Narrowing The Gulf

By John Liang / June 2, 2010 at 5:00 AM

The RAND Corp. has come out with a new study on ways to build security in the Persian Gulf.

"Since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the United States has found itself deeply – perhaps permanently – engaged in providing security throughout the region of the Persian Gulf and beyond," a RAND statement released today reads. "But how can the United States help create conditions that will foster greater security and stability in the region? Can it do so at potentially reduced cost to itself in blood, treasure and opportunities foregone elsewhere? And how can it enlist others in the effort?"

To that end, a new study by the organization "lays out the criteria and parameters for a new security structure for the Persian Gulf region that seeks to answer these questions."

The study, titled "Building Security In The Persian Gulf," is written by Robert Hunter, a RAND senior adviser and former U.S. ambassador to NATO under President Clinton. Hunter also served as a senior National Security Council official for the Middle East under President Carter. It "covers seven region-specific parameters that need to be considered in developing a new security structure," according to the statement. They are:

* The future of Iraq;
* Iran and its roles;
* Asymmetrical threats;
* Regional reassurance;
* The Arab-Israeli conflict; regional tensions,
* Crises and conflicts; and
* The roles of other external actors.

Hunter's study also "canvasses potential roles and/or models that include NATO, the European Union, an Organization for Security and Cooperation in the Persian Gulf, an Association of Persian Gulf Nations, and several arms control and confidence-building measures, such as political and military commissions, formal U.S. security commitments, an incidents at sea agreement, a counter-piracy convention and cooperation against terrorism." Additionally:

Within the context of fully securing U.S. interests and those of its friends and allies, the study also examines ways to reduce the long-term burdens placed on the United States in terms of military engagement, the financial cost of providing security risks, including to U.S. forces, and opportunity costs, especially in relation to East and South Asia, the Russian Federation and management of the global economy.