Carter Doctrine

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A document related to the Carter Doctrine

The Carter Doctrine was a policy proclaimed by President of the United States Jimmy Carter in his State of the Union Address on January 23, 1980, which stated that the United States would use military force, if necessary, to defend its national interests in the Persian Gulf. It was a response to the Soviet Union's intervention in Afghanistan in 1979, and it was intended to deter the Soviet Union, the United States' Cold War adversary, from seeking hegemony in the Persian Gulf region.

President of the United States Head of state and of government of the United States

The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.

Jimmy Carter 39th president of the United States

James Earl Carter Jr. is an American politician and philanthropist who served as the 39th president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as a Georgia State Senator from 1963 to 1967 and as the 76th Governor of Georgia from 1971 to 1975. After his presidency, Carter has remained active in the private sector; in 2002, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in co-founding the Carter Center.

The national interest, often referred to by the French expression raison d'État, is a country's goals and ambitions, whether economic, military, cultural or otherwise. The concept is an important one in international relations, where pursuit of the national interest is the foundation of the realist school.


The following key sentence, which was written by Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's National Security Adviser, concludes the section:

Zbigniew Brzezinski Polish-American political scientist

Zbigniew Kazimierz Brzezinski was a Polish-American diplomat and political scientist. He served as a counselor to President Lyndon B. Johnson from 1966 to 1968 and was President Jimmy Carter's National Security Advisor from 1977 to 1981. Brzezinski belonged to the realist school of international relations, standing in the geopolitical tradition of Halford Mackinder and Nicholas J. Spykman. Brzezinski was the primary organizer of The Trilateral Commission.

National Security Advisor (United States) White House advisory position

The Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA), commonly referred to as the National Security Advisor (NSA) or at times informally termed the NSC Advisor, is a senior aide in the Executive Office of the President, based at the West Wing of the White House, who serves as the chief in-house advisor to the President of the United States on national security issues. The National Security Advisor is appointed by the President and does not require confirmation by the Senate, but an appointment of a three or four-star general to the role requires Senate reconfirmation of military rank.

Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.

Brzezinski modeled the wording on the Truman Doctrine, [1] and insisted the sentence to be included in the speech "to make it very clear that the Soviets should stay away from the Persian Gulf." [2]

Truman Doctrine US policy to contain communism in Europe and elsewhere during the Cold War

The Truman Doctrine was an American foreign policy whose stated purpose was to counter Soviet geopolitical expansion during the Cold War. It was announced to Congress by President Harry S. Truman on March 29, 1947, and further developed on July 4, 1948, when he pledged to contain threats in Greece and Turkey. Direct American military force was usually not involved, but Congress appropriated financial aid to support the economies and militaries of Greece and Turkey. More generally, the Truman Doctrine implied American support for other nations allegedly threatened by Soviet communism. The Truman Doctrine became the foundation of American foreign policy, and led, in 1949, to the formation of NATO, a military alliance that is still in effect. Historians often use Truman's speech to date the start of the Cold War.

In The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power , author Daniel Yergin notes that the Carter Doctrine "bore striking similarities" to a 1903 British declaration in which British Foreign Secretary Lord Landsdowne warned Russia and Germany that the British would "regard the establishment of a naval base or of a fortified port in the Persian Gulf by any other power as a very grave menace to British interests, and we should certainly resist it with all the means at our disposal." [3]

<i>The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power</i> Book

The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power is Daniel Yergin's history of the global petroleum industry from the 1850s through 1990. The Prize became a bestseller, helped by its release date in December 1990, four months after the invasion of Kuwait ordered by Saddam Hussein and one month before the U.S.-led coalition began the Gulf War to oust Iraqi troops from that country. The book eventually went on to win a Pulitzer Prize.

Daniel Yergin American author, speaker, and economic researcher

Daniel Howard Yergin is an American author, speaker, energy expert, and economic historian. Yergin is vice chairman of IHS Markit, a research and information company which absorbed his own energy research consultancy Cambridge Energy Research Associates in 2004. He has authored or co-authored several books on energy and world economics, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power (1991) and The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World (2011). Yergin's articles and op-eds on energy, history, and the economy have been published in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Financial Times. All of Yergin's books have been drafted in long-hand. Currently a director on entities such as the Council on Foreign Relations and the United States Energy Association, he is also a trustee of the Brookings Institution and a long-term advisor to several U.S. administrations. He is also chairman of the annual CERAWeek energy conference.

Great Britain island in the North Atlantic off the north-west coast of continental Europe

Great Britain is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean off the northwest coast of continental Europe. With an area of 209,331 km2 (80,823 sq mi), it is the largest of the British Isles, the largest European island, and the ninth-largest island in the world. In 2011, Great Britain had a population of about 61 million people, making it the world's third-most populous island after Java in Indonesia and Honshu in Japan. The island of Ireland is situated to the west of Great Britain, and together these islands, along with over 1,000 smaller surrounding islands, form the British Isles archipelago.


Oil and gas resources in the Persian Gulf region Oil and Gas Infrastructure Persian Gulf (large).gif
Oil and gas resources in the Persian Gulf region

The Persian Gulf region was first proclaimed to be of national interest to the United States during World War II. Petroleum is centrally important to modern armies. The United States, the world's leading oil producer at the time, supplied most of the oil for the Allied armies. Many American strategists were concerned that the war would dangerously reduce the US's oil supply and so they sought establishing good relations with Saudi Arabia, a kingdom with large oil reserves. On February 16, 1943, US President Franklin Roosevelt said, "the defense of Saudi Arabia is vital to the defense of the United States." [4]

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Petroleum Naturally occurring hydrocarbon liquid found underground

Petroleum is a naturally occurring, yellowish-black liquid found in geological formations beneath the Earth's surface. It is commonly refined into various types of fuels. Components of petroleum are separated using a technique called fractional distillation, i.e. separation of a liquid mixture into fractions differing in boiling point by means of distillation, typically using a fractionating column.

Allies of World War II Grouping of the victorious countries of World War II

The Allies of World War II, called the United Nations from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.

On February 14, 1945, while he was returning from the Yalta Conference, Roosevelt met with Saudi Arabian King Ibn Saud on the Great Bitter Lake in the Suez Canal, the first time a US president had visited the Persian Gulf region. During Operation Desert Shield in 1990, US Defense Secretary Dick Cheney cited the landmark meeting between Roosevelt and Ibn Saud as one of the justifications for sending troops to protect Saudi Arabia's border. [5]

Yalta Conference

The Yalta Conference, also known as the Crimea Conference and code-named the Argonaut Conference, held February 4–11 1945, was the World War II meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union to discuss the postwar reorganization of Germany and Europe. The three states were represented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Premier Joseph Stalin, respectively. The conference was held near Yalta in Crimea, Soviet Union, within the Livadia, Yusupov, and Vorontsov Palaces.

Ibn Saud Founder of Saudi Arabia

Abdulaziz ibn Abdul Rahman ibn Faisal ibn Turki ibn Abdullah ibn Muhammad Al Saud, usually known within the Arab world as Abdulaziz and in the West as Ibn Saud, was the first monarch and founder of Saudi Arabia, the "third Saudi state".

Great Bitter Lake salt water lake that is part of the Suez Canal

The Great Bitter Lake is a saltwater lake in Egypt, connected to the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea via the Suez Canal. It is connected to the Small Bitter Lake, through which the canal also runs. Before the canal was built (1869), the site was a dry salt valley or basin. References are made to the Great Bitter Lake in the ancient Pyramid Texts. Ships traveling through the Suez Canal use the Great Bitter Lake as a "passing lane", where they can change their position in line or turn around.

The Persian Gulf region was still regarded as an area of vital importance to the US during the Cold War. Three Cold War American presidential doctrines (the Truman, Eisenhower, and Nixon Doctrines) played roles in forming the Carter Doctrine. The Truman Doctrine, which stated that the US would send military aid to countries threatened by Soviet communism, was used to strengthen both Iran and Saudi Arabia's security. In October 1950, President Truman wrote to Ibn Saud that "the United States is interested in the preservation of the independence and territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia. No threat to your Kingdom could occur which would not be a matter of immediate concern to the United States." [6]

The Eisenhower Doctrine called for US troops to be sent to the Middle East to defend US allies against their Soviet-backed adversaries. Ultimately, the Nixon Doctrine's application provided military aid to Iran and Saudi Arabia so that US allies could ensure peace and stability there. In 1979, the Iranian Revolution and the Soviet intervention of Afghanistan prompted the restatement of US interests in the region in the form of the Carter Doctrine. [7]

In July 1979, responding to a national energy crisis, President Carter delivered his "Crisis of Confidence" speech, urging Americans to reduce their energy use to help lessen American dependence on foreign oil supplies. [8] Recently, some scholars have claimed that Carter's energy plan, if it had been fully enacted, would have prevented some of the current economic difficulties caused by the American dependency on foreign oil. [9]

The doctrine

U.S. President Jimmy Carter James Earl "Jimmy" Carter - NARA - 558522.tif
U.S. President Jimmy Carter

President Carter, in his State of the Union Address on January 23, 1980, after stating that Soviet troops in Afghanistan posed "a grave threat to the free movement of Middle East oil," proclaimed:

The region which is now threatened by Soviet troops in Afghanistan is of great strategic importance: It contains more than two-thirds of the world's exportable oil. The Soviet effort to dominate Afghanistan has brought Soviet military forces to within 300 miles of the Indian Ocean and close to the Straits of Hormuz, a waterway through which most of the world's oil must flow. The Soviet Union is now attempting to consolidate a strategic position, therefore, that poses a grave threat to the free movement of Middle East oil.
This situation demands careful thought, steady nerves, and resolute action, not only for this year but for many years to come. It demands collective efforts to meet this new threat to security in the Persian Gulf and in Southwest Asia. It demands the participation of all those who rely on oil from the Middle East and who are concerned with global peace and stability. And it demands consultation and close cooperation with countries in the area which might be threatened.
Meeting this challenge will take national will, diplomatic and political wisdom, economic sacrifice, and, of course, military capability. We must call on the best that is in us to preserve the security of this crucial region.
Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.


The Carter administration began to build up the Rapid Deployment Force, which would eventually become CENTCOM. In the interim, the administration asked Congress to restart Selective Service registration, proposed a five percent increase in military spending for each of the next five years, and expanded the US naval presence in the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. [10] :855 [11] :123

A negative response came from retired strategist George F. Kennan, [12] . United States Senator Edward Kennedy charged that Carter had overreacted, exaggerated the Soviet threat, and failed to act diplomatically. Kennedy repeated his allegations in his contest with Carter for the 1980 Democratic presidential election, in which he was badly defeated. [13]

Carter's successor, Ronald Reagan, extended the policy in October 1981 with what is sometimes called the "Reagan Corollary to the Carter Doctrine," which proclaimed that the United States would intervene to protect Saudi Arabia, whose security was believed to be threatened during the Iran–Iraq War. Thus, while the Carter Doctrine warned away outside forces from the region, the Reagan Corollary pledged to secure internal stability. According to diplomat Howard Teicher, "with the enunciation of the Reagan Corollary, the policy groundwork was laid for Operation Desert Storm." [14]

See also


  1. Brzezinski, Zbigniew. Power and Principle: Memoirs of the National Security Adviser, 1977-1981. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1983. ISBN   0-374-23663-1. pg. 444.
  2. Huang, Jennifer (March 19, 2003), "A Cold War Legacy of Persian Gulf Conflict", Independent Arts and Media,, archived from the original on August 19, 2008, retrieved 2008-10-16
  3. ( Yergin 1991 , pp. 140, 702)
  4. ( Klare 2004 , p. 33)
  5. ( Klare 2004 , p. 36)
  6. ( Yergin 1991 , p. 428)
  7. ( Klare 2004 , pp. 33–45)
  8. Carter, Jimmy, Crisis of Confidence, The Carter Center , retrieved 2008-07-27
  9. Wheelan, Joseph (2008-07-15), "Second Hearing for Carter", Atlanta Journal-Constitution , archived from the original on 2008-07-30, retrieved 2008-07-27 Reprinted at History News Network
  10. Herring, George C. (2008). From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776 . New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN   9780195078220.
  11. Patterson, James T. (2005). Restless Giant: The United States from Watergate to Bush v. Gore. New York: Oxford University Press.
  12. Thomas G. Paterson (1989). Meeting the Communist Threat: Truman to Reagan. p. 144.
  13. Burton Hersh (2010). Edward Kennedy: An Intimate Biography. p. 529.
  14. Teicher, Howard and Gayle Radley Teicher. Twin Pillars to Desert Storm: America's Flawed Vision in the Middle East from Nixon to Bush. New York: Morrow, 1993. pp. 145-6

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The Nixon Doctrine, also known as the Guam Doctrine, was put forth during a press conference in Guam on July 25, 1969 by President of the United States Richard Nixon and later formalized in his speech on Vietnamization of the Vietnam War on November 3, 1969. According to Gregg Brazinsky, author of "Nation Building in South Korea: Koreans, Americans, and the Making of a Democracy", Nixon stated that "the United States would assist in the defense and developments of allies and friends", but would not "undertake all the defense of the free nations of the world." This doctrine meant that each ally nation was in charge of its own security in general, but the United States would act as a nuclear umbrella when requested. The Doctrine argued for the pursuit of peace through a partnership with American allies.

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Containment American political strategy against spread of communism

Containment is a geopolitical "strategic foreign policy pursued by the United States". It is loosely related to the term cordon sanitaire which was later used to describe the geopolitical containment of the Soviet Union in the 1940s. The strategy of "containment" is best known as a Cold War foreign policy of the United States and its allies to prevent the spread of communism after the end of World War II.

A United States presidential doctrine comprises the key goals, attitudes, or stances for United States foreign affairs outlined by a president. Most presidential doctrines are related to the Cold War. Though many U.S. presidents had themes related to their handling of foreign policy, the term doctrine generally applies to presidents such as James Monroe, Harry S. Truman, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, all of whom had doctrines which more completely characterized their foreign policy.

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