"Defense Planning Guidance for 1994-99", written by Paul Wolfowitz,
- "Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union,"
This remains the principal aim of US strategy today, but it has now been joined by another key objective:
- to ensure that the United States - and no one else - controls the energy supplies of the Persian Gulf and adjacent areas of Asia
This classic geopolitical contest began early 2001, White House
- unilaterally repudiating the US-Russian Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and
- announcing new high-tech arms sales to Taiwan,
May 4 (2006), when Vice President Dick Cheney went to Lithuania,
- He accused Kremlin officials of "unfairly and improperly" restricting the rights of Russian citizens and of
- using the country's abundant oil and gas supplies as "tools of intimidation [and] blackmail" against its neighbors. He also
- condemned Moscow for attempting to "monopolize the transportation" of oil and gas supplies in Eurasia - a direct challenge to US interests in the Caspian region.
The next day, Cheney flew to Kazakhstan,
- urged that country's leaders to ship their plentiful oil through a US-sponsored pipeline to Turkey and the Mediterranean rather than through Russian-controlled pipelines to Europe.
June 3, 2006, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld weighed in on China,
- Beijing's "lack of transparency" with respect to its military spending "understandably causes concerns for some of its neighbors".
- publicly announced plans for increased US spending on sophisticated weapons systems such as the F-22A fighter and Virginia-class nuclear attack submarines that could only be useful in a big-power war for which there were just two realistic adversaries - Russia and China.
China ... aggressive energy policies - ...
- its increasing attempts to nail down oil and gas supplies for its burgeoning, energy-poor economy. ...
- China's use of arms transfers and other military aid as inducements to such countries as Iran and Sudan to gain access to energy reserves ...
- acquiring warships "that could serve as the basis for a force capable of power projection" into the oil-producing regions of the planet.
Iran occupies a pivotal position on the tripolar chessboard.
- abuts both the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea, positioning Tehran to play a significant role in the two areas of greatest energy concern to the United States, Russia and China.
- abuts the strategic Strait of Hormuz - the narrow waterway from the Gulf to the Indian Ocean through which about one-quarter of the world's oil moves every day.
- could be used as the most obvious transit route for the delivery of oil and natural gas from the Caspian countries to global markets, especially in Europe and Japan.
- possesses the world's second-largest reserves of petroleum - an estimated 132 billion barrels (11.1% of the world's known reservoirs); and also the second-largest reserves of natural gas - 971 trillion cubic feet (27.5 trillion cubic meters, or 15.3% of known reservoirs).
For China's energy plans, Iran's "pariah" status has certainly been a boon.
- US firms are barred from investing and European companies face US economic penalties if they do
- China signs deal US$50 billion in 2004 to develop the massive Yadavaran gas field and to
- buy 10 million tons of Iranian liquefied natural gas annually for 25 years.
Russia, has an abiding interest in not seeing
- energy-rich Iran fall under the sway of the US and,
- as a major supplier of nuclear equipment and technology, also has a special interest in lending a profitable hand to Iran's energy establishment.
- The Russians are completing the construction of a civilian nuclear reactor at Bushehr in southwestern Iran, a $1 billion project, and are
- eager to sell more reactors and other nuclear-energy systems to the Iranians
- the replacement of the clerical government in Tehran with a US-friendly regime would represent a colossal, threefold accomplishment:
- it would eliminate a major threat to America's continued dominance of the Persian Gulf,
- open up the world's No 2 oil-and-gas supplier to US energy firms, and
- greatly diminish Chinese and Russian influence in the greater Gulf region.
Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the
- US position in both the Persian Gulf region and Central Asia has noticeably deteriorated.
- greatest weakness remains the schism in US-European relations created by the unilateral US invasion itself
- Europeans have largely refrained from helping out either in the counter-insurgency effort in Iraq or in
- funding the reconstruction of the country.
This has imposed a ghastly and mounting cost on the United States.
the Russians and Chinese have begun to create something of a counter-bloc to the United States in Central Asia, using the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a vehicle.
- went so far as to invite Iran to join as an observer - to the obvious displeasure of Washington.
At the same time, the United States has sought to line up its own allies -
- including South Asian wildcard India - for a possible military confrontation with Iran.
- The German press has also reported that former CIA director Peter Goss visited Turkey late last year (2005) to request that country's assistance in conducting air strikes against Iran.