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idea was condemned by the Soviet Union and some nations in the Arab world because they saw this idea as colonial occupancy by the U.S.
3.7 The policy of Twin pillar by Nixon administration
Full awareness of the “Twin Pillar policy” or “Nixon Doctrine” or also “Nixon-Kissinger Doctrine” was formulated by the Nixon administration before the Islamic Revolution in Iran. The British announcement of withdrawing from the Persian Gulf by 1971 gave a shock to the U.S., because the communist penetration in the region was the main concern of the United States and it was important to fill that security gap for the security of the Persian Gulf region. Due to its engagement in the Vietnam War and also the belief that “a colonial presence in the region would encourage anti-western sentiments and contribute to the overthrow of the conservative pro-western regimes” (Mojtahed-Zadeh, 1990, p. 5), pushed the U.S. to prefer an indirect strategy for security of the Persian Gulf area. So, the U.S. preferred that the pro-western regional countries of the Persian Gulf should take the security responsibility for the region. The Nixon Doctrine on 18 February 1970 clearly stated:
The United States will participate in the defense and development of allies and friends, but America- cannot and will not-conceive all the plans, design all the programs, execute all the decisions and undertake all the defense of the free nations of the world. We will help where it makes a real difference and is considered in our interest (Ferrell, 1975, pp. 812-813).
According to the Nixon Doctrine, monarchies of Iran and Saudi Arabia were expected to act as U.S. alliances in the Persian Gulf region. Pahlavi’s regime in Iran and the Al-e-Saud regime in Saudi Arabia both were empowered to guarantee regional stability in the Persian Gulf for the free flow of oil to the United States and its western allies in western Europe (Potter & Sick, 2002, p. 23). Iran was regarded as being militarily more capable of securing Western interests and politically more stable than Saudi Arabia.
At the beginning, the Shah announced his willingness to work with Saudi Arabia for the security of the Persian Gulf states, but Saudi Arabia refused to support Iran’s proposal mainly for reasons of the following parameters: 1) Iran’s claim on Bahrain and three other small islands – Abu Mousa, leaser and great Tunbs – in the Persian Gulf; 2) Iran’s pro- western and pro-Israeli policies and its membership in the CENTO (Central Treaty Organization); 3) conflict between Iran and Iraq and exclusionof Iraq from the pact (Ghassemi, p. 185). So during the Shah’s official visit to Washington, on October 21, 1969, President Nixon told him that the United States hoped Iran would become the dominant power in the Persian Gulf. The formal US-Iranian cooperation in the Persian Gulf was established in May, 1972 when President Nixon and his national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, visited the Shah in Iran and agreed on a security arrangement with Iran playing the main role in protecting western interests in the Persian Gulf.
Some reasons for the priority of Iran as the regional gendarme of western powers were: 1) Iran had a key role in the cold war alliances to contain Soviet influence; 2) Iran had a strategic location; 3) Iran had the largest population in the Persian Gulf; 3) from a military point of view Iran was the most powerful state in the Persian Gulf; 4) Shah Pahlavi’s regime had the readiness potential to assume such a role in the region; 5) Iran had friendly relations with the Israeli regime in the Middle East region, which was the alliance of U.S. and European countries and was also the red line of western policies in the region, provided that the Arab-Israeli relations in that period of time were at their worst and the Arab oil embargoes in 1973 were aimed at the western economy.
Regarding the above mentioned reasons for choosing Iran as a regional gendarme, Joseph Sisco, Assistant secretary of State, in a statement before the House Subcommittee on the Near East said:
Iran by virtue of its population, its economic and military strength and its geographic position along the northern shore of the Persian Gulf, is destined to play a major role in providing for stability in the [Persian] Gulf and the continued flow of oil to consumer countries. Fortunately, Iran has both the will and the capability to do so. (US-House, 1972, p. 84)
Also, Henry Kissinger in this case believed that there was no justification for America to send its military forces to the Persian Gulf in the midst of the Vietnam War. Then he mentioned that:
the vacuum left by British withdrawal, now menaced by Soviet intrusion and radical momentum, would be filled by a local power friendly to us… and all of this was achievable without any American resources, since the shah was willing to pay for the equipment out of his oil revenues (Kissinger, 1979, p. 1264).
The shah was thus given almost unlimited access to the most sophisticated U.S. weaponry and gradually came to be regarded as the “policeman of the Persian Gulf” (Bahgat, p. 5). To attain this goal, Iran’s military might was reinforced by building a number of military bases in the region and outside the Persian Gulf region in the Indian Ocean. The United States, according to its aims, especially responded to the requests of the Pahlavi monarchy regime in Iran for sophisticated military hardware and training assistance and provided Iran with several kinds of advanced weapons.
Henry Kissinger (1979) described the special relation between Iran and US as the parallel policies of these two countries:
on all major international issues, the policies of the United states and the policies of Iran have been parallel and therefore mutually reinforcing … Iran has never gone to war or threatened to go to war for any purpose which would not have been parallel to our own … Not out of sentimentality … but out of a calculation of our own national and global interests, just as Iranian policy is based on its calculation of its national interests, there has developed a parallelism of views on many key problems that has made our cooperation a matter that is in the profound national interests of both countries.
The Nixon- Kissinger Doctrine appeared to be developing a regional security policy aimed at excluding Iraq, because after the 1968 Coup against the monarchy regime, the new pan-Arab regime in Baghdad that advocated Arab nationalist goals had socialistic tendencies toward the Soviet Union. To this end, the Nixon Doctrine advocated reliance on Iran and, to a much lesser extent, on Saudi Arabia to maintain security in the Persian Gulf. These developments were viewed with much suspicion by Iraq, which envisaged them as serious challenges to its own interests and ambitions in the Persian Gulf and this was one of the main reasons for Saddam Hussein’s invasion in 1980 of Iran after the Islamic Revolution (Ghareeb, 1990, p. 27).
There are two main reasons for indirect interference of the U.S. in the Persian Gulf after the withdrawal of the U.K. from East of Suez and the Persian Gulf region. Firstly, because of defeat in the Vietnam war and pressure of American public opinion on the Nixon administration. Secondly, because of the condition of bipolarity after World War II, the Twin-Pillar policy as part of U.S. strategy was largely in line with the self-perception of Iran and to a lesser extent, Saudi Arabia, legitimizing and reinforcing their roles as status quo powers in the region.
The lynchpin of the Twin-Pillar doctrine was the Pahlavi regime in Iran and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was considered as financial supporter of the Nixon Doctrine. In this regard, the consecutive US administrations agreed that ‘geo-politics’ and ‘Cold War bipolarity’ required a militarily strong, anti-Communist and pro-Western Iran. The Pahlavi regime in Iran also agreed to be the gendarme of western interests in the region. It is necessary to remember that Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi’s regime was indebted to the U.S. and U.K., because the Shah Pahlavi was brought back to power by a MI6/CIA-sponsored military coup in 1953, which ousted the democratically-elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh.
The central concentration of US and western countries after World War II was Iran because Iran was the border line between the communist world under the leadership of the Soviet Union and the West under the leadership of the United States. At the end of World War II, the presence of the communist party of Tudeh and precedents of Soviet intrusion to Iranian sovereignty, most clearly exemplified in the refusal to withdraw Soviet military forces from the Northern Iranian region of Gilan after the Second World War (1946), was the alarm for the West to help secure Iran from both external aggression and internal subversion. The role of Iran as a bulwark against communism and as the fundamental Western ally in the Persian Gulf region was institutionalized by the formal treaty of Central Treaty Organization (also referred to as CENTO, original known as Middle East Treaty Organization or METO, also known as the Baghdad Pact) that was established in 1955 by Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, and the United Kingdom and it was dissolved in 1979 after the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Although the United States itself at first could not participate in the CENTCOM, but in 1958, the United States joined the military committee of the alliance. CENTO is generally viewed as one of the least successful of the Cold War alliances (Amirsadeghi, 1981, pp. 160-161).
From 1971, Iran was systemically legitimized as the regional pillar of Western strategy and had the role of policing regional stability, if necessary by force. For example, in 1973 Iranian troops at the invitation of Sultan Qabus, defused the Dhoffar separatist uprising, a Marxist separatist military group in the Dhoffar province of the Omani country.

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