Read America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History Online

Authors: Andrew J. Bacevich

Tags: #General, #Military, #World, #Middle Eastern, #United States, #Middle East, #History, #Political Science

America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History (63 page)

James R. Schlesinger,
Annual Defense Department Report, FY 1975
(March 4, 1974), 1, 13–14, 86.

Donald H. Rumsfeld,
Annual Defense Department Report, FY 1978
(January 17, 1977), 13, 42, 245.

Tucker, “Oil,” 21.

Although not killed in action, a handful of Americans were murdered while posted in the Greater Middle East. In 1975, for example, assassins killed two U.S. Air Force officers who were serving in Iran. Eric Pace, “Iranian Terrorists Slay Two U.S. Colonels,”
The New York Times
(May 22, 1975).

Jimmy Carter, “University of Notre Dame—Address at Commencement Exercises” (May 22, 1977).

An April 1974 assessment of U.S.-Iranian relations, prepared by an interagency task force, confidently asserted the following: “Iran is the most powerful, politically most stable, and economically most developed state on the Persian Gulf. It shares with us an interest in promoting moderate elements in the area and in limiting the influence of the Soviet Union and radical forces. Prospects are good for Iran’s long-term stability and a continuation of its present international orientation, even if its present leadership leaves the scene.” “Paper Prepared by an Interdepartmental Working Group” (April 25, 1974), Document 59,
Foreign Relations of the United States, 1969–1976
, vol. 27
, Iran; Iraq, 1973–1976

Jimmy Carter, “Toasts of the President and the Shah at a State Dinner” (December 31, 1977).

Bernard Gwertzman, “It Was Like Coming Home Again,”
The New York Times
(July 29, 1973).

The Soviet Union was also selling quantities of arms in the Persian Gulf, notably to Iraq, Iran’s traditional rival. U.S. policymakers such as Secretary of State William P. Rogers described Soviet arms exports as “an invitation to trouble,” whereas U.S. weapons exports were “a stabilizing influence for peace.” Juan de Onis, “Rogers Terms U.S. Arms Sales to Persian Gulf ‘Stabilizing,’ ”
The New York Times
(June 11, 1973).

Faisal bin Salman al-Saud,
Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf: Power Politics in Transition
(London, 2004), 73–77. The Iranian Revolution resulted in the cancellation of some purchases prior to delivery, to include the destroyers.

Abbas Milani, “The Shah’s Atomic Dreams,”
Foreign Policy
(December 29, 2010).

Michael Klare, “America’s White Collar Mercenaries,”
(October 16, 1978), 14–19.

Michael C. Jensen, “Retired Generals Employed by Northrop in Various Jobs,”
The New York Times
(June 26, 1975).

Richard J. Levine, “Oil States’ Demand Keeps U.S. Arms Sales at Record Pace as Congress Grows Critical,”
The Wall Street Journal
(February 18, 1975); Richard D. Lyons, “U.S. Arms-Sale Rise Stirs Capital Concern,”
The New York Times
(October 19, 1975).

Leslie H. Gelb, “Study Finds Iran Dependent on U.S. in Using Weapons,”
The New York Times
(August 2, 1976).

Bernard Gwertzman, “Shah Cautions U.S. Against Arms Cut,”
The New York Times
(August 7, 1976).

Department of State Bulletin
(September 4, 1972), 243. Sisco was then assistant secretary for Near East and South Asian affairs. On August 8, 1972, he had testified before the House Subcommittee on the Near East.

At the time, the Yemen Arab Republic and the People’s Republic of South Yemen were separate countries.

OASD (PA & E), “Capabilities for Limited Contingencies in the Persian Gulf” (June 15, 1979). At the time, Wolfowitz was serving as deputy assistant secretary of defense for regional programs.

Albert Wohlstetter, “The Uses of Irrelevance,”
The New York Times
(February 25, 1979).

Albert Wohlstetter, “ ‘Lesser’ Excluded Cases,”
The New York Times
(February 14, 1979).

Fully appreciating the sweep and ambition of Carter’s speech requires a careful reading of the entire text. Understanding why it fell short should entail actually viewing the president’s delivery. Fortunately, video of the speech is readily available online, for example, at
, accessed September 5, 2014.

Hendrik Hertzberg, “Foreword to the Paperback Edition,” in Kevin Mattson,
What the Heck Are You Up To, Mr. President?
(New York, 2010), xvi.

“Generally Good Marks for Carter on Speech,”
The New York Times
(July 17, 1979); Keith Richburg, “Carter’s Rating Rose Nine Percent After Speech,”
The Washington Post
(July 17, 1979).

Jimmy Carter,
White House Diary
(New York, 2010), 344.

Roger Ricklefs, “…And a Misreading of the Nation’s ‘Soul,’ ”
The Wall Street Journal
(July 17, 1979).

“Reagan and Bush Blame Carter for His Own Woes,”
Los Angeles Times
(July 17, 1979).

Irving Kristol, “Blame It on the People!”
The Wall Street Journal
(July 17, 1979).

George F. Will, “The President Says Too Much That’s Bad About America,”
Los Angeles Times
(July 19, 1979).

In a 1992 episode of
The Simpsons,
the townspeople of Springfield erect a statue in Carter’s honor. The pedestal reads “Malaise Forever.”

Seth G. Jones,
In the Graveyard of Empires
(New York, 2009), 20.

Robert M. Gates,
From the Shadows
(New York, 1996), 145. Gates attended the meeting. The official he quotes was Walter Slocombe.

Zbigniew Brzezinski,
Power and Principle: Memoirs of the National Security Adviser, 1977–1981
(New York, 1983), 356, 428.

“Brzezinski Interview with
La Nouvelle Observateur
” (January 15, 1988),
, accessed September 12, 2014.

Power and Principle,

Mark Bowden, “Among the Hostage Takers,”
The Atlantic
(December 2004).

On November 20, radical Islamists had seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Rumors that the United States was implicated in this incident triggered the embassy attacks. Although the United States was not involved, the occupation of the Grand Mosque, lasting over two weeks and costing several hundred lives, reinforced the impression in Washington that the Greater Middle East was coming apart, with forceful U.S. action the only plausible antidote.

George Ball, “Reflections on a Heavy Year,”
Foreign Affairs
(January 1981).

Rosalynn Carter,
First Lady from Plains
(New York, 1984), 295.

Maxwell Orme Johnson, “Military Force and American Foreign Policy in Southwest Asia, 1979–1982: A Study of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force” (unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Virginia, 1982), 25.

Johnson, “Military Force and American Foreign Policy,” 26.

Contemporaneous Soviet documents make this abundantly clear. See “Afghanistan: Lessons from the Last War,” a compendium of documents made available by the National Security Archive,
, accessed September 19, 2014. For an overview, see Artemy Kalinovsky, “Decision-Making and the Soviet War in Afghanistan,”
Journal of Cold War Studies
(Fall 2009), 48–51.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, Memorandum for the President, Subject: Reflections on Soviet Intervention in Afghanistan (December 26, 1979),
, accessed September 22, 2014. In this memo, Brzezinski expressed expectations of the Soviet intervention succeeding. “The Soviets are likely to act decisively,” he wrote, “unlike the U.S. in Vietnam, which pursued a policy of ‘inoculating’ the enemy.”

Power and Principle,
356, 427.

Meet the Press
(January 20, 1980),
, accessed September 30, 2014. President Carter was the television program’s sole guest on that date.

Theodore L. Eliot, “Afghanistan: Fact and Fiction,”
The Wall Street Journal
(January 9, 1980). At that time serving as dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Eliot insisted that it was “patently ridiculous to believe that the motive for the Soviet invasion” stemmed from any concern about Islamist opposition.

Kenneth H. Bacon, “Carter’s Shattered Foreign Policy,”
The Wall Street Journal
(January 8, 1980).

Jimmy Carter, “State of the Union Address” (January 23, 1980).

Power and Principle,

Power and Principle,

I. F. Stone, “Reaping Invasion’s Rewards,”
The New York Times
(February 29, 1980).

Hermann F. Eilts, “Security Considerations in the Persian Gulf,”
International Security
(Fall 1980), 88–89.

Joseph Kraft, “In the Wake of Afghanistan,”
The Washington Post
(March 27, 1980).

Robert Moss, “Reaching for Oil: The Soviets’ Bold Middle East Strategy,”
Saturday Review
(April 12, 1980), 14–15.

Richard Pipes, “Soviet Global Strategy,”
(April 1980), 37. The other half of the pincer was through Scandinavia, where, according to Pipes, the Soviets were putting the squeeze on Finland and Sweden.

William Beecher, “Carter’s Test,”
The Boston Globe
(February 24, 1980).

Quoted in Peter C. Stuart, “Soviets on the Move,”
The Christian Science Monitor
(February 11, 1980).

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