Iran Contra Affair Term Paper

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Iran-Contra Affair think everyone knew we were walking a very thin line."(Owen) Not many Americans know the truth that lies behind the Iran-Contra scandals. Most would be surprised to know about the deception of our leaders. Still today, some truth of Iran-Contra lies hidden in the conscience of the people who organized, aided, and completed the operations. The entire affair is an example of the difficult task of balancing political interests at home with the world political realities that some countries can only be resisted with military force. The world is ultimately ruled by the aggressive use of force. Within our nation, we have chosen to limit aggressive force to the political arena, and the use of ideological negotiation in order to facilitate our country's leadership. However, many countries around the world do not respond to negotiation. While smiling and reaching out to shake right hands at the negotiation table, they will reach for a dagger in their belt with their left hand. Such countries must be dealt with by military forced. In these circumstances, the Indian maxim that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" can make strange bed fellows.

The Iran contra affair started with good intentions, but the opposing interests of internal U.S. policies and world political realities, forced our leaders to make difficult decisions, which ultimately harmed the free flow of the democratic process in the UIS. Some argue that The U.S. must do everything possible to smother the flame of communism. The proof of this reality was that the ultimate fall of communism occurred because the U.S. was willing to raise the costs of the cold war be opposing communist expansionism wherever it festered. But political deception and abuse of power also harms the principles the U.S. defends. Understanding Iran-Contra required knowing the history behind the events.

Draper explains that the Iranian Revolution of 1978-1979 brought the fall of the tyrant Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi and gave rise to Ayatollah Khomeini. Khomeini led the Shiite clerics, whose goal was to establish an Islamic state. In a similar time frame, July 1979, the Nicaraguan Revolution overthrew the dictator Somoza and replaced the dynasty with the Sandinistas. The Sandinistas were a communist regime that sought allegiance with Castro and the Soviet Union. While Khomeini and Sandinista had different views, both had one important thing in common; they came to power by defeating United States' resistance, thus they were regarded with hostility. The Reagan administration viewed the Sandinistas not as nationalists, but as representatives of a communist expansionism. "Lurking in the background of these affairs, then, was the ghost of McCarthyism." (Draper 568). The White House followed the 1950's idea of McCarthyism, and pursued every method short of a full-scale war to overthrow the Sandinista regime.

The United States Central Intelligence Agency armed and trained an anti-Sandinista Guerrilla force based in the neighboring countries of Honduras and Costa Rica called the "Contras." (Corn) These Contras began a series of terrorist raids in Nicaragua. Unfortunately, opposition and protests by European powers soon followed, and congress responded by banning any further U.S. financial or military assistance to the Contras in legislation titled the Boland amendment. ("Iran-Contra Affair).

The Reagan administration knew that if their aid to the Contras stopped, so would the opposition to the communist expansion in the western hemisphere. The Contras could only exist with the financial help of the U.S. Reagan called together a small planning staff to "keep the Contras together, body and soul" regardless of the legislation. Detailed to the NSC from the marines, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North was given the responsibility to establish a secret network to arm the Contras. Dozens of former CIA and retired military personnel were recruited to train the Contras and fly weapons into Central America.

At first, American capitalists supplied much of the financing, but as the operation became more complex, money flowed from American allies who became involved as a "gesture to build goodwill in Washington" (Walsh 47). The aid provided a steadily growing armed conflict. These attacks' purposes were to terrorize the people and destroy the country's economics. The Iranian involvement in the affair started with a series of clashes between the Islamic regime and the U.S., which lead to the capture of the American Embassy and hostages in Teheran. After "a long and bloody stalemate" (Walsh 311), the Reagan administration backed by National Security Advisor McFarlane decided to trade arms for hostages. But, the catch in the plan was that the same NSC operatives - McFarlane, PoinDexter, and Lt. Col. Oliver North - had the responsibilities of both the Iran dealings and the ongoing shipment to the Contras. They decided to overcharge the Iranians in order to provide funds to the Contras.

The arms deal was soon found out and it was made the center of media attention. Ignoring this warning, McFarlane and North traveled to Teheran personally to deliver missiles and talk to Iranian officials. The web of lies in Iran-Contra kept getting deeper and deeper, and Reagan and his administration refused to give up their fight, but, they knew would never be able to keep such an intricate web from being exposed. They had operated in direct violation of the Boland amendment, which prohibited aid to Nicaraguan rightists. As word leaked out about North's role in the operation, North and others lied under oath, adding perjury and obstruction of justice to their other crimes. In Firewall, Walsh explains to us the exposure of Iran-Contra that came in the fall of 1986. In early October, Sandinista air defense troops shoot down the C-130 used in supplying the Contras. Former CIA operative Eugene Hasenfus, a cargo handler on-board, was captured and paraded before television cameras. Three weeks later, a Lebanese newspaper reported the visit of North and McFarlane to Teheran. This was not only exposure to Iran-Contra, but it also showed the Reagan Administration breaking the policy of never negotiating with terrorists and kidnappers.

The Reagan administration decided to cover-up Iran-Contra. Attorney General Edwin Meese went on television to announce that he uncovered the diversion of the funds from the arms sales. Oliver North was fired, and Poindexter was forced to resign. "The focus of the diversion of funds was an exercise in misdirection: a 'diversion' in more than one sense." (Walsh 369) The emphasis of Oliver North's transfer of a few million dollars from one secret operation diverted the attention from the far more important side of Iran-Contra: the use of the funds to arm Contra forces that created a bloodbath in Nicaragua. Not only was this a diversion from the important side of Iran-Contra, but it also placed the blame on North and Poindexter instead of the whole group of those were involved.

Investigations were launched focusing on the diversion of funds. Reagan and his administration clamed they knew nothing, and were found blameless. After questioning and flattering media coverage, North was almost proclaimed a hero. (Fritz) Then, Democrat Jack Brooks of Texas sought to question North about his role in the contingency planning for the roundup of hundreds of thousands of Central American immigrants. Chairman Inouye intervened and cut off the discussion saying such issues should be discussed in a secret session. The committee gave North and Poindexter limited immunity in return for their testimony. (Kemper) The investigation by a special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh was sabotaged and ultimately shut down by the combined action of Congress, the courts and the Bush administration. The case went to the Supreme Court who ruled that Walsh had to prove that neither the prosecutors nor any of the witnesses had been influenced by this testimony which had been broadcast on national television. North and Poindexter were convicted of lying to Congress, but their convictions were later overturned. Walsh then obtained convictions of a handful of CIA…[continue]

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