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The Reagan EraA History of the 1980s$
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Doug Rossinow

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231169882

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231169882.001.0001

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Arms and the Man

Arms and the Man

(p.181) Ten Arms and the Man
The Reagan Era

Doug Rossinow

Columbia University Press

This chapter describes the events surrounding what became known, starting in late 1986, as the Iran-Contra scandal. National Security Council (NSC) staffer Oliver North was at the center of the scandal, being the point man both in Reagan’s policy of offering arms, sold to Iran, to gain the release of American hostages taken captive in Lebanon, and in the president’s underground effort to sustain the Nicaraguan Contras during the period of the second Boland Amendment. North overcharged the Iranians for weapons and gave some of the proceeds to the Contras, thus linking the two initiatives. The NSC had no business, by law or custom, to instigate or run operations abroad, in the name of the U.S. government or otherwise. That is, however, exactly what North and others did, with Reagan’s knowledge and encouragement. In the eyes of the American public, the effort to trade arms for hostages—by selling weapons to a government labeled a terrorist state by the United States—was the worst element in the scandal.

Keywords:   Nicaragua, Nicaraguan Contras, Iran-Contra scandal, Oliver North, arms deal, hostages

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