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argue that dual containment was “nothing more than a lack of policy. If the United States truly wants to influence these regimes (Iran and Iraq) the approach should be changed to open dialogue and constructive.”(J. Mraz & McCallen, 1996). They believed that the only effect of the dual containment policy on Iran has been economic, and sanctions caused opening new and larger markets with Europe, Japan and Russia for Iran and US containment shifted the blame from the Iranian government’s failing economic policies onto the United States. It seems during presidency of Mohammad Khatami it was a good opportunity for U.S. to make a good relationship with Iranian government for the first time after the Islamic revolution in 1979, but the policy of containing and isolating Iran during the period of dual containment policy was as a barrier against any direct dialogue between Iran and U.S.
Another point of view believes that the “end of the Cold War has reduced the strategic significance of the Persian Gulf region” and after the Cold War “there is considerable disagreement about the nature and importance of the remaining American interests there” (Conry, 1994, p. 1). Conry believes goals such as 1) maintaining access to the Persian Gulf fossil reserves at a reasonable price, 2) preventing nuclear proliferation in the region, and 3) maintenance or creating regional stability that some of proponents of an activist US role in the Persian Gulf such as Edward B. Atkeson, Anthony Lake and James A. Phillips argue, none of them is vital to American national security (Conry, p. 1).
Firstly, according to Anthony Lake, oil was as one of America’s vital interests in the region: “Despite the end of the superpower rivalry, the Middle East remains of vital interest to the United States,” (Lake, 1994b), but Conry argues that access to the Persian gulf petroleum is not so fundamental to the American economy that it rises to the level of a vital interest because during the Cold War, control of Persian Gulf’s fossil reserves by the Soviet Union would have enabled Moscow to threaten Washington’s European allies, which get most of their oil from the Middle East. But as political scientist, Richard K. Hermann has pointed out, after the collapse of the Soviet Union; the same danger could not arise from any potential hegemony. On other hand, the regional countries of the Persian Gulf are deeply dependent on oil for developing their projects and funding their military purchases, so the regional member states can only threaten to increase the price of oil. However, the options for petroleum alternatives and other energies and the dependence of most regional economies on the advanced industrial economies limit the range of changes. On the other hand, even if a regional member state were going to increase the crude oil prices, that would have a relatively minor impact on the American economy, because in a worst-case scenario the ultimate cost to the American economy would have been a loss of 1 percent of real gross domestic product (Henderson, 1991, pp. 41-45), while the yearly U.S. military spending in the defense of the Persian Gulf region, in peacetime, was around USD50 billion. (Ravenal, 1991).
Secondly, there is the vital US interest in the Middle East – the prevention of proliferation of nuclear weapons. Barbara Conry believes (Conry, p. 2):
Experience has demonstrated that there is relatively little the international community can do to deter regimes that are intent on becoming nuclear powers. Israel, India, and Pakistan all acquired nuclear capabilities during the Cold War, against the will of the international community.
So she concluded that Washington should adjust to that new reality that even if Iran and Iraq were to develop nuclear arsenals, they would not necessarily represent a threat to the security of the United States and possession of nuclear weapons does not in itself award a vital military or diplomatic advantage. For example, Israel’s status as the sole nuclear power in the Middle East region, has never afforded it a measurable advantage in dealing with its non-nuclear Arab enemies (Fein, July 13, 1994). So failure to prevent nuclear proliferation in the region, does not necessarily pose a mortal threat to U.S. security because a nuclear-free Persian Gulf is a peripheral, rather than a vital, American interest.
Thirdly, a third vital U.S. interest in the Persian Gulf is regional stability and Barbara Conry maintains that:
The Middle East has never been a stable region, and there is scant reason to believe that the prospects for stability there have improved”. Then she concludes that: “there is no reason to think that instability in the post-Cold War era somehow suddenly represents a threat to American security…As long as Middle Eastern players do not seek regional stability, there is little the United States can do to advance it. Indeed, stability in the Persian Gulf region is so chimerical an objective that it could not even be called a legitimate peripheral interest, much less a vital U.S. interest (Conry, p. 2).
Finally Conry concludes that when there is any vital national security interest in the Persian Gulf region, also there is no justification for undertaking the policy of dual containment by the President Clinton administration, and legitimate peripheral interests of the United States do not merit allowing it to be drawn into regional turmoil or another Persian Gulf War.
According to the claim by US policy makers, one of the most important aspects of the dual containment policy was deterring the Islamic Republic of Iran from supporting terrorism and terrorist groups such as the Hizbollah and Al-Qaedah, but according to the US annual state department report, the dual containment policy had seen little success in deterring Iraq or Iran’s support for international terrorism (“Country Reports on Terrorism: 2005,” released April 2006). These reports indicate that Iran, to oppose the Arab-Israeli Peace Process in the Middle East provides material support to the terrorist groups such as Hizbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, etc. Although recently in 2004 the new Iraqi government was removed from the terrorism list, Iran still is in the American black list of those supporting terrorism.
Some American scholars confirm Kennan’s remarks about the former Soviet Union:
America’s contest with the Soviet Union, it was inappropriate for the United States to seek the Soviets’ total defeat… so Moscow had space and thus it made sense to concentrate on Russia’s periphery. Those areas which were vital to U.S. interest—those, and only those, should be defended (Pelletiere, 1999, p. 17).
The U.S. should adopt a similar strategy with regard to the northern Persian Gulf region states of Iran and Iraq because the U.S. does not need the oil of both Iran and Iraq when it has access to the oil fields of the southern Arab states of the Persian Gulf.
From another perspective, also some Persian Gulf coastal states did not believe that the dual containment policy was effective on Iran. For example, Omani’s King Sultan Qaboos’ reaction to the US policy of dual containment was that “Iran is the largest country in the [Persian] Gulf with 65 million people. You cannot isolate it” (Miller, 1997, p. 14).
Stability and security of the Persian Gulf region always has been the fundamental objective of American foreign policy. As the former Secretary of State “William Perry” stated, “Nowhere in the world does the United States more clearly have vital interests at stake than in the Persian Gulf” (Perry, 1995, p. 8). In this regard, the Clinton administration adopted the Dual Containment Policy with different objectives for Iraq and Iran. At the first step, the common idea about Iraq and Iran was that: “The regimes of both countries are viewed as dangerous because their policies are hostile to American interests” (Indyk, 1993, p. 2). At the second step there was a different policy regarding Iran and Iraq: The Clinton administration’s Dual Containment Policy objectives regarding Iran were: 1) to persuade Tehran to change its outlaw behavior by isolation it; 2) to halt efforts of Tehran’s pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and its nuclear ambitions; 3) to prevent Iran’s links with terrorism; 4) to end Iran’s violent opposition to the Arab- Israeli Peace Process; 5) to curb Tehran’s threats against neighboring states; 6) to constrain Iran to comply with human rights (Wright & Broder, August 11, 1993). In January 1989, President Bush (elder) had referred to Iran in his initial address saying: “[…] good will begets good will. Good faith can be a spiral that endlessly moves on […]” (Gary Sick, p. 66). However, after the Bush administration there was no talk of good will by the Clinton administration and instead U.S. officials developed a special vocabulary in which Iran was characteristically recognized as a “rogue”, “terrorist”, “outlaw” or “back slash state”.
After the end of the Clinton presidency when we analyze the achievement of the above objectives of dual containment regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran, it emerges that the policy of dual containment was not able to achieve any of its claimed goals regarding Iran. According to Martin Indyk, the main sole thinker of dual containment policy: “If we fail in our efforts to modify Iranian behavior, five years from now Iran will be much more capable of posing a real threat to Israel, the Arab world, and Western interests in the Middle East” (Indyk, p. 3). There must be a threat to the Arab coastal states and their western allies, but we see that the Iranian government’s relation with the free world even while Mahmud Ahmadinejad, as a hard-liner president, was selected as Iran’s president, there was no serious conflict with Iran’s neighbors and the western countries. From another point of view, there exist the above-claimed objectives of dual containment regarding Iran even

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