Lessons From America's War for the Greater Middle East // News // Notre Dame Magazine // University of Notre Dame: Since 1980, back when President Jimmy Carter promulgated the Carter Doctrine, the United States has been engaged in what we should rightfully call America’s War for the Greater Middle East. The premise underlying that war can be simply stated: with disorder, dysfunction and disarray in the Islamic world posing a growing threat to vital U.S. national security interests, the adroit application of hard power would enable the United States to check those tendencies and thereby preserve the American way of life.
Choose whatever term you like: police, pacify, shape, control, dominate, transform. In 1980, President Carter launched the United States on a project aimed at nothing less than determining the fate and future of the peoples inhabiting the arc of nations from the Maghreb and the Arabian Peninsula to the Persian Gulf and Central Asia.
Since the end of World War II, American soldiers had fought and died in Asia. Even when the wars in Korea and Vietnam ended, U.S. troop contingents continued to garrison the region. In Europe, a major U.S. military presence dating from the start of the Cold War signaled Washington’s willingness to fight there as well. Prior to Carter’s watershed 1980 statement, no comparable U.S. commitment toward the Islamic world existed. Now that was going to change.