Iran: What Strategic Importance to the Free World? (1966)
Iran occupies an important position in the area commonly referred to as the Middle East. It forms a bridgehead on the way to Central Asia, bars the way to India and points the way to Africa and Europe. It was the world’s first great empire and, throughout its two thousand five hundred year history, has kept its cultural identity intact in spite of numerous invasions. Iran has eluded foreign domination notwithstanding its strategic location, which has made it an aspiration of all would-be world conquerors. Today, a coveted neighbor of the Soviet Union and one of the richest oil producing countries in the world, Iran occupies a position of great strategic importance to both the Free and the Communist Worlds. It provides direct and relatively easy access to or egress from the southern plain of the Soviet Union thus providing an important element in the forward defense concept of the Free World. Iran blocks the way to warm water ports on the Persian Gulf and offers a buffer shielding the essential and the vast oil deposits of the Persian Gulf area from the Soviet Union. Iran’s location as well as her oil marks her as an important element in the strategic and commercial considerations of the western world. Threatened internally by the lack of a developed economy and the great gap between the rich and poor, Iran is in the throes of a social and economic revolution, which is being fostered by its Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi. Progress is being achieved in social, administrative, and economic reform. Education, health and modernization programs are being aggressively pursued. Given time, Iran should prove to be a stable and extremely important ally of the Free World.