Paris, 1968. Teheran, 1980. Tel Aviv, 2012?
The person calling himself “Mobutu Sese Seko”, but who most manifestly is not the late Congolese dictator, is in my opinion one of Gawker’s better and more perceptive writers, and he just hit another home run, in the course of discussing Mitt Romney’s all-too-likely illegal foreign policy collusions with his best bud Bibi Netanyahu. While delineating that misdeed, he then cites two others committed by Republican presidential candidates:
… In 1968, with the expectation of a plum position in the Nixon administration, Henry Kissinger persuaded the south Vietnamese to spike the Paris peace talks with unreasonable demands, promising a better deal under a GOP administration. About a half decade and 20,000 dead Americans later, Kissinger brokered an accord like the one he’d scuppered illegally. But it had already served its purpose: Kissinger destroyed Hubert Humphrey’s peace strategy and a huge 1968 campaign plank. Lyndon Johnson refused to publicly condemn Nixon and Kissinger for doing something incredibly fucking illegal (under the Logan Act), lest he be seen to use the office of the president to aggressively campaign for a successor or divulge the shady means with which his evidence had been gathered.
And if that example feels too quaintly historical or insufficiently Middle Easty, there are always the more recent depredations against truth and policy, like announcing Mission Accomplished 40 days after a war’s commencement and eight-and-half years before its end—but only one year before an election.
He left out another infamous electorally-inspired meddling — to wit, Reagan’s October Surprise from 1980:
To the shock of the [1992 Congressional] task force, the six-page Russian report stated, as fact, that Casey, George Bush and other Republicans had met secretly with Iranian officials in Europe during the 1980 presidential campaign. The Russians depicted the hostage negotiations that year as a two-way competition between the Carter White House and the Reagan campaign to outbid one another for Iran’s cooperation on the hostages. The Russians asserted that the Reagan team had disrupted Carter’s hostage negotiations after all, the exact opposite of the task force conclusion.
As described by the Russians, the Carter administration offered the Iranians supplies of arms and unfreezing of assets for a pre-election release of the hostages. One important meeting had occurred in Athens in July 1980 with Pentagon representatives agreeing “in principle” to deliver “a significant quantity of spare parts for F-4 and F-5 aircraft and also M-60 tanks … via Turkey,” according to the Russian report. The Iranians “discussed a possible step-by-step normalization of Iranian-American relations [and] the provision of support for President Carter in the election campaign via the release of American hostages.”
But the Republicans were making separate overtures to the Iranians, also in Europe, the Russians claimed. “William Casey, in 1980, met three times with representatives of the Iranian leadership,” the Russians wrote. “The meetings took place in Madrid and Paris.”
At the Paris meeting in October 1980, “R[obert] Gates, at that time a staffer of the National Security Council in the administration of Jimmy Carter and former CIA director George Bush also took part,” the Russians said. “In Madrid and Paris, the representatives of Ronald Reagan and the Iranian leadership discussed the question of possibly delaying the release of 52 hostages from the staff of the U.S. Embassy in Teheran.”
Both the Reagan Republicans and Carter Democrats “started from the proposition that Imam [Ruhollah] Khomeini, having announced a policy of ‘neither the West nor the East,’ and cursing the ‘American devil,’ imperialism and Zionism, was forced to acquire American weapons, spares and military supplies by any and all possible means,” the Russians wrote. According to the report, the Republicans won the bidding war.
“After the victory of R. Reagan in the election, in early 1981, a secret agreement was reached in London in accord with which Iran released the American hostages, and the U.S. continued to supply arms, spares and military supplies for the Iranian army,” the report continued. The deliveries were carried out by Israel, often through private arms dealers, the Russians said. Spares for F-14 fighters and other military equipment went to Iran from Israel in March-April 1981 and the arms pipeline kept flowing into the mid-1980s.
“Through the Israeli conduit, Iran in 1983 bought surface-to-surface missiles of the ‘Lance’ class plus artillery of a total value of $135 million,” the report said. “In July 1983, a group of specialists from the firm, Lockheed, went to Iran on English passports to repair the navigation systems and other electronic components on American-produced planes.” Then, in 1985, the weapons tap opened wider, into the Iran-contra shipments.
None dare call it treason — in 1968, 1980 or 2012.