A. Plan of Investigation
This investigation assesses the Reagan Administration and its inconsistent foreign policy in regards to Iran. The Iran-Contra Affair was a controversial crisis for the fortieth president. It involved two parts: the selling of weapons to Iran and then the siphoning of that money to Nicaragua. However, in this investigation, the situation with Iran will be more prominently discussed, rather than the Nicaraguan situation. The foreign policy pertaining to the Middle East will be analyzed for its confusion and complexity. The two sources used in this essay, The Long Road to Baghdad: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy from the 1970s to the Present by Lloyd C. Gardner and The Reagan Diaries by Ronald Reagan and edited by Douglas Brinkley will be evaluated for their origin, value, purpose, and limitations.
B. Summary of Evidence
Beginning with the Iran Hostage Crisis in 1979, in the midst of Jimmy Carter’s second term, our relationship with Iran has been anything but healthy. Iran, at the time of the crisis, was under the radical influence of Ayatollah Khomeini. He had overrun and exiled the previous Shah who the United States had better relations with. After learning of the Shah’s fight with cancer, influential Americans convinced President Carter to permit the Shah to travel to the country to receive prominent medical care. This did not go over well in Iran and Khomeini then called for the students working at the U.S. embassy in Tehran to act on behalf of the country in response. On November 4, these “Iranian extremists” captured fifty-two American hostages.1 Carter attempted negotiations ranging from diplomacy to helicopter invasions, but nothing was accomplished. The relationship between the two countries was already in shambles. Unfortunately, the crisis would cost Carter his presidency to Ronald Reagan. In a political move, perhaps out of spite for Carter, Iran agreed to release the hostages the day after Reagan was inaugurated. The public aftermath of this situation, was that anti-American feelings and anti-Iranian feelings flourished in Iran and the United States, respectively. Reagan then was expected to fix the broken American affiliation with Iran.
In September of 1980, Iraq invaded Iran, in the beginning of the eight year Iran-Iraq war. Iran was paranoid that Iraq’s leaders had “ambitions….in terms of expansion and regional hegemony”. 2 The invasion justified their fears. At first, we “did not have good relations with Iraq, which was had been close to the Soviet Union”.3 Although “not an ally of Iraq”, the United States believed that “Saddam Hussein should not be allowed to be defeated by a radical Islamist, anti-American regime”.4 There was speculation that the U.S. had given the Iraqis “the green light to launch war” against Iran.5 This would have been plausible because if Saddam Hussein, leader of Iraq, could seize oil-rich territory, the U.S. would then have “access to Iranian crude”.6 The United States...