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Iran - Contra Incident


Last Updated: Thursday, 27. May 2004 22:26 -0400

Iran - Contra Incident
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Justin Gilardone
May 2

The Iran Contra Scandal

Why the Iran Contra Scandal happened…

In the 80’s, Iraq and Iran raged a long, brutal war, and some Americans were captured and held hostage in Iran.  The Hostages were released in exchange for antitank and antiaircraft missiles, though the anti aircraft guns were rejected because they were considered too poor of quality.  This happened originally as a trade of one hostage for 508 Tow AT missiles (the ones with cables) and some money.  That was in August of 1985.  In November, the 500 HAWK Anti Aircraft missiles were offered to Iran for the freedom of all American hostages.  The HAWK AA Missiles were returned, though.  The missiles cost over 14 million dollars.  In January of 1986, another 1000 TOW missiles were traded for the other hostages.  The US received 30 million dollars as well.  This is where the conflict arises…

What happened during the Iran Contra Scandal…

            Of the 30 million that America received, only 12 million stayed in America’s hands…  The rest went to the Contra.  Contra were anticommunist guerillas fighting against the “Sandinista” government in Nicaragua.  They received 18 million dollars that were siphoned from the hostage fund…  With this Reagan, a generally very well liked president, did something few presidents did before…  he took international diplomacy into his own hands.  First, he violated the embargo on the warring nation, Iran.  America was trying to starve them out by not trading, and hoped to end the war in that relatively peaceful manner.  In any case, Reagan violated this embargo, and that was understandably a large event.  To further that, not only did he violate the embargo, but he used that money to fund counter-communist terrorism.  This act was strictly forbidden, because the CIA and FBI were under a period of conservative constraint, and weren’t interfering in the rest of the world as much as they had during the 50’s and 60’s (The 70’s too, though that was more the MARINES interfering in a little place called Vietnam). 

The Impact on the Decade…

Reagan was still well liked, even after the scandal, though I doubt it seemed like much of a crime to the public.  Instead, it was more of a way of returning Americans home from their captors.  However, some did grow to dislike Reagan for this…  Reagan had created a new precedent that made presidents closer to dictators than ever before.  The slippery slope theory and gradual fall to communism (perhaps governmental dominos?  If the president becomes more like a dictator, so will the etc.?)  Also, the hostages that were freed were replaced, making Iran a hostage market, somewhat.  This is a very bad thing, because it proves that kidnapping does pay.  Terrorist groups continue to kidnap people… 

Impact on the Future…

Presidents are still more open with their foreign policies.  Canada may have been influenced by this, as their prime minister recently openly declared his feelings for America.  America now has a policy of non-negotiation with terrorists.  It was found that once Iran learned it COULD trade Americans for weapons, it would do it again.  America does not want this to happen with terrorists.  While not a major war that changed American sentiment, or a bloody revolution that changed a government, the Iran Contra scandal still greatly affected the government of the time, and continues to affect future government.