Air University Review, January-February 1983

Avoiding the Burden
the Carter Doctrine in perspective

Dr. Lawrence E. Grinter

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty.

President John F. Kennedy, 20 January 1961

In his inaugural address in 1961, President John F. Kennedy challenged a new generation of Americans to take up the torch of freedom. An exciting and vital period in American history began in which many young Americans translated idealism into energy by trying to better their world at home and abroad. The Peace Corps, the civil rights movement, and even the military offered avenues of service. In 1962, America reached its hegemony as a world power. The Soviet challenge in Berlin had been answered. At the Geneva Conference in July, discussions thwarted a Communist victory in Laos. In October, the United States put its word on the line, its military forces on alert, and demanded that the Soviets remove their missiles and bombers from Cuba. Faced with an overwhelming American superiority in nuclear weapons, the Soviets complied.

In late 1963, things began to sour. The United States became involved in a war in Southeast Asia that it could not win. At home the civil rights movement became bloody, and black power advocates forced young whites out of some organizations. Many of these whites turned to the growing antiwar movement. By the end of the decade, American policy in Southeast Asia devolved to "peace with honor" or what was termed by the commander of the Australian Army Advisory Team in Vietnam, "a shameless bug out." Watergate, Koreagate, perceived abuses of power by federal agencies, and, in Vietnam, defeat—all spelled a bitter end to muscular Americanism. With the torch of freedom extinguished in the rotor wash of the last helicopters leaving Saigon, Americans wondered if our nation could, or should, perform as boldly as it once had on the world stage. By the midseventies, disillusion and self-doubt had supplanted confidence and idealism in American society and in its government. Thus, the options open to the incoming Carter administration were delineated, and the tenuous course was plotted.


ON 23 January 1980, in his State of the Union Address, President Jimmy Carter announced a new American policy that came to be called the Carter Doctrine. Referring to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Mr. Carter warned that:

An attempt by an 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.1

Although precipitated by the Soviet invasion, Mr. Carter’s policy also followed eighteen months of turmoil in Iran, as the Shah’s government, ambivalently supported by the Carter administration, collapsed and the radical Khomeini regime took power eventually imprisoning 53 United States personnel in the American embassy in Teheran.

Throughout the middle and late 1970s, the West’s security position in critical Third World areas had gradually deteriorated. From 1974 onward, there were Marxist takeovers in Angola, Mozambique, Guinea, Ethiopia, South Yemen, South Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Rhodesia, Afghanistan, and Nicaragua; attempted coups in Sudan, Somalia, and Egypt; Khomeini’s revolution in Iran; the deterioration of Lebanon’s security; two failed secessions in Zaire; and the spread of Libyan and Cuban extremism under Soviet support.

The Carter Doctrine, which took many foreign capitals by surprise,2 came at the conclusion of these developments. In his statement, the President sought to persuade the world that American interests in and around the Persian Gulf were so vital that the United States would fight if necessary. Concurrent with Mr. Carter’s pronouncement came an intensified search by Defense and State Department officials for new military arrangements with Kenya, Somalia, Oman, Egypt, and Pakistan. Diego Garcia, the British territory in the Indian Ocean, also received new attention. On 1 March 1980, the United States Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force(RDJTF) was formally established by Secretary of Defense Harold Brown at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. Its primary mission was subsequently focused exclusively on deployment to the Middle East and Southwest Asia.3 By early 1981, when Ronald Reagan took office as President, the RDJTF was estimated to have grown to more than 200,000 CONUS-based forces, including 100,000 Army troops, 50,000 Marines, and additional Air Force and Navy personnel.4

Origins of the Doctrine

What caused the Carter Doctrine? It is clear that the immediate event which precipitated President Carter’s new policy, and motivated him to develop a containment strategy for the Persian Gulf area,5 was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. However, a careful reading of the President’s public statements during the 18 months prior to the invasion reveals Mr. Carter’s growing, though fluctuating, concern over mounting Soviet and Soviet client pressure in the Third World and the relentless Soviet arms buildup in Europe.

Unlike John Kennedy, Jimmy Carter did not take office ready to confront the Soviet Union. In fact, Mr. Carter had come to the Presidency pledging to remove American combat troops from Korea, seek substantial cuts in American and Soviet strategic weapons, reduce U.S. arms sales abroad, and elevate the human rights performance of our friends to a prime criterion in deciding on future levels of support. Indeed, as late as February 1978, Secretary of Defense Brown was explaining military assistance from the viewpoint that:

Military assistance can be used to promote human rights by altering the size or functions of our military representation, the level of training grants, and the quantity and types of arms transfers.6

In their speeches in 1977 and early 1978, President Carter and his senior foreign policy and defense officials had emphasized the differences between their policies and those of the Ford and Nixon administrations. The contrast with the earlier Kennedy era was also evident. The United States, in the new President’s view, was now "free of that inordinate fear of Communism." Interagency studies of U.S. military strategy and force posture ordered early in the Carter presidency, and resultant presidential decisions, codified these shifts from the Nixon/ Ford/Kissinger focus. Particularly relevant was the study entitled "Comprehensive Net Assessment and Military Force Posture Review." It saw the United States and the U.S.S.R. in rough strategic balance, and U.S.-Soviet relations characterized by both competition and cooperation; the Soviet Union was found suffering from major internal disabilities, although capable of doing great damage to Western Europe should she attack, and also holding preeminent power in the Far East. President Carter was generally in agreement with the assumptions, and he authorized major United States initiatives in arms control while also directing that force modernization at the general-purpose forces level continue. In short the Carter administration saw global security trends as more sanguine and less ominous than the "clearly adverse trends" pointed to in the Ford administration’s final assessments.7

However, by mid-1978, when the burgeoning Soviet threat and deteriorating Third World conditions had reached alarming proportions Mr. Carter found it necessary to shift his views. But he also discovered that many of the officials he had appointed had not changed their views, nor would they.

The following details are noteworthy:

• In a speech at Notre Dame University in May 1977, the same month that he proposed cutting conventional arms sales, President Carter emphasized democracy, human rights, and détente with the Soviet Union: a détente that would produce "reciprocal stability, parity, and security." Mr. Carter continued: "we are now free of that inordinate fear of Communism which once led us to embrace any dictator who joined us in our fear."8

• Ten months later at Winston-Salem in March 1978, following the destruction of Somalia’s army by Ethiopia’s Soviet-advised and Cuban-braced forces, the President acknowledged a new priority: "An ominous inclination on the part of the Soviet Union to use its military power—to intervene in local conflicts, with advisors, with equipment, and with full logistical support and encouragement for mercenaries from other Communist countries, as we can observe today in Africa."9

• In April 1978, a Soviet-backed Marxist coup d’état in Afghanistan brought down the civilian Daoud government. In Kabul the new Afghan leader was Noor Mohammed Taraki, a Soviet-oriented Marxist. Taraki’s fractured and violent Communist party attempted several radical modernization programs which, coupled with the government’s atheism, set off revolts among the Muslim tribes.

• At the Naval Academy in June 1978, Mr. Carter argued that détente remained important and that the Carter administration wanted to "increase our collaboration with the Soviet Union." However, after surveying Moscow’s aggressive activities, the President stated: "The Soviet Union can choose either confrontation or cooperation. The United States is adequately prepared to meet either choice."10

• Throughout all of 1978, as demonstrations and violence shook Teheran and weakened the Shah’s hold on power, the Carter administration oscillated back and forth between supporting him and pressing for reform. On 16 January 1979, with Iran’s armed forces hopelessly demoralized as the radicals gathered strength, the Shah left Iran never to return.

• In February 1979, with Iran in chaos, Hanoi on the march across Indochina, and Cuban troops roaming about Africa, President Carter spoke at Georgia Tech. He now saw turmoil and crisis in the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia. He proposed a real increase in the defense budget, still lobbied for the SALT II Treaty, but pointedly held open the possibility of modernizing the U.S. strategic triad.11

• In November 1979, Iranian mobs again stormed the U.S. embassy in Teheran and initially imprisoned 66 American personnel.

• On 27 December 1979, the Soviet Union, having presided over the installation of two previous Marxist governments in Kabul, invaded Afghanistan with 80,000 troops and installed a new puppet government headed by Babrak Karmal.12 The Soviet actions evidently shocked President Carter, who commented that it had "made a more dramatic change in my own opinion of what the Soviets’ ultimate goals are than anything they’ve done in the previous time I’ve been in office."13

• On 21 January 1980, Mr. Carter gave his State of the Union Message to Congress. The President cited "the steady growth and increased projection abroad of Soviet military power," the "overwhelming dependence of Western nations on vital oil supplies from the Middle East," and the "pressures of change in many nations of the developing world." The "Soviet attack on Afghanistan and the ruthless extermination of its government" constitute "a threat to global peace, to East-West relations, and to regional stability and to the flow of oil."14

• Two days later, in his State of the Union Address, Mr. Carter called for containment in the Persian Gulf.

Thus we see a President, pushed relentlessly by external events, abandon the basis of his initial policies. Ten months later he was soundly defeated for reelection.

The Crisis in Southwest Asia

By late spring 1978, when it was clear that the Shah of Iran was in trouble, the Carter administration had before it three general policy options:

• Back the Shah to the hilt as the policeman of the Persian Gulf: The traditional U.S. policy.

• Disassociate the United States from the Shah and seek a dialogue with Khomeini and other radical Moslems in the region.

• Continue to support the Shah while pressing Teheran and other conservative governments for reform.

back the Shah

American governments had long viewed the Shah of Iran as one of the most dependable pro-West leaders in the whole Mideast and Southwest Asia area. Along with the Saud monarchy in Saudi Arabia, the Pahlavi dynasty in Teheran was the linchpin in the United States "two-pillar" policy in the Middle East—a policy that had brought Saudi Arabia and Iran into prominence as being critical to Western interests.

Following the Eisenhower and Kennedy commitments to the Shah and to the Saudis, the Johnson administration had pressed the Iranian monarch to carry out reforms—land redistribution, greater freedoms and rights for women, rapid improvements in education. These programs, it was felt, had to accompany Iran’s rapid drive for industrialization and military strength. The Shah’s power was known to be autocratic and at times arbitrary, nevertheless the monarch was seen as personally stable and generally enlightened if, at times, solitary and somewhat insecure. The fact that he made all the major decisions himself—was emperor, de facto prime minister, and commander in chief of the armed forces, as well as knowledgeable and supportive of (if not directly involved in) SAVAK’s internal security activities—was taken into account. But the overall strategic value of Iran and the Shah to the United States was appreciated by every American administration from Eisenhower through Ford. President Nixon had gone farthest, encouraging the Shah to cast himself in the role of regional policeman.15

In his state visit to Teheran at the close of 1977, President Carter had publicly and forcefully aligned himself with this traditional American policy and with the Shah. At a New Year’s Eve banquet in Teheran on 31 December 1977, Carter expressed his satisfaction at finding himself on a stable island in a turbulent world sea:

I am proud and pleased to be able to visit at the end of my first year in office and begin another year with our close friends and allies.16

The toast would later come back to haunt the Carter administration. Nevertheless, in keeping with the verbal support, there was continuing military support—virtually all of the Shah’s requests, paid for in cash, were granted by the Carter administration, sometimes at political cost in the Congress.

The Shah had been through difficult times before. He had been restored to his Peacock Throne in 1953. There had been revolts, assassination plots, and the exiling of dissidents. But as the crisis of 1978 developed and deepened, echelons in the Carter administration debated, wavered, and then splintered in their support of the Shah.

abandon the Shah and realign with the
moderate elements of the revolution

During the Carter presidency, the State Department’s Bureau of Human Rights was headed by Patricia Derian, a liberal political activist who had worked in Mississippi during the American civil rights movement of the 1960s. Once appointed to State, Ms. Derian publicly deplored aspects of the Shah’s rule, particularly SAVAK, and issued low ratings for Iran’s and other pro-American government’s treatment of dissidents. Aligned with Derian in a general way was President Carter’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young, who on one occasion had referred to the Ayatollah Khomeini as a "saint." The American Ambassador to Iran, William Sullivan, a veteran diplomat of many years experience and an acute observer of the stresses in Iranian society, sought to steer a middle course through the official U.S. debates on Iran. Nevertheless, when instructed, Sullivan also would remind the Shah of the State Department’s concern (and presumably President Carter’s) about the regime’s treatment of its enemies.17

With the exception of Ms. Derian and members of her staff,18 it is unlikely that other American officials were ready to dump the Shah immediately and cast U.S. policy in the Gulf to the revolutionaries. What is clear, however, is that when the voices of critics were added to the activities of the demonstrators in Teheran and Washington, all of it lavished with media coverage, new and destabilizing aspects to United States policy were set in motion. When these pressures were contrasted to the periodic expressions of support for the Shah still coming from the White House, it evidently created more confusion and indecision in Teheran.

support the Shah while pressing for reform

In fact, by the fall of 1978, events in Iran had moved so fast and U.S. intelligence on the situation was so inadequate that American policy was on the edge of a debacle. The Iranian armed forces—whose officer corps had been carefully cultivated by the Shah and had sworn a personal oath of allegiance to him—witnessed the growing disorder and violence in Teheran. Knowing of the Carter administration’s discomfort at attempts to repress it, the generals nevertheless urged the Shah to crack down. The result, enacted on the 7th of September, was "martial law" without exactly being martial law. Opponents of the Shah quickly found they could challenge their sovereign’s authority and court the foreign media.

As the crisis deepened, the pressures collided with the Shah’s basic desire not to go against the Iranian people. The monarch alternated between authorizing force and then making major concessions (what the skeptics termed "feeding the crocodiles"). His policy became paralyzed:

The Shah subjected himself to the worst of both worlds: the repression was sufficient to bring down upon him the antagonism of his enemies and their supporters, as well as those—in the media and even in the American government— who were genuinely concerned about human rights. But the imposition of martial law was not sufficient to stop the demonstrations or, ominously, the growing wave of strikes, particularly in the oil fields.19

Even by late 1978 few people in the Carter administration, including the American embassy staff in Teheran,20 seemed to know much about the leaders or directions of the revolution. Khomeini’s violent ideas and extraordinarily anti-American, anti-Zionist views apparently had not yet registered. U.S. policy appears to have straddled both sides. For example:

—Shortly after the Shah declared martial law, President Carter called him to voice support.

—Yet in October, after weeks of daily reports sent back to Washington on events in Iran, Ambassador William H. Sullivan "could detect neither high-level concern nor any comprehensive attitude toward the events that were in progress."

—On 4 November 1978, as rioters spread fires across Teheran, destroying banks, theatres, and the British embassy, security advisor Brzezinski called the Shah from the Iranian embassy in Washington to express his assurance that the United States would "back him to the hilt."

—Concurrently, certain high-level State Department officials evidently had concluded that the Shah was the major problem in Iran and that he had to go regardless of who replaced him.

—Energy Secretary James Schlesinger (a previous Defense Secretary in the Ford administration) argued that the Shah had to be saved, and proposed a U.S. show of force in the Indian Ocean.

—Late in December President Carter seems to have agreed, dispatching the aircraft carrier Constellation to the Indian Ocean. Then, possibly out of concern over risk to the carrier, the President countermanded his own order.21

Thus, as time ran out for the Shah and for Washington, the Carter administration split between supporting the monarch, dumping him, or riding out the storm. Events, not policy, now determined American responses in Southwest Asia.

Too Little, Too Late

In the last days of 1978, just before the Shah left Teheran and as the Soviet hand was deepening in Afghanistan, a series of proposals on the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia occupied President Carter’s attention. The hawks, led by Brzezinski and Schlesinger and convinced that the Shah was through in Iran, favored a military takeover in Teheran to create a buffer between American interests and the mullahs. This, it was believed, would be a key move in restabilizing the region. Ambassador Sullivan also wanted to see a barricade built, especially against the far left, and he was sifting the alternatives in Teheran. President Carter, generally opposed to coups anywhere, heard out the many proposals. After much jockeying and tense debate in Washington, a temporary compromise was struck: U.S. policy would attempt to see fashioned a moderate civilian government in Teheran backed (not dominated) by the military.

The man chosen to convey this compromise position to Iranian authorities was an American Air Force officer serving in Europe, General Robert E. Huyser. Huyser was instructed to tell the Iranian generals that Washington would continue its logistic support of the armed forces but wanted them to transfer their loyalty to the centrist government of Shahpur Bakhtiar, provided that government had a good chance of survival.22 The generals predictably wanted assurances for the future. Working closely with Sullivan, for three weeks Huyser met daily with the generals, discouraging a coup. After sending final reports to Washington which have been described as "upbeat," Huyser left Teheran on 3 February.23 A very different picture of what was happening in Teheran was contained in Ambassador Sullivan’s cables. Sullivan, whose reporting earned him the enmity of Brzezinski and possibly others in the White House, insisted that the military had lost its will, that important elements of the armed forces were defecting, that the mullahs were relentlessly gathering strength, and that the Bakhtiar government, some of whose ministers had left the country, had only the thinnest layer of support. The masses in Teheran were with Khomeini.24 The religious leader returned to Teheran on 31 January. Ten days later mobs armed with machine guns attacked the U.S. embassy, and Iran’s armed forces went to pieces. On 3 November 1979, the American embassy was stormed again, and 66 U.S. personnel were taken prisoner. Thirteen were released in a few days, but the remainder stayed captive in Iran until 30 minutes after Jimmy Carter had turned the White House over to Ronald Reagan at noon on 21 January 1981.


How do we measure the success or failure of the Carter Doctrine? One way of evaluating its effectiveness, or at least the acceptability of the doctrine, is to examine the Reagan administration’s policies toward the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia. Clearly, in spite of the collapse of U.S. policy in Iran, the broader actions which President Carter finally ordered--a toughened stance toward the Soviets, a search for new military facilities in and around the Gulf, an increased emphasis on the Rapid Deployment Force, and the attempt to rescue the hostages--generally coincided with Mr. Reagan’s thinking. Mr. Carter’s reluctant shift toward an incipient intervention strategy in the Gulf also had the tacit approval of the American public.

Did U.S. policy achieve its goals? Measured by the ultimate criterion of no Soviet invasion of the Persian Gulf (so far), one may in this regard answer yes. The Carter Doctrine, the Rapid Deployment Force, and the Reagan administration’s tough posture toward Soviet aggression are all part of the new deterrence equation in the Gulf and Southwest Asia.

But the other side of the question involves why the attempt at regional containment embodied in the Carter Doctrine had to come after the collapse of Iran and after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; and whether, if it had been announced in 1977, it would have prevented the fall of the Shah and Soviet aggression. Clearly United States influence in Afghanistan—even before the April 1978 Marxist coup— was virtually minimal. Moscow acted there in what it saw as its own best interests. Moreover, did the Carter administration’s general policies in the region--policies that downgraded threats from the left in favor of pushing friends and allies on human rights performance—contribute to Moscow’s feeling that it could take direct action in Afghanistan, and possibly indirect action in Iran, without fear of retaliation from Washington? We do not know. But it is a relevant question given the Carter policies and the collapse of the American position in Southwest Asia. At the same time we cannot be sure that the Soviets would not have invaded Afghanistan anyway, Carter Doctrine or no Carter Doctrine.

And what of Iran and the Carter administration’s response to the Shah’s difficulties? After the Shah left Teheran in January 1979, he is reported to have remained convinced for weeks that the American government all along had a grand strategy that was simply beyond his ken. Given Iran’s and the Gulf’s strategic importance to the West, given the steady support by five previous American administrations, perhaps President Carter simply had reasoned that the Shah was expendable and a new stable, pro-West civilian regime was required. Or maybe Mr. Carter had decided to seek an alliance with radical Muslim nationalists in the area dedicated to igniting dissidence inside the Soviet Union’s central Asian republics. What the Shah could not believe was that no plan no strategic objective existed in Washington. Yet as events revealed, that in essence was what lay behind the administration’s response to the crisis in the Gulf. When on 23 January 1980, a year after the Shah had left Iran, eighty days after the humiliating imprisonment of American officials in Teheran, and a month after Soviet tanks had garrisoned Kabul, President Carter announced his containment doctrine, the world was surprised, as was the Shah.

Implications for the Future

first and foremost, every administration
must have a clear, consistent policy
toward the Soviet Union

Perhaps the single most telling flaw in the Carter administration’s foreign policy was its lack of a clear, consistent policy toward the Soviet Union. Administration policy seems to have oscillated between hard-liners and doves, between, for example, Brzezinski and Schlesinger on one side and Vance and Andrew Young on the other. Mr. Carter’s revelation after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan that the action had done more to educate him about real Soviet motives than anything else was an extraordinary statement for an incumbent American President to make. Without the President’s having clear views about Soviet motives, it is not surprising that fluctuations among bureaucrats—all with special interests—would fill the void.

the American government did not have
adequate intelligence on Iran,
its leadership, and the opposition

No other government but ours is to blame for our confusion about the situation in Iran. Executive and congressional branch confusion on Iran was, in part, a result of the hobbling of American intelligence services that began in 1974 during the Watergate affair. The dropping of area specialists from government service also played a role. The lesson: The intelligence curbs and the decline in area specialists during the 1970s went too far. Moreover, it is doubtful that the Iranian intelligence failure is an isolated case.

if a President repudiates his policies,
there will be costs

Mr. Carter’s about-face on the Persian Gulf situation and the Soviet threat was forced on him by events. The President rejected the rose-colored glasses that had been his administration’s national security policy filter since 1977. But many of the officials that the President and his deputies appointed did not change their views. This seemed particularly true among the human rights advocates at State, CIA, and in the White House. It also seems to have been the case at the Mideast and African bureaus of State, where regional rather than global views naturally predominated. Mr. Carter found that his administration’s inability to sustain a consistent and realistic foreign policy was one of the problems that cost him with the American electorate in November 1980.

revolutions are nasty, unpredictable affairs;
attempting to control or fine-tune them from the outside is risky

Once a revolution reaches a critical point, temporizing in support for a beleaguered government—or oscillating between supporting the government and dumping it—is probably a fatal practice. Trying to force a Third World government to reform when it is being gutted from within by a revolutionary totalitarian movement is a recipe for disaster. This, in essence, and after much uncertainty, is what the Carter administration’s approach toward Iran finally came down to. The lesson is applicable to a variety of Third World countries where the United States has critical interests.

To cite a current example, opposition members of the United States Congress have pressed the Reagan administration to cut off aid to the government of El Salvador because of its human rights violations. These lawmakers evidently ignore or derogate the fact that the Salvador government is combating a Marxist revolutionary force directly supported by the Communist world. Thus the Carter experience with the Southwest Asia crisis suggests that American policy cannot have it both ways: we cannot press friendly Third World governments undergoing revolutionary attack to liberalize without destabilizing their power and possibly contributing to their collapse. The time for reform, if reform is relevant, is before the revolution reaches its crisis point. And that, of course, requires both advance warning and a genuine interest in the problem before it becomes a crisis—something few American administrations demonstrate a capacity to understand.

Air Command and Staff College
Maxwell AFB, Alabama


1. President Jimmy Carter, State of the Union Address, 23 January 1980, as cited by Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, "US Foreign Policy: Our Broader Strategy," 27 March 1980, Department of State, Current Policy No. 153, as reprinted in Case Study: National Security Policy under Carter, Department of National Security Affairs, Air War College, AY 1980-81, p. 98.

2. Foreign capitals including our European allies evidently were not consulted on this new direction in American policy. Symptomatic was West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt’s reaction: "What we need today," said Schmidt after meeting with President Carter in March, "is a concept for a coherent, sustainable Western policy … Consistency is a key element if you are seeking to stabilize the world." As cited in Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., "Collapse of the Carter Policy," Wall Street Journal, March 13, 1980, p. 26

3. Statement of Lieutenant General P. X. Kelly, USMC, Commander, Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force, February 1980, Department of Defense Authorization for Appropriation of Fiscal Year 1981, Hearings before the Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate, 96th Congress, Second Session, Part I, Defense Posture (Washington, D.C., 1980), pp. 440-41; and General David C. Jones, USAF, United States Military Posture for FY 1982 (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, 1981), pp. 55-56.

4. George C. Wilson, "Split Seen among Joint Chiefs of Staff over Rapid Deployment Force," Washington Post, February 3, 1981, p. 3.

5. It might be recalled that other American-encouraged containment efforts in the Gulf area had preceded the Carter Doctrine: the Allied Middle East Command, the Middle East Defense Organization, the Baghdad Pact, and its successor, the Central Treaty Organization.

6. Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, Department of Defense Annual Report, FY 1979 (Washington, D.C.: USGPO, February 2, 1978), p. 252.

7. The "Comprehensive Net Assessment" study responded to tasking by Presidential Review Memorandum Number 10 (PRM-10) of March 1977. The resultant Presidential Decision l8 (PD—l8) was issued in the fall of 1977. See Hedrick Smith, "Carter Study Takes More Hopeful View of Strategy of US," New York Times, July 8, 1977, p. 1; Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, "Today’s National Security Policy," a speech to the National Security Industrial Association Dinner, 13 September 1977, Washington, D.C.; and Richard Burt, "US Analysis Doubts There Can Be Victor in Major Atomic War," New York Times, January 6, 1978, p. 1.

8. President Jimmy Carter, "Address at Notre Dame University," Presidential Documents, May 22, 1977, in Vital Speeches of the Day, June 15, 1977, pp. 514-17, as reprinted in Department of National Security Affairs (DNSA), Air War College (AWC), Phase II Instruction Circular, AY 1980-81, pp. 317-20.

9. President Jimmy Carter, "Address at Wake Forest University," Presidential Documents, March 24, 1978, pp. 529-38. as reprinted in DNSA, AWC Phase II Instruction Circular, AY 1980-8l, pp. 323-24.

10. President Jimmy Carter, "Address to US Naval Academy, Commencement Exercises, June 7, 1978," Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, June 12, 1978, pp. 1052-57 as reprinted in DNSA, AWC Phase II Instruction Circular, AY l980-8l,pp.330-35.

11. President Jimmy Carter, "Address at Georgia Institute of Technology," February 20, 1979, Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, February 26,1979, pp. 200-06 as reprinted in DNSA, AWC Phase II Instruction Circular, AY 1980-81, pp. 336-41,

12. Afghanistan: 18 Months of Occupation, Department of State,

Bureau of Public Affairs, Special Report No. 86, August 1981; and

Afghanistan: 2 Years of Occupation, Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Special Report No.91, December 1981.

13. From Mr. Carter’s interview on 31 December 1979 with ABC television, as cited in Norman Podhoretz, "The Future Danger," Commentary, April 1981, p, 31.

14. President Jimmy Carter, "State of the Union Message," January 21, 1980, Department of State, Current Policy No. 131 (Washington, D.C.)

15. An excellent political history is Amin Saikal, The Rise and Fall of the Shah (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press), 1980.

16. As cited in Michael A. Ledeen and William H. Lewis, "Carter and the Fall of the Shah: The Inside Story," Washington Quarterly, Spring 1980, p. 14.

17. Ibid., p. 15.

18. William H. Sullivan, Mission to Iran (New York: W.W. Norton, 1981), pp. 147-48.

19. Ledeen and Lewis, pp. 18-19.

20. Sullivan, p. 160.

21. Ledeen and Lewis, pp. 20-23, and Sullivan, pp. 163, 168,

191-93, and 224.

22. Sullivan, pp. 228-30.

23. Ledeen and Lewis, pp. 36-37.

24. Sullivan, pp. 201-04 and 238-40, and Ledeen and Lewis, p.37.

What is freedom? Freedom is the right to choose: the right to create for oneself the alternatives of choice. Without the possibility of choice and the exercise of choice a man is not a man but a member, an instrument, a thing.

How shall freedom be defended? By arms when it is attacked by arms; by truth when it is attacked by lies; by democratic faith when it is attacked by authoritarian dogma. Always, and in the final act, by dedication and faith.

Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982)
A Declaration of Freedom


Lawrence E. Grinter (B.S., University of Florida; M.A., Ph.D., University of North Carolina) is Professor of National Security Affairs, Air Command and Staff College, Air University. His previous assignments include professorships at Air War College and National War College.


The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.

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