After six years of magic, President Reagan broke the spell. By deceiving the nation, he and those around him badly damaged his presidency. This traumatic tale is still unfolding, with no end in sight. This is how it developed.
Nov. 4, 1979 Militants storm the U.S. embassy in Tehran and hold 52 Americans hostage for the next 14 months, triggering a U.S. embargo on the shipment of arms and spare parts to the regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Dec. 25-26, 1979: The Soviet Union airlifts troops to Afghanistan. September 1980 Iran-Iraq war begins. After the United States rejects an Iranian request two months later to buy spare parts for its U.S.-made F-14 warplanes, Iran goes into the international black market in an extensive and expensive effort to obtain parts to maintain its military arsenal. Jan. 20, 1981 American hostages in Iran are released. Jan. 20, 1981: Ronald Reagan inaugurated. August, 1981 Lt. Col. Oliver North joins the staff of the National Security Council. Early March, 1982 Reports surface that the Reagan Administration, charging Nicaragua has become a "Soviet bastion," has begun efforts to support contras. June 6, 1982: Israel invades Lebanon. December 1982 Congress adopts restrictions on aid to the Nicaraguan contras. October 17, 1983