About Operation Enterprise, Churchill’s phrase seems apt—“a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.”
— Reverend Terry Waite,
prisoner for 1,763 days
My enquiries into the Scud attacks on Teheran and the arms embargos imposed on both sides at the outset of the IranIraq war led me into deep waters. During the course of the war Washington had tilted sharply, and London only slightly less so, towards Saddam Hussein. The Americans, for example underwrote loans for the Iraqis, provided them with spare parts for their warplanes and satellite-based intelligence about Iran’s defenses.
The U.S. approach if not admirable was understandable. The State Department having dumped the Shah had tried but failed to come to terms with the Islamic regime in Teheran. Memories of the show trials and executions that followed still were raw in Washington. Khomeini’s revolution had torn a hole in the U.S. strategy of blocking the Soviet Union’s thrust towards the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. Soviet troops had invaded Afghanistan.
The hostages crisis and the humiliating failure of President Carter’s attempt to rescue them turned the knife in American wounds. President Reagan now faced a new kind of Middle East horror. In April 1983 a suicide bomber blew himself up at the U.S. embassy in Beirut, killing sixty three of its employees, among them seventeen Americans. This outrage was blamed on Palestinian and Hezbollah terrorists both of whom got help from Iran. Six months later, 241 U.S. marines died when their barracks near Beirut airfield were blown to