Tonight, the three dozen or so Republican contenders for the presidential nomination will come together for their second televised debate. All of them will lambast the Iran deal, will say that the end of the world is near and will fail to mention that Iran already has nuclear power (also thanks to the support of American companies and previous US administrations). They won’t say how the US pulling out of a deal agreed on by six other nations would stop that deal or what they want instead. They won’t notice that the agreement doesn’t deny any of the military options some of them cherish so much.
Except for Ted Cruz, whose hero is Egyptian dictator al-Sisi, the Republican hopefuls will then all say something along the lines of “I would do what Ronald Reagan would do” or “Ronald Reagan never would have signed such a deal”. Which is not only weird, given that it’s 2015 and Reagan has been dead for a while, but which also displays a shocking lack of knowledge of recent history.
Here’s a brief refresher on Ronald Reagan’s policy towards Iran:
The Reagan administration sold weapons to Iran, breaking US laws and an arms embargo. The goal was to secure the release of US hostages (“we don’t negotiate with terrorists”). Hundreds of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles were sold to Iran.
Interestingly, because some Republicans accuse anyone supporting the Iran deal of being soft on Israel’s security, the weapons to Iran were provided via Israel. Earlier in the Iran-Iraq war, Israel had already helped Iran considerably by destroying Iraq’s nuclear reactor in Osirak. (To my big surprise, I discovered on both my trips to Iran that many Iranians actually have fond memories of the cooperation between Iran and Israel, that a number of Iranians have a much more favorable view of Israel than of the Palestinians, and that nothing happened to me when I disclosed – during an interrogation by the Iranian Intelligence Service – that I had been to Israel before.)
Ronald Reagan lied to the American people in a televised speech and had to admit later that he had knowledge of the Iran-Contra dealings. His administration destroyed evidence.
So, could the candidates tonight please specify which part of President Reagan’s Iran policy they want to emulate?