Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Joseph S.
Nye, Jr., announced today the publication of "United States Security Strategy
for the Middle East." The report is the second in a series of regional security
strategies commissioned by Secretary of Defense William J. Perry to supplement
President Clinton's "Strategy of Engagement and Enlargement." Relating the
report to recent developments, Nye noted that it "highlights the need to
prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in this volatile
region, as well as the importance of the commitment the President obtained from
Russia not to sell a gas centrifuge that could help Iran develop a nuclear
weapon. We need to keep up the pressure on this issue, not just on Russia but
also on China."
The DoD report outlines a regional strategy based on engagement with key Middle
Eastern states, a robust forward presence, and continued enhancement of U.S.
capabilities to project military power into the region. Nye emphasized the
remarkable advances DoD has made in this regard. "In 1980, it would have taken
three months to get a credible ground force in place in the Gulf. Ten years
later, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, it took three weeks. In 1994, when Iraq again
threatened the border and President Clinton responded with the deployment of
U.S. troops, it took three days," concluded Nye.
Among the report's other highlights:
. Because of enduring U.S. interests--such as maintaining international access
to two-thirds of the world's known oil--U.S. troops have seen combat more often
in the Middle East than anywhere else in the past 20 years: over Libya, in
Lebanon, in the Gulf during the Iran-Iraq tanker war, and in Desert Storm.
. U.S. security assistance and participation in peacekeeping have been crucial
in promoting the atmosphere of confidence and security necessary for the
success of the Peace Process thus far.
. Despite losing much of its conventional capability in the Gulf War, Iraq
still possesses the largest military force in the Gulf and poses a significant
threat to the moderate Gulf states.
. There is a need for more equitable burden sharing. More than thirty
countries took part in Desert Shield/Desert Storm. These countries and others
made financial contributions to Gulf defense totaling $70 billion. The U.S.,
Britain, and France are now the only outside countries with forces in the Gulf,
and financial contributions by other recipients of Gulf oil exports have dried