In 1985 and 1986, the United States government, under the administration of President Ronald Reagan, sold military-grade weapons to the government of Iran. At that time Iran was sponsoring terrorist groups who had killed numerous Americans, and who were holding seven U.S. citizens hostage in Beirut. As if this wasn't bad enough, proceeds from the sale were illegally diverted to fund a secret army, the Contras, fighting a guerrilla war in Central America. All of these actions were either illegal, or contrary to Reagan's stated policy, or both.
As Presidential scandals go, Iran-Contra is a bit of a sleeper. People generally know that it happened and some can identify a few people or issues involved, but it's far less well understood than Watergate, or more recent scandals like Clinton-Lewinsky or the circumstances surrounding the two impeachments of Donald Trump. Part of the reason why Iran-Contra is more obscure is because it's incredibly complex. Any historian who tries to explain it automatically starts to resemble the famous "Wall of Crazy" meme.
In this video, part of my deep dive series of in-depth historical analyses on my YouTube channel, I'll explain and deconstruct the Iran-Contra affair in a way that makes it considerably less opaque. You'll learn the background of the scandal, what Reagan and his aides were trying to do, who people like Oliver North, John Poindexter and Richard Secord were, and how the thing went so horribly wrong. You'll also, I hope, get a sense of why this event matters. And it does. More recent scandals may be flashier and more visible, and have motivations at their heart that are more easily comprehended. But Iran-Contra is important in recent U.S. history, and it's arguably more relevant in 2023 than it has been since it first broke into the headlines nearly 40 years ago.
I hope you enjoy and learn something from this video, which is probably the most technically complex project I've taken on to date. YouTube is not just a toy for distraction of the eyes. It can educate, illuminate and broaden the historical picture. This is what I hope to do with projects like this.
Thanks for watching!
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