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The Middle East: Long-Term Threats, Short-Term Solution, Research Paper Example

Pages: 2

Words: 627

Research Paper

“Elevated terror threat,”“troop surge,”“shock and awe”…these are by now commonly understood terms among most Americans.  They are bywords for the United States’ seemingly ubiquitous military presence in the Middle East and Afghanistan.  Many of the circumstances that brought the U.S. military to the region in such force are still at issue or have evolved into new concerns.  In any event, the global political climate dictates that America’s armed forces must maintain a dominant presence in the region for the foreseeable future.

Iran

The Iranian Revolution, with its hard-line political doctrine and the country’s commitment to upgrading its military strength, represents the most potent overall political threat to the region’s security.  Studied assessments of the country’s current and potential military capacity lead to the conclusion that here lies a persistent and dedicated threat to American interests.  The looming specter of Iran’s “nuclear bomb or nuclear energy” capacity amounts to,at the least, a dangerous wild card.

In his 2010 study, Geoffrey Kemp posed a scenario in which Iran might deploy enough sea-born military assets, from diesel-powered submarines to land mines, that the U.S. Navy would be required to play a crucial role in safeguarding shipping lanes in the Gulf of Hormuz.  While Iran does not pose a viable large-scale military threat to the U.S., recent history has proven that rogue nations have many options other than direct military confrontation.

“Some people have postulated that Iranian submarines could lay mines in shipping lanes or that Iranian shore-based missiles could attack tankers to try to block the Strait of Hormuz. The purpose of these actions would not be to achieve any maritime victory over the U.S. but to sowpanic through the oil markets and put the Arab Gulf on notice that Iran will not sit back and allow its revolution to be squashed” (Kemp, )

Oil crisis

Another potentially destabilizing development in the Middle East is the looming oil shortage, the impact of which could be felt as early as 2012, some have predicted. Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest producer, hasn’t recorded an increase in production in three years. The effect of the resulting energy crisis would slow economic development worldwide and make bad conditions worse in under-developed countries in the Middle East.

“Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions, push fragile and failing states further down the path toward collapse,” according to oil energy expert Charles Weeden.  Weeden further states that the energy crisis and consequent economic downturn, which would likely lead to another recession, and place the U.S. military in a “precarious situation.”

Short-term projections are worrisome enough, but the potential consequences in the coming years are truly alarming.  “In 2010, the shortfall will become greater than can be made up by what’s still in inventory, thus beginning a period of global oil scarcity that will lead to a ‘peak’ in conventional oil production in 2012 or 2013” (Energytechstocks.com).  By 2015, the situation could reach a true crisis point.

With alternate energy sources not sufficiently developed and the hovering threat from Iran, the U.S. will need to elevate its military presence in the Middle East for the foreseeable future.  This is fraught with problems, amounting as it does to a near-colonization scenario for some parts of the region (recent British history provides some unnerving parallels).Untilnuclear, electrical, wind, solar and other energy sources are able to make up for projected drops in the availability of Middle Eastern oil, there seems to be no other practicable option in sight.

References

“Iran’s Nuclear Program.”  The New York Times.Nov. 14, 2010. http://www.nytimes.com/info/iran-nuclear-program/

“The Next Crisis: Prepare for Peak Oil.”  The Wall Street Journal.  Feb. 11, 2010. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704140104575057260398292350.html

Interview Charles T. Weeden, “Oil Shortages Start in 2010; Peak Oil Hits 2012-2015.”  2008 http://energytechstocks.com/wp/?p=819

Kemp, Geoffrey.  “Assessing the Iranian Threat.” Fighting Proliferation: New Concerns for the Nineties. Edited by Henry Sokolski.  Maxwell AFB: Air University Press (1996).

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