Carter Doctrine

views updated May 18 2018

Carter Doctrine (1980).Announced by President Jimmy Carter on 24 January 1980, the “Carter Doctrine” extended U.S. containment policy to the Persian Gulf region. Under pressure from containment advocates, Carter concluded that the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan might be the first step in a threat to the Persian Gulf oil resources. Furthermore, with the overthrow of the shah of Iran (and seizure of American hostages) by militant Islamic revolutionaries earlier in 1979, the United States had lost its primary military ally in the gulf.

To ensure protection of Middle East oil, Carter declared that the United States would consider any attempt by an outside force (the Soviet Union) to gain control of the gulf region an assault on U.S. vital interests that would be repelled by military force if necessary. Consequently, Carter expanded military aid to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, and Pakistan, and went beyond surrogate forces to create a U.S. Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDF).

From its new headquarters, the RDF could call upon 200,000 troops from all services to meet emergencies in the gulf. It also acquired air and naval basing rights at Diego Garcia, a British atoll in the Indian Ocean, for positioning more than a dozen preloaded merchant ships to support any initial deployment. Additional basing rights were sought in several East African countries. Many of these were later used in the Persian Gulf War of 1991.
[See also Middle East, U.S. Military Involvement in the.]


Gaddis Smith , Morality, Reason, and Power: American Diplomacy in the Carter Years, 1986.
Burton I. Kaufman , The Presidency of James Earl Carter, Jr., 1993.

John Whiteclay Chambers II

Carter Doctrine

views updated May 21 2018


CARTER DOCTRINE. In response to the 1979 overthrow of the shah of Iran and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan the same year, President James Earl Carter warned in his January 1980 State of the Union address that "any attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf" would constitute a threat to vital U.S. interests, especially oil, and would be met by military action. Carter backed the declaration by creating a Rapid Deployment Force, boosting military spending, and cultivating expanded military ties from Pakistan to Egypt. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush invoked the doctrine in sending U.S. troops to confront Iraq during the Gulf War.


Dumbrell, John. The Carter Presidency: A Re-evaluation. Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 1993.

Smith, Gaddis. Morality, Reason, and Power: American Diplomacy in the Carter Years. New York: Hill and Wang, 1986.

Max PaulFriedman

See alsoAfghanistan, Soviet Invasion of ; Arab Nations, Relations with ; Iran, Relations with ; Russia, Relations with .

About this article

Carter doctrine

All Sources -
Updated Aug 08 2016 About content Print Topic