U.S. PolicyThe broad national security interests and objectives expressed in the President's National Security Strategy (NSS) and the Chairman's National Military Strategy (NMS) form the foundation of the United States Central Command's theater strategy. The NSS directs implementation of a strategy of dual containment of the rogue states of Iraq and Iran as long as those states pose a threat to U.S. interests, to other states in the region, and to their own citizens. Dual containment is designed to maintain the balance of power in the region without depending on either Iraq or Iran. USCENTCOM's theater strategy is interest-based and threat-focused. The purpose of U.S. engagement, as espoused in the NSS, is to protect the United States' vital interest in the region - uninterrupted, secure U.S./Allied access to Gulf oil.
InterestsThe national interests outlined in the National Security Strategy and the objectives articulated in our National Military Strategy form the bases for the Central Command's objectives and supporting strategy. Primary among U.S. interests in the USCENTCOM AOR is uninterrupted secure access to Arabian Gulf oil. That in turn ensures freedom of navigation and access to commercial markets, security of friends and allies, and regional peace and stability through containment of Iran and Iraq and prevention of hostilities between India and Pakistan. Other interests include a comprehensive breakthrough in the Middle East Peace Process, and security of U.S. citizens and property throughout the region.
As a friend of mine recently wrote about a related document, "Mein Kampf, but without the subtlely"(that's hyperbole).
NOTE: Even now, oil companies are pushing the new Iraqi gov't to sign Production Sharing Agreements, which almost always work out well for the oil company and ill for the country. Think "blood-sharing agreement" with a cloud of mosquitos.
BONUS: The CENTCOM website promises two new features are "coming soon": "Ask CENTCOM" and podcasting—though what, exactly, would be podcast it doesn't say. Current features include "Heroes in Action!" and "What Extremists Are Saying" (see above). Disclaimer: I'm not against military heroism, just the feature and exclamation point. It's a shame the site doesn't also include "Recent Collateral Damage!"
UPDATE/MUSINGS: When, exactly, did we move from the 1995 "dual containment" strategy to the current "overthrow" strategy? Was it with the 1998 "Iraq Liberation Act" or was that merely Congressional cover for a strategy already on the books? I have no idea how these sorts of strategies develop; I'm just curious. Joshua Kurlantzick's GQ article "The Next War Is Closer Than You Think" shows an Iran regime-change policy moving from think tanks to the government, but while tantalizing and informative, it's only a piece of the puzzle.