Courtesy Reuters

Strategic Communications in the Middle East

THE importance of the Middle Eastern region to the present and future course of the war is hardly a matter for debate. Just as during the First World War, the pattern of events in the great area reaching from the Eastern Mediterranean to India may greatly shorten or prolong the period of hostilities. It may be too much to say that the war can be won for the United Nations in this region; but it would be hard to deny that an outstanding Axis victory there, involving the conquest of Suez and the Caucasus, might make the decisive military defeat of the Axis next to impossible.

The stakes are great. An Axis conquest would deprive the Allies of the oil of the Caucasus, Mosul and Iran. Even if the retreating United Nations forces carried out a ruthless "scorched earth" policy so that the Axis could not obtain oil in the conquered fields except after many months of new drilling and construction, the United Nations themselves, already deprived of the oil of Burma and the Netherlands Indies, would find their own fuel problem immensely complicated. Further, the last supply line to Russia, except the sea route via the North Cape, would have been cut, and the German and Japanese forces meeting on the shores of the Arabian Sea would be in a strategically strong position, because they would then be in effeictve control of virtually all of the eastern, western and southern coast line of the vast Eurasian land mass. China would be cut off from British and Amecrian sources of supply entirely, except as a thin trickle of war materials might be brought in through Russia. Under such circumstances the Axis could tighten an iron ring gradually and inexorably about both Powers. The British Isles, Australia, and tropical Africa would be the only bases remaining in the hands of the United Nations from which large-scale attacks, aerial and otherwise, could be launched upon Axis territory; and though attacks so based might

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