Carter, opec, and the iranian revolution



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CARTER, OPEC, AND THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION

UNIT 14B
Background:

The 1970’s was a difficult time for U.S. foreign policy. America had lost the preponderance of power it had enjoyed since WWII and seemed to be in decline. Communism had breached the wall of containment and had taken Vietnam. The American political defeat in Vietnam badly damaged America’s international standing and had weakened the national resolve at home. The U.S. share of world economic

production had dropped by half. Adding to America’s woes was our increasing dependency on OPEC oil.


I. OPEC’S IMPERIUM, 1973-1979

A. OPEC’S TWO-FOLD VISION

1. ______________________________________________________________________

2. ______________________________________________________________________

B. OPEC’S THREE-FOLD IMPACT ON THE WORLD ECONOMY:

1. Exporting countries went from surpluses to deficits.

2. For the developed countries of the industrial West, the “tax” of dramatically

higher oil prices sent their economies into deep recession.
The U.S.: ___________________________________________________________

3. The group that suffered the most was the developing countries that had no oil.


C. THE SAUDIS VERSES THE SHAH
1. The Shah’s ambition: ____________________________________________________

2. The Saudi’s, however, were much more conservative. Their concerns:

a. ____________________________________________________________________

b. ____________________________________________________________________

c. ____________________________________________________________________

d. ____________________________________________________________________

e. ____________________________________________________________________

D. U.S. STRATEGY CONCERNING OIL PRICES & IRAN

1. The U.S. through Nixon, Ford, and Carter consistently opposed higher prices because

of the damage that such increases would do to the world economy.
2. But Washington did not want to be too aggressive in bringing prices down: Kissinger

explained why in 1975: “the only chance to bring oil prices down immediately would

be massive political warfare against countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran to make them

risk their political stability and maybe their security if they did not cooperate. That is

too high a price to pay, even for an immediate reduction in oil prices. If you bring

about an overthrow of an existing system in Saudi Arabia and a Quaddafi takes over,

or if you break Iran’s image of being capable of resisting outside pressures, you’re

going to open up political trends that could defeat your economic objectives.” [Yergin]


3. Washington’s central objective: ____________________________________________
4. Nixon, Ford, and Kissinger were reluctant to push too hard on the Shah given broader

U.S. strategic considerations :


a. At the beginning of the 1970’s Nixon and Kissinger had established the “blank

check” policy: _______________________________________________________
b. The policy was part of the “Twin Pillars” strategy whereby ___________________

____________________________________________________________________

The Nixon and Ford administrations believed that Iran was an essential ally with a

major security role in the ME, and nothing should be done to undercut the Shah’s

prestige and influence.

II. THE FALL OF THE “GREAT PILLAR”: THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION



A. IRANIANS WERE LOOSING PATIENCE WITH THE SHAH’S REGIME

AND THE RUSH TO MODERNIZE
1. The major beneficiary of this growing resistance was the Ayatollah Khomeini.

2. U.S. prognosis regarding the Shah: _________________________________________


B. THE TURNING POINT, AUGUST 1978

C. THE SHAH’S FALL

III. CARTER RESPONDS TO THE OIL CRISIS & THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION, 1979



A. THE REVOLTION SPARKED THE SECOND GREAT OIL CRISIS

1. This crisis would mean __________________________________________________

2. Two distinguishing features of the Iranian revolution:
a. ____________________________________________________________________

b. ____________________________________________________________________



B. GAS LINES AND THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF CARTER’S


PRESIDENCY
1. The significance of the Three Mile Island accident: ____________________________

______________________________________________________________________

2. Gas lines and rising inflation marked the beginning of the end of the Carter Presidency.

C. THE SEIZURE OF THE AMERICAN EMBASSY IN TEHREN

1. Immediate background: __________________________________________________



______________________________________________________________________

2. The hostage crisis transmitted a powerful message: that the sift of power in the world

oil market in the 1970’s was only part of a larger drama that was taking place in global

politics, namely that the U.S. & the West appeared to be in decline and on the

defensive and unable to protect their interests. As Carter succinctly summed matters

up two days after the hostage seizure, “They have us by the balls.”


3. The Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan and its significance: _________________

______________________________________________________________________


D. CARTER’S RESPONSE TO THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION AND SOVIET

INVASION OF AFGHANISTAN


1. Carter issued the “CARTER DOCTRINE”: “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 Doctrine made more explicit what American presidents had been saying as

far back as Harry Truman’s pledge to Ibn Saud in 1950.


2. Carter then placed an embargo on the importing of Iranian oil into the U.S. and by

freezing Iranian assets. The latter hurt Iran; the former did not.


3. In April 1980, Carter mounted an abortive rescue operation in Iran.
4. The failed rescue operation, the deepening recession, and Carter’s apparent inability to

lead set the stage for his overwhelming defeat that fall by Ronald Reagan.



IV. ANALYSIS




A. THE LOSS OF IRAN ELEVATED THE STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE OF SA


B. THE U.S. AND LEADING SCHOLARS FAILED TO TAKE RELIGION INTO

ACCOUNT WHEN FORMULATING MIDDLE EAST POLICY
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