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Soviet Strategy, Opportunities, and Constraints in Southwestern Asia

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The collapse of the Pahlavi dynasty and Soviet invasion of Afghanistan have combined to focus the attention of the United States upon Southwestern Asia. One of the most important current issues in U. S. defense planning is: how can the United States best secure its interests in Southwestern Asia?1 Part of the answer lies in identifying U. S. constraints and then attempting to solve shortfalls in U. S. strategy, forces, and regional relations. Those issues have been examined elsewhere and are not the central focus of this article. Another part of the answer lies in understanding what are Soviet interests, objectives, and major elements of strategy toward the Third World in general and specifically Southwestern Asia. What opportunities and advantages does Moscow have in the region? And, finally, are there political, economic, and military factors which would constrain future Soviet behavior in Southwestern Asia? These are the questions this study will analyze in an attempt to demonstrate that the United States is not competing in Southwestern Asia in a zero-sum game where Moscow holds all the aces.

Affiliations: 1: (U. S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Penn., U.S.A.


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