New relationship between
religion and politics
· Regan tied into a religious right that was developing in the USA and related them into issues abroad.
As mentioned. Project democracy had
· Overt and Covert in central America against the Sandanista government.
World antiCommunist league essentially
- · was a privatized version of Regan foreign policy
- · Death squads were provided by the private organization
Religion and politics, public and private intersection
- · Institute on Religion and Democracy was founded April 1981
- · Private organization, group of Christians. Part of the religious right.\
- · They criticized the old line/main line protestant churches.
- · Funded initially by right wing foundations and by national endowment for democracy (government money that regan established)
IRB would hold meetings in the
- · state department auditorium, most private groups did not have access to this
- · suggested close relationship between Regan administration and IRB
One of leading participants in IRB was
- · Catholic lay minister, the theologian Michael Novak. He would often be called in as part of the state department.
- · Published a book in 1981 titled "theology of a corporation" where Novak lifts up the corporation in the US. Gives a religious sanction of a corporation saying corporations make democratic capitalism possible. People can't live just
- as individuals, they need society, and corporations bring them together best. Don't try to regulate corporations, government is the problem not the corporations. This took a religious overtone, saying save your souls by liberating the private sector not the state. This is an anti-sandanista movement.
All this came together, the private sector (IRB) and also the regan administration adds to a new agenda
- · anti-communism. not a new theme, was a bipartisan foreign policy throughout the cold war. Regan doctrine called for not only containment but also rollback. Ie. toppling sandanistas.
- · also a strong commitment to Israel. Evangelical theologians and church leaders and politicians identified
- with them and became increasingly supportive of Israel and anti enemies like the Palestinian liberation organization (PLO). Christians were supporting jews not really as jews but as proto-christians. Looked to the middle east as a place where Armageddon may take place.
- · Strong support for white south Africa that supported apartheid. religion and politics came together. Government which was the decedents of Dutch settlers, was thoroughly committed to apartheid. They were good Calvinists and this was gods
- way. Gods will wanted white people to rule in south Africa. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a long time critic of apartheid.
Black churches in south Africa began to
- · call for the end of apartheid. mixture of religion and politics in south Africa and US
- · Some were calling for liberation and some were calling for theology
- · Nelson Mandela who was in prison and was still there until 1990, reflected this orientation. He was a lay member in the Methodist church in south Africa, but this was not often touted when many people saw Nelson Mandela as a communist. Had support from the communist party, and if he had support then he was communist in nature.
One notable success for the Regan administration was in
- · Caribbean. Grenada was a small island in eastern Caribbean. Regan had political brilliance because he understood that the American people having experienced failure of OPEC, soviet union as a nuclear power, stagflation, Vietnam, in this situation the people wanted a victory. Regan picked the right enemy, a very small island, to win a war and do it quickly.
- · Oct 25 1983 we invaded Grenada. A new government (Marxist) came in and turned to Cuba. Cuba sent assistance to Grenada build a new air port. Also health, Cuban doctors went to Grenada. Cubans airport looked like they were creating a
- military base. Assassination of President in Grenada, and Oct 1983 a new leader came in.
How do you justify invasion of Grenada?
- · You have to send marines into Grenada to protect American students who were studying in medical school. When
- the troops arrived, they did not go to the medical school. It took them a week to get to protecting the lives of the students, so this obviously was not the primary mission.
- · They did this under the umbrella that other nations felt threatened by Grenada. Gave international cover to American invasion. It had wonderful political timing. 2 days after truck bombing of US marines in Beirut Lebanon. It took a week to win
- the war. Invasion was inept. At one point, officers went to pay phones to communicate with the pentagon because communication systems they brought broke down.
In Lebanon, is a divided country with
· Christian majority, but muslims were increasing in number. Neighboring Syria had major role in Lebanon. PLO also moved into Lebanon but was based largely in the West bank and Gaza strip. Israel was also a presence in the area.
In 1982 Israel invaded
- · southern Lebanon to get rid of the PLO threat. Neighboring Syria was supporting the PLO to an extent.
- · When they moved in the Israeli cabinet said they should stop . Ariel Sharon who was in charge decided not to and kept going all the way up to Beirut. Once in Beirut, he moved into a PLO camp on the outskirts. Once the Israelis took over they allowed Christian militias to come in a slaughter the Palestinians there. In response the UN decided to send in troops to restore order. French, Italians, and Americans came in under UN mandate.
Meanwhile the civil war in
· Lebanon would continue. This would culminate in the truck bombing in the Marine headquarters. 241 US marines died. A truck loaded with explosives driven by suicide driver plowed into the marine compound and exploded. Major attack. Regan in the aftermath faced political problems.
What did Regan do?
· Terrorists attacked marines. Terrorists killed Americans. He withdrew the troops from Lebanon. the message he sent was that if you attack the Americans they will cut and run. this is very counter to what people thought at the time as opposed to Regan's John Wayne tough guy mentality. Beginning in 1984 after US evacuated in Lebanon, some terrorist organizations which had connections with Iran began to seize American hostages. 1984 -1985 he began to deal with hostage crises.
All of this took place in context in ongoing war between Iraq and Iran
- · Americans tilted to Iraq. Rumsfeld went to Baghdad and gave American intelligence and chemicals to Hussein. Overall US policy was hostile to Iran
- · led to biggest scandal in Regan presidency
- · November 3, 1986 a Lebanon newspaper began to reveal what was taking place and other news stations learned from that.
- · Once Regan began to focus on hostage taking in Lebanon he was looking for a solution. Trading arms for hostages. Arms would be given to Iran in exchange that the Komeni government may influence terrorist groups in Lebanon. Essentially bribery. Directly counter to the open policy that we supported Iraq. Also counter to policy for dealing with terrorists. Regan national security advisors were directly involved, they had connections that helped get arms into Iran. Covert middle eastern operation. Robert McFarlane who was national security advisor went to Tehran and claimed purpose was to find moderates in Iran with who US could work with. After, McFarlane resigned, admiral John Poindexeter would take over as national security advisor. All of this overlapped project democracy, William Casey of CIA, and John
- Singlaub, were all involved with this as well. Anticommunists working with terrorists. ha
If you are going to sell arms to Iran, that would bring in money.
· Oliver North came up with the idea that arms available by the CIA sold to Iran, the money would be diverted to Swiss bank accounts in the name of the leaders of the Cantras. This was in the context of the Bollin amendment which was supposed to shut off money to Cantras. Regan turned to some rich Texans, possible real money and possible just to claim it was private money.
Once news broke in early November 1986
- · Regan was in a little bit of a pickle. Arms for hostages meant we were dealing with Iran even though Regan said Komanii was evil and we should not deal with
- · Also counter to policy of not dealing with terrorists
- · Regan said we did not trade weapons or anything for hostage in November 1986, later more evidence came out. In this context Regan fired Poindexter and Oliver North who were both deeply involved.
Congress wanted to know more.
- · Regan appointed John Tower to head the investigation (Tower Commission).
- · In addition, a special counsel led by Lawrence Walsh began to investigate what laws were broken. Also joint house senate committee began to investigate as well.
- · All of them reached: Ronald Regan was deeply involved in Iran-Contra. He signed off. He claimed he was not involved, but there was a paper trail. Was guilty of potentially impeachable crimes. Best case was that he was incompetent old Alzheimer man. This began to erode his tephlon coating and was a major crisis in his presidency