President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime

By Lou Cannon | Go to book overview

20
STRUGGLES AT TWILIGHT

A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.

RONALD REAGAN, MARCH 4, 1987 1

THROUGHOUT THE SECRET DEALINGS with Iran and the flow of U.S. missiles and military spare parts to the Iranian revolutionary government, Ronald Reagan masqueraded as a resolute foe of international terrorism. And in 1986, for one of the few times in his presidency, he went beyond denunciation. On April 14, U.S. Air Force and Navy bombers based in England struck the Libyan cities of Tripoli and Benghazi in retaliation for the bombing of a West Berlin disco where an American serviceman had been killed. The planes dropped more than ninety 2,000-pound bombs, at least two of which hit Splendid Gate, the barracks of Libyan strongman Moammar Qadaffi. The bombs killed Qadaffi's adopted two-year-old daughter and wounded two of his sons, but Qadaffi was sleeping in a tent outside the compound and escaped injury. Scores of civilians died in the U.S. raid, which was widely criticized in Europe and the Third World. France, which had refused over-flight permission for the U.S. bombers, led the critics. "I don't believe that you stop terrorism by killing 150 Libyans who have done nothing," said French President François Mitterrand. 2 The raid was nonetheless popular with a majority of Americans, who were pleased that Reagan had finally acted to discourage terrorism.

Reagan underscored his resolve on August 27 when he signed a new antiterrorism law that banned all military sales to nations, including Iran, designated as supporters of terrorism. "We can never legislate an end to terrorism," Reagan said in a statement issued after he signed the bill. "However, we must remain resolute in our commitment to confront this criminal behavior in every way--diplomatically, economically, legally and,

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President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Also by Lou Cannon ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface to the 1991 Edition ix
  • Preface to the 2000 Edition xi
  • 1 - Back to the Future 1
  • 2 - A Reagan Portrait 16
  • 3 - The Acting Politician 20
  • 4 - The Acting President 31
  • 5 - Offstage Influences 45
  • 6 - Heroic Dreams 66
  • 7 - Halcyon Days 78
  • 8 - Kidding on the Square 95
  • 9 - Hail to the Chief 115
  • 10 - Passive President 141
  • 11 - The Loner 172
  • 12 - Staying the Course 196
  • 13 - Focus of Evil 240
  • 14 - Freedom Fighters 289
  • 15 - Lost in Lebanon 339
  • 16 - An Actor Abroad 402
  • 17 - Morning Again in America 434
  • 18 - Turning Point 488
  • 19 - Darkness at Noon 521
  • 20 - Struggles at Twilight 580
  • 21 - The New Era 663
  • 22 - Visions and Legacies 711
  • Notes 765
  • Bibliography 820
  • Acknowledgments 835
  • Index 843
  • About the Author 885
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