Dangers on the Edge of the Map: Geographic Mental Maps and the Emergence of the Carter Doctrine

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The Carter Doctrine enunciated in President Jimmy Carter’s 1980 State of the Union Address effectively coupled the security of the Persian Gulf region with American global security (Yetiv, 1990). While the region had always been important in US strategic considerations, it was the Carter administration that ultimately gave the Middle East its pivotal role in US foreign policy. In other words, the US transformed the Middle East, particularly the Persian Gulf, into a new “critical defense zone” by communicating to the Soviets “clearly and in advance, exactly which parts of the planet they deem indispensable to their own security and, hence, which expansive political or military changes initi-ated by or enuring to the benefit of an adversary will be unacceptable and likely to lead to war” (Reisman, 1982: 589). By attempting to articulate the purpose of American foreign policy, the Carter Doctrine represented a momentous shift in US geopolitical and geostrategic considerations, placing the Persian Gulf region as the second priority for resource allocation after Europe (Blidall, 2011; da Vinha, 2017; Kupchan, 1987; Michaels, 2011; Njølstad, 2004; Odom, 2006; Rosati, 1991)...
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGeopolitics and International Relations
Subtitle of host publicationGrounding World Politics Anew
EditorsCriekemans David
Place of PublicationLeiden
PublisherBRILL Nijhoff
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9789004432086
ISBN (Print)9789004432079
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Mental Maps
  • Geopolitics
  • Foreign policy analysis
  • foreign policy
  • Geographic mental maps
  • international relations (IR)
  • Political Geography
  • American Foreign Policy


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