The Reagan Administration
- U.S. relations with Iran during the Reagan administration went through four stages—indifference, hostility, cooperation and finally confrontation that even included some limited combat.
- U.S. policy was shaped largely by three events: The 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and the abduction of American hostages in Beirut.
- A scandal in the mid-1980s—involving secret arms sales to Iran in exchange for release of American hostages held by Iran's allies in Lebanon—nearly destroyed the Reagan presidency.
- By 1988, U.S. support for Iraq and its military operations against Iran contributed to the end of the Iran-Iraq War and a de facto defeat for the Islamic Republic.
- U.S. aid to Iraq in the name of defeating Iran backfired somewhat. Tehran was weakened, but Iraq emerged stronger and more belligerent than anticipated. Two years after its war with Iran ended, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait – precipitating a major war with a U.S.-led coalition.
- Reagan left office with several Americans still in captivity in Beirut. Iran still had hundreds of Revolutionary Guards deployed in Lebanon. And Israeli forces in Lebanon were under growing pressure from Hezbollah.
- Reagan’s legacy was shaped most by the dramatic change in relations with the Soviet Union, including a friendship between Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. This rapprochement led to the break-up of the Warsaw Pact in 1989, and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. But the Cold War's end also had some benefits for Iran. It removed one longstanding threat, dating back to Soviet occupation of Iran during and after World War II. And it opened up diplomatic and economic access to a new bloc of Muslim countries that had been Soviet republics.
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"The Iran Primer"--Book Overview
The world’s most comprehensive website on Iran, “The Primer” brings together 50 experts—Western and Iranian—in concise chapters on politics, economy, military, foreign policy, and the nuclear program. It chronicles events under six U.S. presidents. It also has leader bios, timelines, data on nuclear sites—and context for what lies ahead. Click here for a hardcopy. New articles are added at the top.