet or Iraqi attack and preparation for intervention, if necessary, within a friendly Gulf state in order to protect access to oil. America's modified policy gave some reassurance to friendly Gulf states that shipping would be safe, that, available in the background and if requested in a crisis, its armed forces would help them to cope with likely external threats and that the US was more determined to counter the USSR. But America was also perceived to be a political and potential interventionist danger to friendly countries and to be of uncertain reliability in the event of "worst case" Soviet or Iraqi aggression because its immediately available combat capability was weak. The US armed forces were unnecessary and virtually inappropriate for helping friendly regimes to maintain domestic stability or for preserving access to oil. America's strategic policy was of little relevance for limiting the USSR's improvement of its political and strategic position in South-West Asia in the late 1970s, and more direct and active US deterrence reinforced marginally at most the Soviet intention not to attack into the Persian Gulf.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: History, Military
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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