RIP the Carter Doctrine, 1980-2019

Donald Trump has torn up a foundation of U.S. foreign policy and is causing irreparable damage to the Middle East—and world order—in the process.

By most measures Jimmy Carter's presidency was a lackluster one. Americans were experiencing malaise at home and a string of apparent defeats abroad, highlighted by the Iranian hostage crisis and the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. Yet it was these twin crises that produced the Carter Doctrine, which has served the United States and its allies well ever since. The Carter Doctrine explicitly committed the United States to defend the oil fields of the Persian Gulf against external threats. Carter's successor, U.S. President Ronald Reagan, built on this strategy with what should be seen as a “Reagan Corollary,” which committed Washington to defending the free export of Gulf oil against threats from within the Middle East as well. Since then, both Republican and Democratic administrations have recognized that the United States' role in protecting Gulf oil exports constitutes a critical component of the international order the United States built after 1945—an order that has made America stronger, more secure, and more prosperous than it otherwise would have been.

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