Iran-Contra Scandal Essay

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The Iran-contra scandal of the 1980’s, first brought to light in November 1986, is a complicated mess of scandal, arms dealings, hostage deals, and illegal acts (“Iran-Contra Affair” Infoplease.com). The original purpose of the arms sales was to improve United States-Iran relations (Sanders SNU.edu). However, when American hostages were taken throughout the 1980’s, members of President Reagan’s staff negotiated implicit deals with Iranian groups, which resulted in the U.S. selling arms in return for the release of hostages (Wolf PBS.org). Later, the deal was modified so that the U.S. sold arms directly to Iran at a high markup, with no guarantee of hostages being released, and the markup funding the contras in Nicaragua (“The Iran-Contra …show more content…
in 1985 that the U.S. might sell arms to Iran through Israel with the goal of releasing American hostages held in Lebanon by Iranian groups (“The Iran-Contra Report” Presidency.UCSB.edu). The arms would be used to aid Iran in their ongoing war against Iraq (“The Iran-Contra Report” Presidency.UCSB.edu). Robert McFarlane, a national security advisor who brought the suggestion to President Reagan, believed that the deal would improve U.S.-Iran relations, in addition to Lebanese relations, thus giving the U.S. needed influence in the Middle East (Wolf PBS.org). However, several advisors to Reagan questioned the legality of such an act, as both U.S. policy, prohibiting straight arms-for-hostage swaps, and the embargo on arms to Iran, the Arms Export Control Act, condemned that course of action. (“The Iran-Contra Report” Presidency.UCSB.edu). Though his advisors Caspar Weinberger (Secretary of Defense) and George Shultz (Secretary of State) opposed the sales, President Reagan listened to McFarlane (National Security Advisor) and William Casey (CIA director) and went through with the plan, but Reagan never actually signed the plan or reported it to Congress, as required by law (“The Iran-Contra Report” Presidency.UCSB.edu). Thus, Reagan could later claim that he had no knowledge of the arms sales, as it was never formalized. Control of this operation was given to the National Security Council, which was also conducting aid operations to the contras (“The Iran-Contra…