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Following the war in Iraq, the United States, along with its allies and friends, faces the need to define a new, long-term strategy for the Persian Gulf region. The United States' continued, indeed permanent, engagement in the region has already been determined by its interests, but many elements must be considered and questions answered, including the following:

  • What are the best strategy and approach to promoting long-term security and stability in the region in a manner consonant with the basic interests of the United States, its allies and partners, and participating regional countries?
  • What means can be found to reduce the long-term burdens imposed on the United States by its involvement in the region in terms of military engagement, risks and expenses, and opportunity costs?
  • Can Iran be drawn productively into security arrangements for the Persian Gulf, or will it decide instead to challenge security in the region?
  • What regional security structure can be developed with the potential to include all regional countries and provide lasting value?

To answer these questions, the author analyzes the future of Iraq, the role of Iran, asymmetric threats (including terrorism), regional reassurance, the Arab-Israeli conflict, regional tensions, and the roles of other external actors. The work recommends criteria, parameters, potential models and partners, arms-control and confidence-building measures, and specific steps in diplomacy and military commitments for a new security structure for the Persian Gulf region that can meet U.S. interests at a reduced cost and gain the support of the American people.

This report results from the RAND Corporation's continuing program of self-initiated research. Support for such research is provided, in part, by the generosity of RAND's donors and by the fees earned on client-funded research.

This report is part of the RAND monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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