|CARTER, OPEC, AND THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION
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
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:
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:
B. GAS LINES AND THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF CARTER’S
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.
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.
B. THE U.S. AND LEADING SCHOLARS FAILED TO TAKE RELIGION INTO
ACCOUNT WHEN FORMULATING MIDDLE EAST POLICY
Copyrighted 5/26/03: AFR All rights reserved