The United States became a superpower in post World War II following its intervention in the war and later leadership of the military efforts that liberated countries occupied by Germany which eventually led to the defeat of the Third Reich.
While allied countries such as Canada and Australia had joined Britain and France in the war against Hitler following his invasion of Europe, the US remained on the sidelines until Japan attacked Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941, two years after the start of the war.
The rest is, of course, history; the war ended in September 1945 with the defeat and surrender of Germany and its ally Japan. The US military might and its leadership of the war efforts clinched the war for the allies.
Even prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was supporting Britain and its allies with arms and critical aid. In his January 1941 State of the Union Address, almost a year before the harbour attack, Roosevelt described the war as a fight for universal freedoms against the Nazi threat.
Alliances in Europe, Asia and Middle East
He quoted the founding principles of his country as the main reason for supporting the allies and also later for playing a leading role against the Communist Block during the Cold War.
There was nothing personal in his war decision or in the decisions of his successors to forge alliances in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The alliances have been based on the strategic importance of those areas to world peace. The US would work closely with those allies to ensure stability in those regions — a decision based on not only American interests but also the interests of its allies and friends.
On February 14, 1945, Roosevelt met with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdul Aziz Al Saud, the founder of the kingdom, on a US Navy destroyer in the Suez Canal. The historic meeting was the first time a US president had ever met with a Saudi king, and laid the foundation for American-Saudi relations, and relations with the Arab Gulf region, that would continue for decades. The relationship has been one of the most enduring and rewarding alliances between the US and a specific region since the end of World War II.
Global role of Gulf countries
The alliance was tested several times over the past several decades and managed to overcome those challenges due to its core principle — the strategic interest of both parties and the impact on world security, as the Gulf is critically essential to the energy supply routes and its countries’ role vital in all policies and decisions affecting the entire Middle East.
Some of those challenges include Iran’s fundamentalist revolution in 1979 which transformed the country into an authoritarian theological regime, the Iraq-Iran war (1980-1988), the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the US.
However, lately it seems there has been some sort of a dangerous mist clouding the US view of its strategic ties with the Gulf. Unlike other administrations, which moved according to the big picture, the strategic goals, the Biden administration looks consumed by personal biases and hasty decisions that if not studied thoroughly may alter, and ultimately damage, the US-Gulf alliance that withstood the test of time for 75 years.
Iran deal and cautionary signals
One example of the rush to judgement in the alleys of the current administration is its unhinged pursuit of a deal with Iran, ignoring in the process the cautionary signals: A rushed deal with Iran, without addressing the fundamental security and political issues of this region vis-a-vis the danger Iran spells for our region.
Tehran is engaged in a not-so-secret programme that all agree represents a clear and present danger to the security and balance of power in this sensitive region.
Moreover, Iran’s foreign policy in the region for the past four decades is based on antagonising its neighbours, interfering in their internal affairs, creating, funding and arming proxy militias in a number of Arab countries for political gains and expansion of influence.
Without seriously tackling those issues, any deal with Iran will only inflame a region which is already on fire — with the ongoing conflicts in Yemen and Syria and the deteriorating conditions in Iraq and Lebanon, both Iran-dominated countries.
A hasty deal with Iran means cash and arms it will happily use to intensify its military interference in those Arab countries. We have seen that following the failed deal former President Barack Obama signed with Iran in 2015 and was rightly exited by former President Donald Trump.
Trump, with all his political shortcomings, major shortcoming, understood the importance of the alliance with the Gulf, in line with the prevailing principles of US foreign policy adhered to by previous administrations. He nurtured the relationship — his first trip abroad as president was to Saudi Arabia in early 2017 when he met other Arab and Muslim leaders.
In the current administration, it is obvious there is a hegemony of left-leaning liberals who happen to be in charge of foreign policies. Their detest of traditional politics seeps from their statements concerning the region. One example is President Biden’s special envoy for Iran, Robert Malley.
He was a key member of President Obama’s team that negotiated the 2015 deal with Iran. His appointment was criticised by Congress as he is widely seen as unusually soft on Iran.
Other players in the administration don’t fare any better. They seem to implement a personal agenda, viewed warily by Arab allies who may have to turn to more credible and dependable friends such as Russia and China, in their pursuit to ensure stability and equilibrium in the region.
Is President Biden ready to risk a 75-year-old alliance in favour of a deal with Iran that would only bring about more chaos to the Middle East? That is the key question Washington needs to carefully mull as the success of any US Middle East policy requires the cooperation of its Gulf allies.
The administration needs to revisit those universal principles that led Roosevelt to lead the war on Nazi Germany and made America the global superpower it is today i.e. the big picture.