Iran Contra Scandal
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The Cold War peaked the interest of the entire globe. Each threat, policy and action that took place had ramifications far more reaching then ever imaginable. The world sat on edge because it feared its own destruction, after the introduction of nuclear warfare at the close of World War II, another World War could result in the Earths demise. This fear ran through the hearts and minds of citizens of both the United States and the Soviet Union, but it is the citizens elsewhere that had to pay the consequences for these fears. The “race” to become the premier superpower of the world between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. did not always remain as subsided as many like to believe. Many regions of the world were held accountable for fighting the ideological warfare that was to separate the two world powers. One region that has always been very active with warfare since the beginning of time is the Middle East. Fighting has remained one standard of living that many countries in the Middle East have come to live, and die with. When the ideological war came to the Middle East, the primary target became Iran. Iran held the largest wealth in the region at the time because of its proceeds from the sale of oil and the United States feared that the neighboring communist would attempt to take over Iran and then have additional funding and support.
One of the most pivotal moments at the end of the Cold War was the Iran-contra Affair. “The Iran-contra policies centered on two regions of the World which cast shadows of doubt on the public mind, and were difficult for the government to portray in positive terms; Central America and the Middle East. Central America conjured up images of another Vietnam, of the United State being slowly sucked into an anti-communist third-world guerilla conflict for few tangible gains. Iranian ventures revived memories of other foreign policy nightmares, most obviously the Iranian hostage crises of 1979-1980, which had highlighted the potential impotence of American power in the Middle East.” Now the United States was attempting to get hostages back from Iran by selling them arms and then turned around and gave the profits to the contra rebels in Nicaragua for the rebellion against the Sandinistas government. This illegal, and therefore, secret operation was not only a failure, but it also brought relations between the Americans and Iranians to a crumbling halt. This paper will examine all aspects of the Iran-contra Affair by defining the history between the Iranians and the United States, then the Nicaraguans and the United States, and finally discussing the cover-up scandal, and impact the affair had on the United States and globally.
To understand the Iran-contra Affair it is necessary to understand American-Iranian relations leading up to the scandal. Since the origin of both major powers, Iran had managed to “to maintain its independence as a nation-state by playing the two superpowers against one another.” And it was when the two rivals came to an understanding that, “Iranian leaders saw their countrys independence and identity in serious jeopardy.” The turning point in the relationship between the Iran and the United States began “after [the United States] part in the overthrow of Muhammad Musadiq in 1953, the United States found itself the object of growing Iranian criticism.” Moderate, nationalistic opposition forces and radical leftist began to refer to the United States as an “imperialistic, oppressive external force,” all as Shii religious leaders begun condemning America and their policies. “Iranians of all political persuasions increasingly formed a negative image of the United States.” America exposed itself as no longer an external liberating force that was held responsible for protecting Iran from Great Britain and the Soviet Union, and instead, became the exploiter.
“Throughout the 1970s the United States increased its influence in
Iranand entwined itself more and more with the governing regime
in Iran. By the time of the Iranian revolution in 1978, Americas
reservoir of historical goodwill had been drained dry. The violent,
antimonarchical revolution had a sharp anti-American edge that became
sharper in reaction to policies developed in Washington in response to
In Iranian perspective, the United States decided to support and save the Shah, and this was their ultimate downfall in the relationship. As a result of the shahs support the first hostage crisis took place. When over fifty hostages were taken from the American embassy and held for almost fifteen months causing “the two countries engaged in practically every form of conflict short of all-out war.” Irans newly formed Islamic Republic by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was dropped from all diplomatic relations and had all trade embargoed by the United States because of its embassy staff being held hostage. After the hostages were released, the U.S. kept all arms shipment from being sent. “In the meantime, Iraq had opened war on Iran. The United States remained neutral and refused to ship arms to either side.” The United States went a step further in 1984, designating Iran a “sponsor of international terrorism” and urged all allies to not ship arms there. “Beginning in March 1984, members of Hezbollah, a fundamentalist Shiite group sympathetic to the government of the Ayatollah Khomeini, kidnapped seven Americans in Beirut, Lebanon.”
Manucher Ghorbanifar, previously denounced by the CIA, was now relied on by NSC aides because of the capturing of William Buckley, CIA station chief, and the subsequent disappearing or hiding of many other CIA agents. Ghorbanifar believed by selling arms to Iran their influence on the Lebanese Shiite group would result in the hostage release. There were several other reasons why the Americans did take this course of action. “First, there was the urgent need to rescue CIA agent Buckley. (captured March 14, 1984) Secondly, American influence in Iran would help to counter possible Soviet intervention in the region, and thirdly, there was the appeal of solving a long-term geo-political problem via novel and cavalier means.” The sale of missiles to Iran figured to be the best means to achieve the exchange for hostages. The selling