South Asia Center Nonresident Senior Fellow Barbara Slavin writes for Al-Monitor on a new book about the Iran-Contra scandal:
The scandal that became known as Iran-Contra is a distant memory for most Americans and Iranians. But an important new book provides fascinating details about US ignorance about Iran, which contributed to the largely botched effort to free US hostages in Lebanon and hindered a possible breakthrough in US-Iran ties 30 years ago.
Benefiting from recent access to the private papers of key US participants, including former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, then-Vice President George H.W. Bush and White House chief of staff Don Regan, author Malcolm Byrne shows conclusively that all the top members of the Ronald Reagan administration — including the president — knew that they were violating US law by selling weapons to a country topping the US list of terrorist-supporting states. Trying to dress up executive branch overreach in attractive strategic clothing, key figures in the administration — egged on by duplicitous arms dealers and Israeli leaders — sought to portray their actions as boosting “moderates” in Iran supposedly opposed to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.