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October Has Come, But Not Gone
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I have previously written for TAC about the October Surprise of 1980, how it developed, and what impact it might have had on the election of Ronald Reagan. The “Surprise” was arranged through a secret agreement made between some associates of the Reagan campaign and the Iranian government.

Those who follow the international media are aware that there is intense interest worldwide in the upcoming U.S. election. The general consensus in Europe and much of the rest of the world is that Mitt Romney’s foreign policy would be dangerous, as he reminds other nations too much of George W. Bush and has, in fact, surrounded himself with Bush’s neocon advisers. Most countries are spectators as the campaign grinds on, even if there has even been considerable controversy over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s involvement. Netanyahu’s frequent demands for red lines for an attack on Iran and his appearance in television ads that would benefit Romney were provocative, but it does not seem that he will not do anything dramatic to alter the course of the election.

Yet that is not necessarily true for Iran, which could well be on the receiving end of Romney’s attentions in the form of a “preemptive” military attack. Iran just might be in position to do something to influence the course of the election, as it may have done in 1980.

Iran is experiencing serious economic disruption at the moment, partly caused by sanctions but also due to distortions in its internal economy. It has also reportedly proposed a new plan to resolve the problems relating to the country’s nuclear program, a proposal that it has also denied making and which has already been rejected by Washington. But what if Iran were to make the political calculation that (a) it must act to make it appear to the Iranian people that is doing something about its economy, and (b) that Obama would be a much safer choice than Romney, and (c) that since it has no actual nuclear weapons program it can easily make an offer that Obama cannot refuse, negotiating away something that it does not have, probably along the lines of the nine-step proposal that it may or may not have already made? It can always renege on the deal anyway based on some technicality after the U.S. election is over. As a probable quid pro quo for accepting most of Washington’s demands, Iran would have at least some sanctions lifted, lessening the pressure on its economy and showing good will. For Obama, it would be a diplomatic triumph vindicating his negotiations policy, at one stroke disarming the nation that is frequently being described in the campaign as the greatest threat to the entire world and possibly guaranteeing reelection. For the American people it would likely mean canceling the third Romney-Obama debate on foreign policy, freeing up the evening for the “Dancing with the Stars All Stars Gala.” It’s a win-win-win for everyone.

I am not suggesting that any of the above might actually happen, but if I were the Grand Ayatollah Khamenei I would certainly be thinking in that direction.

(Republished from The American Conservative by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: 2012 Election, Iran 
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  1. No matter what concessions Iran made, even complete capitulation, would be played domestically as weakness and a cave-in should any lessening of belligerent talk, let alone sanctions easing, occur.

    There is just too much of a financial upside to the military-financial-industrial-congressional complex for hostilities not to increase, let alone be maintained.

    That such is now true, is the clearest indication that policy has been hijacked in favor of elite interests against those of most Americans, for whom another pre-emptive war of choice will be a disaster.

  2. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I agree with Fran Macadam. Israel’s problem with Iran is not that it is or is not developing a nuclear weapon, and it does not really regard Iran as an existential threat. Many suspect that the real problem is that Israel will not abide an economically or militarily robust Iran. Thanks almost solely to our patronage, subsidies and protection, Israel has become – and grown accustomed to being – overwhelmingly the most powerful nation in the region, and will not willingly relinquish that status to Iran. Crying wolf about non-existent nukes effectively delays the day that Iran resumes its historical regional rank and role.

  3. “The “Surprise” was arranged through a secret agreement made between some associates of the Reagan campaign and the Iranian government.”

    Phil, I was deeply disturbed by this statement the first time you made it. Without doubting your personal veracity, I wonder if you could elucidate a bit on how you know this version of events to be true. I know that Casey spoke with the Iranians, but I heard a very different version.

    Your assertion puts a terrible blot on Reagan’s name. It also doesn’t fit well with his subsequent record.

  4. To paraphrase Bill Clinton,”its the economy stupid.” As long as the American Economy remains in the toilet Romney has a chance. If things improve economically,despite foreign problems,Romney will probably lose. Of course,with less then 4 weeks left before the election, who knows how things will turn out.

  5. Tom – I know the CIA Chiefs of Station who set up the meetings between Casey and the Iranians and I also know that the purpose of the meetings was to keep the hostages under wraps until after the election. Whether Reagan was personally in the loop, knew of it or approved of it, I do not know.

  6. Very sorry to hear that.

    The version I heard was that Casey met with the Iranians to deliver the message that if the hostages weren’t in American custody by the time Reagan was sworn in, the Sh*t would hit the fan immediately. I can imagine that the Iranians might have taken that to mean they could hold the hostages until the last moment. Obviously I hope that is what happened. If Casey made the deal you describe, I’m sure Reagan did not know what was being done in his name.

    Clearly the Chiefs of Station had a duty to act if they knew that Americans, including some of their own comrades, were being betrayed in this way.

  7. Reagan’s weakness was also his strength – that he believed so many of the myths of American exceptionalism that others regarded only as useful propaganda to manipulate ordinary Americans for their own purposes.

    Even though many of these cherished beliefs about our history and character are nothing more than self-serving hypocrisy, Reagan’s own personal character seems to have been informed by a sincere belief in them, and to have acted in accord with them, which is no bad thing for good governance.

    Hence, he was able to act against his handlers’ interests when it came to making peace with a sincere Gorbachev and to actually try to eliminate nuclear weapons – a horrifying prospect to the elitists. After his death, we now know that he would not have launched a counter-strike against a nuclear attack, due to a deep moral horror of ending life on earth – arguably a violation of a President’s job description, but not a genuine moralist’s.

    As he stated, which I hope was true, he was always aware that there would be people who decided to act on their own against a President’s own wishes, as he said occurred in the case of Oliver North.

    Lending credence to Philip’s evidence is that that the Iranian/Israeli arms incident showed that those in his administration had more than a passing acquaintance with the Iranian leadership and that there was a relationship of mutual trust among them. Certainly, William Casey seems to have gone to his grave with any number of unsavory and inconvenient secrets kept from the American body politic.

  8. I was at the CIA base in Istanbul when Iran-Contra was running. As Fran Macadam notes there were strong connections between the Iranian leadership and players in Washington. I spent many nights at the airport expediting the transit of private Lear jets through Turkey. The planes were carrying senior members of the Revolutionary Guards as well as former Savak officers who were on their way to the United States for meetings.

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