A new historical account of the Persian Gulf
by Jeffrey R. Macris.

About the Book

The United States and Great Britain have fought in three hot wars in the Persian Gulf over the past generation -- the Iran-Iraq War, Desert Storm, and The Politics and Security of the GulfOperation Iraqi Freedom -- but what do we know about what brought these superpowers and their militaries to the turbulent region? How, in turn, has the presence of these foreign powers impacted the politics and security of the Gulf?

The Politics and Security of the Gulf: Anglo-American Hegemony and the Shaping of a Region, written by a Permanent Military Professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, is a historical narrative that examines two centuries of Persian Gulf history, along with Washington and London’s role in shaping it. The book examines how Anglo-American leaders fulfilled three enduring missions in the Gulf: maintaining interstate order, protecting trade, and keeping out other Great Powers. For over a century beginning in the mid 1800s Britain achieved this with a relatively modest amount of power -- primarily naval -- while drawing upon its vast Indian army when needed.  After World War II, however, the loss of Britain's empire ultimately forced London to withdraw from the Gulf region: the last of its permanently based ships and aircraft departed the Strait of Hormuz in 1971.

Offered the keys to British military bases, however, the Americans in the late 1960s and early 1970s declined to replace the British as security guarantors for the Gulf. In the ensuing superpower vacuum, two decades of political, economic, and military chaos followed: the 1973 oil crisis, the fall of the Shah, Watch the author on C-SPANthe Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (that portended a possible further thrust toward the Gulf), the Iran-Iraq war, and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.  After each of these foreign policy catastrophes, the United States took an incremental step toward policing the region. When Washington set up a permanent military presence in the Gulf following 1991's Desert Storm, the U.S. essentially had assumed the same missions that the British had previously fulfilled: maintaining interstate order, protecting trade, and keeping out other Great Powers. The large American military presence in the Gulf that arose in the 1990s, however, evoked a hostile conservative backlash, strengthening organizations like al Qaeda whose leaders vowed to drive the U.S. from the Middle East. The author concludes that given the enduring western interests in the region, and noting the chaos that followed a superpower vacuum there from 1971-1991, Anglo-American military forces will likely remain in the Gulf for decades to come.

A comprehensive and thorough look at the history of the Gulf and the contemporary issues affecting the region, this will be essential reading for students of Middle East history, military history, diplomatic history, and strategic studies.

Table of Contents

1. Great Britain's Legacy in the Persian Gulf

2. World War II and the Arrival of the Americans
The Early Cold War, the Loss of India, and Nasser's Revolt Against the British, 1946-1958

3. The British Position in the Gulf under Assault

4. The British Birth a New Gulf Order, 1968-1971

5. The Chaotic Interregnum: America Cries Enough, 1972-1991

6. Pax Americana - Bellum Americanum, 1991-present


Published by: Routledge

The opinions expressed in this work are those of the author and do not necesarily reflect those of the U.S. Government, the U.S. Navy, or the U.S. Naval Academy.

Praise for The Politics and Security of the Gulf:

"A superb political-military study of the Persian Gulf region that provides a sophisticated analysis of British interests, past and present, and how the United States inherited its current security role driven largely by Britain's withdrawal "East of Suez" and U.S. Cold War fears.  It is a legacy, as Dr. Macris cogently points out in his conclusion, that the United States will continue to find difficult to discharge in the 21st century as guardian of global public goods."

--Frank L. Jones
Professor of Security Studies
U.S. Army War College


"Jeffrey R. Macris has achieved what many others before him have failed to do. He has written a highly readable book that makes a big argument without sacrificing the details of the Anglo-American encounter with the Persian Gulf. Given that this region will be the primary area of U.S. diplomatic and military activity for the foreseeable future, "The Politics and Security of the Gulf" is an essential read for scholars, journalists, and policymakers."

--Steven A. Cook, PhD
Council on Foreign Relations, Washington
Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies


“Jeffrey Macris, has written a first-rate, timely and much-needed account of the handover of responsibility for the security of the Gulf from Britain to the United States during the past four decades. Let us hope that American and British policymakers will read it in order to avoid the mistakes of the past.”

--Dr. Saul Kelly,
Defence Studies Department, King's College, London
UK Joint Services Command and Staff College


“Jeffrey Macris is a first-rate scholar of history and of strategy. In this superb book he ranges over the history of the Persian Gulf and of the order provided that vital region by Pax Britannica, then by the Pax Americana. A vivid portrait of the Tumult swirling over the Persian Gulf, and of the play between foreign powers and the States of the Gulf. The fragility of order in the Gulf is depicted with great skill and poise.”

--Fouad Ajami
The Majid Khadduri Professor and Director of the Middle East Studies Program, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies


“In this careful historical study of the Persian Gulf, Jeffrey Macris chronicles a century of British and American involvement in Arab and  Iranian conflicts. Drawing on first-hand knowledge of the Gulf,  knowledge of Arabic, and prior military experience in the area, Macris  demonstrates that the Anglo-American presence—in contrast to the  influence of either the Soviets or aggressive dictators—was for the  most part positive, and contributed to steady progress in the region.  A candid and honest appraisal of a highly controversial and emotional subject—well-written, and thoroughly and dispassionately researched.”

--Victor Davis Hanson, senior fellow, classics and military history, the  Hoover Institution


"An examination, not merely of the security of the Persian Gulf, the Anglo-American relationship, the decline of one hegemon and the rise of another -- though it is all those things -- but a study in statecraft, with lessons for American policymakers today."

--Eliot A. Cohen
Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen and Wartime Leadership.
Director of Strategic Studies Program, Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies


“Prof. Macris's work is an outstanding contribution to our understanding of the critically important Gulf region. His extensive research provides the reader with a well-written, balanced view of the roles of both of London and Washington in this area of the world.”

--Miriam Joyce, Ph.D.
Professor of History
Purdue University Calumet
Ruling Shaikhs and Her Majesty's Government, and Kuwait, 1945-1996: An Anglo-American Perspective

Jeffrey R. Macris

  Author Biography

Jeffrey R. Macris is a Permanent Military Professor at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, where he teaches Middle Eastern history and military history. A resident of the Persian Gulf for nearly three years, he has worked with military officers from most of the Arab states of the Gulf. He holds an MA and PhD in Middle East Studies from Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies. In addition, he holds a linguist certificate in Arabic. (Photo in front of the Portuguese Fort, Bahrain).

Email: jrmacris@hotmail.com

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