1985: Iran-Contra Affair

In 1983, middle east Shiite terrorist groups took many U.S. citizens hostage, and kept them in Lebanon. The Iran-Contra affair is a scandal that took place in 1985. The head of the NSC, or National Security Council, Robert C. McFarlene sold antitank and antiaircraft missiles to Iran, in an attempt to have the hostages released. Not only was this unacceptable but the money from the transaction was given to the Contras in Nicaragua. The action of McFarlene handing over the transaction money to the Nicaraguan rebels was a violation of the Boland Amendment. The Boland Amendment prohibited financial aid to military rebel activities in Nicaragua. The scandal took place during the Reagan administration and carried into the Bush administration.


The significance of the Iran-Contra Affair is the controversy caused by unlawful actions carried out by members of the United States' own National Security. The fact that the U.S. Government went and undermined it's own policies caused the citizens to question the motives of the countries government. Two years after the scandal took place, special committees of both houses of congress investigated the scandal and televised interviews of the persons involved. One of those questioned was Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North, a decorated Marine designated to the NSC staff during the Reagan administration. North was the U.S. Government's counter-terrorism coordinator. The Lieutenant Colonel defended his actions and claimed that he was carrying out the president's wishes. This created an enormous controversy for the people of the U.S. and provided doubt in whether or not the government could keep to it's word of following their own treaties and amendments.

This video is a clip of the testimony of Oliver North from the televised congressional
investigation of the summer of 1987.

Shiite Terrorist group, headquartered in Lebanon.
Shiite Terrorist group, headquartered in Lebanon.

East vs. West?

Middle East terrorists took many U.S hostages, causing the Iran-Contra Scandal. The use of terrorism is a practice constantly utilized by many eastern nations to acquire the necessities in order to support their cause. In this case the Iran loyalists not only received what they had hoped for (antitank and antiaircraft missiles), but they indirectly caused nationwide chaos for the United States. These scandalous events created national concern for whether or not the country has dependable leaders and councils. Middle eastern countries frequently use terrorism to obtain power and strike fear into many nations, an example being the bombings of 9/11 on the West. The West typically does not use the concept of terrorism to obtain power, but more civil means of establishing their society.

Oliver North
Oliver North Testimony
Shiite Group Image
Woodward, See B. "Iran-contra Affair — Infoplease.com." Infoplease: Encyclopedia, Almanac, Atlas, Biographies, Dictionary, Thesaurus. Free Online Reference, Research & Homework Help. — Infoplease.com. 2000. Web. 31 Mar. 2011. <http:// www.infoplease.com/ce6/history/A0825447.html>.

"Iran-Contra Affair." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2011. Web. 31 Mar. 2011. <http:/www.britannica.com.prxy2.ursus.maine.edu/ EBchecked/topic/293519/Iran-Contra-Affair>.

Danzer, Gerald A. The Americans. Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell, 2000. Print.