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Sarah Palin Gets Ironic on Iran

December 24, 2010

If nothing else, Sarah Palin is an irony producing machine. Just last week, the propagator-in-chief of the 2009 death panels "Lie of the Year" endorsed Medicare rationing. Now, the ironies are double in her new get-tough-on-Iran op-ed. After all, she not only cites leaked diplomatic cables published by the "treasonous" Australian, Julian Assange. Worse still, Palin points to Ronald Reagan as her model for dealing with Tehran. That would be the same Ronald Reagan whose policy consisted of giving the mullahs in Iran a cake, a Bible - and U.S. arms.
The latest installment of Sarah Palin's extremist makeover into an ersatz policy wonk appeared in USA Today - and on her Facebook page. Regurgitating the usual tough talk of right-wing hardliners, Palin concluded:

Just as Ronald Reagan once denounced an "evil empire" and looked forward to a time when communism was left on the "ash heap of history," we should look forward to a future where the twisted ideology and aggressive will to dominate of Khomeini and his successors are consigned to history's dustbin.

Sadly, history also shows that Ronald Reagan swapped arms for hostages with Ayatollah Khomeini.
The Iran-Contra scandal, as you'll recall, almost laid waste to the Reagan presidency. Desperate to free U.S. hostages held by Iranian proxies in Lebanon, President Reagan provided weapons Tehran badly needed in its long war with Saddam Hussein (who, of course, was backed by the United States). In a clumsy and illegal attempt to skirt U.S. law, the proceeds of those sales were then funneled to the contras fighting the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. And as the New York Times recalled, Reagan's fiasco started with an emissary bearing gifts from the Gipper himself:

A retired Central Intelligence Agency official has confirmed to the Senate Intelligence Committee that on the secret mission to Teheran last May, Robert C. McFarlane and his party carried a Bible with a handwritten verse from President Reagan for Iranian leaders.
According to a person who has read the committee's draft report, the retired C.I.A. official, George W. Cave, an Iran expert who was part of the mission, said the group had 10 falsified passports, believed to be Irish, and a key-shaped cake to symbolize the anticipated ''opening'' to Iran.

The rest, as they say, is history. After the revelations regarding his trip to Tehran and the Iran-Contra scheme, a disgraced McFarlane attempted suicide. After his initial denials, President Reagan was forced to address the nation on March 4, 1987 and acknowledge he indeed swapped arms for hostages (video here):

"A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not. As the Tower board reported, what began as a strategic opening to Iran deteriorated, in its implementation, into trading arms for hostages."

(For more background, read the Reagan diaries, starting with the part in which he admits in 1986, "I agreed to sell TOWs to Iran.")
Of course, the sad saga didn't end there. Then Lt. Colonel and now Fox News commentator Oliver North saw his Iran-Contra conviction overturned by an appellate court led by faithful Republican partisan and later Iraq WMD commissioner Laurence Silberman. And in December 1992, outgoing President George H.W. Bush offered Christmas pardons to Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and five other Iran-Contra scandal figures. Among them were Elliot Abrams and John Poindexter, men who eight years later reprised their roles in the administration of George W. Bush. Meanwhile, Michael Ledeen is reprising his own nefarious role in Iran/Contra by brokering meetings between Israeli arms middleman Manucher Ghorbanifar (the same man the CIA deemed a "fabricator" during Iran/Contra) and the terrorist Mujahedeen Khalq).
As for Sarah Palin, the woman who Ledeen during the 2008 election insisted was "the most qualified and by far the most exciting candidate of the four," she stands with the "the brave people of Iran [who] take to the streets in defiance of their unelected dictatorship." The man she believes was elected is Mir-Hossain Mousavi. That would be the same Mir-Hossain Mousavi who was Prime Minister of Iran during the time of the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut - and Ronald Reagan's Iran/Contra fiasco.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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