Its deception exposed and its initial explanations answered with disbelief, the Reagan Administration has turned to one of its favorite devices, the media blitz, to try to sell its version of what the arms deal with Iran was all about. Its story hasn't improved in the retelling. If anything, the statements by various officials have succeeded only in underscoring the muddleheadedness that underlay the Iran initiative and the high-level disarray that grew from it. Secretary of State George P. Shultz, trying to play the good soldier in his role as chief foreign-policy spokesman, has been hard put to hide his distaste for an action he opposed from the onset. Even those in the White House who were committed fully to the scheme have floundered in trying to make what they did appear intelligible.
It remains shocking, even astounding, that the basic foreign-policy implications of what the Administration got itself involved in went unexamined before the venture was launched and are still not understood after its collapse. No one in the White House seems to have given the least thought to how American credibility would be wounded as soon as it came out that the United States, while vigorously urging others to do one thing about Iran and terrorism, was covertly doing something else entirely itself. No one seems to have cared how America's allies would respond to the revelation of this hypocrisy. No one bothered to ask how friendly Arab regimes would react when they found out that the United States was arming the nation they fear most.