Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Waiting for the Barbarians

The problem with history is that it is a little inconvenient. Juan Cole reports:

"I just saw this campaign ad for Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign. He says that Iran held US embassy hostages for 444 days. Then they were released within one hour. That was the hour after Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as president, succeeding Jimmy Carter. Giuliani goes on to tell us that this incident shows how you deal with "Islamic terrorists." You get tough on them and don't back down.

The problem with this assertion is that it is not true, and indeed the opposite is true. Gary Sick showed in October Surprise that:

' Piercing the shadowy netherworld of international espionage, Sick has written one of the most controversial and disturbing accounts of political intrigue to appear in recent years. In 1980, William Casey, then campaign manager of the Reagan-Bush ticket, without the knowledge or approval of the legitimate government, arranged a deal with the Iranian government that in return for military equipment, the Iranians would not release the 52 American hostages until Ronald Reagan was safely inaugurated. '

So the hostages weren't released because Reagan was tough on the Iranian regime. They were released because Casey promised that the Republicans would sell Khomeini weapons if they kept the hostages for an extra couple of months and denied Jimmy Carter the sort of diplomatic coup that might have rescued his presidency.

Not only was Reagan not in fact 'tough' on the ayatollahs in Tehran, he later on stole Pentagon weaponry from the warehouses, illegally sold this US military materiel to a terrorist regime (that of Khomeini), then pocketed the money from the illegal arms sales to 'Islamic terrorists' and laundered it through shadowy bank accounts, sending it to far rightwing death squads in Nicaragua.

Besides, they aren't "Islamic" terrorists because Islam forbids terrorism. They might be Muslim terrorists, but then not very good Muslims. When will Giuliani denounce the "Catholic terrorism" of some prominent priests who were active in the Irish Republican Army? Would he talk about "Jewish terrorism" in regard to the blowing up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem?

As for Iran-contra, I feel a golden oldie coming on:

And, Shultz told both Rumsfeld and Saddam that the US was trying to curb weapons flows to Iran. Yet it is well known that Israel was supplying Iran with weaponry in return for Iranian oil. Only a little over a year later, Shultz double-crossed Saddam by getting on board with the Iran-Contra weapons exchange, which was suggested by the Israelis in the first place. The White House illegally sold Iran hundreds of powerful TOW anti-tank and HAWK anti-aircraft weapons [which Reagan came on television and told us were shoulder-launched weapons!], for use against Washington's newfound ally, the Iraqis, who were being assured that the US was trying hard to "prevent an Iranian victory . . ."

These weapons sales contravened US law, under which Iran was tagged as a terrorist nation. (Even today I can get into trouble for so much as editing a paper by an Iranian scholar for publication in a US scholarly journal, but it was all right for the Republicans and Neocons to send Khomeini 1000 TOWs!) Not only that, but Reagan's team then turned around and used the money garnered from these off-the-books sales to support the contra death squads in Nicaragua. In the US Constitution, how to spend government money is the purview of Congress, and Congress had told Reagan "no" on funding the death squads. So Reagan's people essentially stole weapons from the Pentagon storehouses, shipped them to Israel for transfer to Ayatollah Khomeini, and then took the ill gotten gains from fencing the stolen goods and gave them to nun-murderers in Latin America." (Juan Cole, "Giulian, Reagan, and Kissing up to Ayatollahs with Fancy Cakes," Informed Comment, 12/11/2007).


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