Essays on American politics and foreign policy

By Donald E. Nuechterlein

Donald Nuechterlein is a political scientist and writer who resides near Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the author of numerous books on American politics and foreign policy, including

  • Defiant Superpower: The New American Hegemony, 2005
  • America Recommitted: A Superpower Assesses its Role in a Turbulent World, 2000
  • A Cold War Odyssey, 1997

INDEX CONTACT

Donald Nuechterlein

LECTURE

JUNE 2005

Military Officers' Association
Charlottesville, May 26, 2005

America and the Middle East:

What are U.S. National Interests?

The United States became involved in major way after World War II:

Saudi Arabia agreed to a strategic relationship in 1945

Moscow exerted major pressure on Iran and Turkey in 1946-47

Britain withdrew from Palestine and Jordan in 1948, and

The U.S. supported creation of the state of Israel in 1948

U.S. continues to have vital interests in this crucial area today:

Unrestricted access to Persian Gulf oil at reasonable prices

Regional security and political stability in Persian Gulf

Security for the state of Israel against hostile neighbors

Prevention of meddling by outside powers (Russia, France)

Key political events in region during past 40 years:

1967 Arab-Israeli War and Israel's occupation of Palestine

1973 October Israel-Egypt War, and Cairo's change of policy

Iran's 1979 revolution and the ouster of a pro-U.S. regime

Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the threat to Saudi Arabia

President Bush's reasons for using force against Saddam Hussein:

Iraq's threat to Saudi Arabia and other oil-rich Gulf states

Saddam's potential links to the Al Qaeda terrorist network

Iran's efforts to undermine U.S.-friendly Gulf states

Israel's refusal to withdraw troops until Iraqi threat removed

Likelihood that Saddam possessed WMD and would use them

What have we learned from the Iraq experience?

Invasion of another country is never quick, or low-cost

Key European allies will not join U.S. in Middle East wars

U.S. Army is not trained to fight prolonged urban insurgencies

Despite casualties and cost, US public is not against Iraq war

Comparing U.S. commitments to Iraq and Vietnam wars:

140,000 troops in Iraq in 2005; 530,000 in Vietnam in 1968

All volunteer force is in Iraq; draftees were sent to Vietnam

No major power helps Iraq; China and USSR both aided Vietnam

U.S. is unlikely to leave Iraq soon; U.S. was expelled from Vietnam

Is Iraq worth the cost that America is paying?

Probably yes, for important strategic reasons (cited above)

But troop levels and costs must come down soon, to keep public support

U.S. Army is under great strain, and the all-volunteer force is suffering

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