By W. Taylor Fain (auth.)
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Extra info for American Ascendance and British Retreat in the Persian Gulf Region
S. Navy, American contingency plans for the defense of the Middle East in the late 1940s did not place a particularly high priority on safeguarding the oil “TOLL-GATES OF EMPIRE” 29 fields of the Persian Gulf. The Middle East was, indeed, a strategically vital region of the world in the eyes of American military planners, but its value consisted of more than just its considerable petroleum reserves. In late 1945 the JCS began planning for the possibility of war with the Soviet Union, and the following spring produced a series of studies, codenamed Pincher, that explored various issues relating to the defense of specific geographic areas.
Officials feared that Mussadiq’s appropriation of AIOC would set a dangerous precedent in the region. S. officials worked throughout the Iran crisis––first, to prevent the British from driving Mussadiq into the arms of the Tudeh, Iran’s Communist party; second, to prevent a situation that would lead the Soviet Union to intervene militarily in Iran on Mussadiq’s behalf; and third, to keep Iranian oil accessible to the West. In order to do this, they counseled the British government to negotiate with the nationalist Mussadiq government and to compromise with it where necessary.
S. Army and the Army Air Forces were engaged in designing a joint war plan that relied heavily on the atomic bomb and that would defeat the Soviet Union within six months. Access to Persian Gulf oil would be unnecessary in such a war. Between late 1946 and 1949, the JWPC formulated a number of strategies to incorporate Western assets in the Middle East into the larger plans of the United States to defeat the Soviet Union. The most important of these assets were the key air facilities at Abu Sueir, in the British-controlled Suez Canal Zone, and, secondarily, the American airfield at Dhahran, in Saudi Arabia.