A regional power: United States' policy in the Indian Ocean and the definition of national security 1970-1980.
DProf thesis, Middlesex University.
This study explores the content, context and contradictions in the making of United States' policy for the Indian Ocean region during the decade of the 1970's. In approaching this undertaking, the study will focus on the strategic dimension to policy from both an historical and an analytic perspective. The work explores three major themes: first, that the need to reverse a perceived decline in U. S. power constituted a common ground for U. S. administrations' during the 1970's; secondly, that the approach to this objective found a critical geopolitical focus in the Middle East and Northern Indian Ocean region; and thirdly, that the modalities of
regional engagement redefined, in turn, the nature of regional multipolarity . The principal dilemma to be explored for U. S. policy concems the reconciliation of the rising importance of the region to the United States with diminishing U. S. leverage, in an era of diffusion of power and emergent strategic bipolarity.
In methodological terms, the research design adapts the controlled comparison case study model developed by Alexander George amongst others. In this context, the class of events under scrutiny is policy - broadly defined - for the Indian Ocean region under differing strategic concepts, with a focus on bureaucratic interaction, organizational process, and military posture. The parallel analysis of macroscopic processes in world economics, inter-state relations and the central balance provides a conjunctural setting for a structured, focused, comparison of source material drawn from Congressional Hearings, policy documentation, reports, interviews and internal departmental and intelligence memoranda. For the source material itself, the research programme has accessed much material recently declassified under FOI legislation and on record in the
National Archives, the National Security Archives and the Nixon Presidential library.
The ordering of the work is as follows: for the six major chapters, chapter one locates the origins of United States' strategic interest in the Indian Ocean within a critical account of U. S. relations with the existing British power. Chapter's two and three commence the main historical part of the work in considering the Indian Ocean policy of the Nixon administration, in terms of the local application of the 'Nixon Doctrine'. Here, the objectives and restraints for U. S. policy are assessed with reference to two major themes of this study, great power strategic parity and regional multipolarity. These themes are referenced to signal historical developments in the region - the withdrawal of British forces, the changes in the world oil market and the 1971
India-Pakistan and 1973 Middle East wars. The emerging strategic focus on the Indian Ocean for the Ford administration is taken up in chapter four within the parallel perspectives of U. S. military posture and the evolving distribution of power in the region itself. This context leads into the Indian Ocean policies of the Carter administration. Chapter five provides an overview of the U. S. -Soviet naval arms limitation talks (NALT) of 1977-8, while chapter six undertakes a three part exposition of the 'Carter Doctrine'. In this, the emergence of the South West Asia/Indian Ocean region as the focus of great power competition is located within analysis of the Iranian revolution, the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan and the outbreak of the Iran-Iraq war.
Although aspects of U. S. regional policy have been subject to a substantial literature, the stance taken here combines an historical analysis with a parallel essay at synthesis -a perspective that locates the region within the overall cast of U. S. national security policy. The study posits a strategic determination for the Indian Ocean policy framework, one whose unifying process accentuated - pari passu - the differentiation of means -
In these terms, it concludes that a differentiation of ends, and notably, those involving effective disengagement from the Indian Ocean, was displaced as a possible option.
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