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prominent opinion makers, including Richard Perle, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser
To reinforce this point, the Prime Minister can use his forthcoming visit to announce that Israel is now mature enough to cut itself free immediately from at least U.S. economic aid and loan guarantees at least, which prevent economic reform. [Military aid is separated for the moment until adequate arrangements can be made to ensure that Israel will not
encounter supply problems in the means to defend itself].
Kenneth Katzman and James Nichol
Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division
Key allies of the United States withhold support for military action against Iraq, despite evidence that the Iraqis are clandestinely producing weapons of mass destruction. Similarly, U.S. allies have concluded potentially lucrative deals with Iran to exploit central Asian oil resources, despite Washington's opposition to them.
Regimes now in power in both countries have staked their legitimacies on ensuring their independence from great power influence, even though this goal has brought extraordinary costs to both.
The current U.S. policy of “dual containment” of both Iran and Iraq is temporarily useful, to the extent that it rejects the past policy of alternately promoting Iran or Iraq as U.S. surrogates in the Gulf. That strategy contributed to the Shah's unpopularity within Iran and ultimate downfall. Later, the policy may have emboldened Saddam Hussein to believe that seizing Kuwait would not incur significant U.S. opposition, or that he might even receive U.S. approval. These outcomes, and others like them, are an almost inevitable outgrowth of the inherently competitive system the United States has relied on in the Gulf.
The Shah of Iran seemed the perfect choice to play the role of U.S. surrogate in the Gulf. The United States had already preserved his regime in 1953 against a significant threat by nationalist elements led by then Prime Minister Mohammad Mosadeq.
Iran sees the Central Asian region as an arena for reducing its own isolation. Hoping to make itself an attractive economic and political partner to these states, Iran has been cautious in supporting radical Islamic opposition movements in the region. Several Central Asian states are proceeding with or contemplating energy projects that transit Iran. These projects present the Administration and Congress with the dilemma of how to keep Iran's financial resources constrained while at the same time fostering economic and political development in Central Asia.
The United States accepted a statement in the communique of the P-8 summit in Denver in June 1997 praising Iran's mediation role in Tajikistan. Iran also has tried to mediate in the dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory. Over the last few years, Iran has worked to improve often contentious relations with Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliyev, and has offered only minor support to a pro-Iranian Islamic Party in Azerbaijan.
The landlocked Central Asian states were anxious to develop alternatives to Russia as a transit route for exporting their energy resources...
Despite widespread concerns about Iranian foreign policy, Iran's political stability gives Iran an advantage in competing for projects over some regional countries, such as Afghanistan. Two energy teams3 are vying for the right to build a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan, through Afghanistan. Although the Clinton Administration endorses such efforts, it admits that a trans-Afghan pipeline is unlikely as long as interfactional strife continues in that country.
The financial attractiveness of energy export routes through Iran has run up against the commitment of the Administration and Congress to constrain Iran's financial and military capabilities. An April 1997 State Department report on Caspian energy development4 stated that "the United States strongly opposes activities which significantly contribute to Iran's revenues and petroleum sector, increasing the funds available to support international terrorism and development of weapons of mass destruction." A chief congressional backer of this position has been Senator Sam Brownback, who said in a November 5, 1997, speech on Central Asia that "If the floodgates open through Iran, the eastern Caspian will certainly fall into the Iranian sphere of dominance and the South Caucasus will lose out on its opportunity to prosper." In October 1997, Sen. Brownback introduced a bill, the Silk Road Strategy Act of 1997 (S. 1344) that provides incentives for the Central Asian states to cooperate with each other and with the United States, rather than with Iran. The bill was reported to the full Senate on June 23, 1998.