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Reagan and Revelations About Arms to Iran

December 09, 1986

For a way to put a good face on the seemingly hopeless political and foreign policy mess created by its Iran- contra arms adventure, the Reagan Administration should look to Norman Podhoretz's commentary (Editorial Pages, Dec. 3), "It's Not Such a Mess Morally."

Podhoretz attempts to block comparisons of the current scandal with Watergate, saying that the latter stemmed from illegal activities designed to further political aims. He must expect his readers to have forgotten that Ronald Reagan used the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis to shameless political advantage in portraying Jimmy Carter as an incompetent President. Surely, then, the release of the remaining hostages held in Lebanon would have been played for all the partisan political gain it was worth by the current Administration--regardless of the mechanism behind the release.

Podhoretz characterizes the funneling of Iranian arms money to the contras during a congressional ban on contra funding as "jumping the gun." In light of the apparent illegality of the money transfer (not to mention the reckless and even sleazy manner in which the transfer was carried out), his statement is disgraceful.

Not only does he ignore the fact that the contra funding was reintroduced this summer under false pretenses, he further implies that the President may violate the will of the people for the sake of his policies. Despite Reagan's previous popularity, his Nicaraguan policy has received little public support, a sentiment that led to the congressional contra fund moratorium in the first place.

JOEL KASTNER

Los Angeles

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