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Reagan's 'Scandal'

March 17, 1987

Wattenberg seems to say that the end justifies the means. His remarks about Oliver North give that impression: "He says things that aren't true . . . He may have committed illegal acts . . . He may go to jail . . . (but) he helped give the contras sustenance . . ." Apparently, for Wattenberg, that last part made everything all right.

Not so. Ends always dictate means. Thus North, in pursuing an illegal purpose, was forced to use illegal tactics, which led to his undoing. President Reagan, on the other hand, in seeking release of hostages, pursued a worthy goal, which only a worthy approach could achieve. Unfortunately, he chose a faulty method, which resulted in great harm and embarrassment to himself and to the nation. So what Wattenberg cites as paradoxes in his article are really outright contradictions, because in each case purpose and strategy are at odds with each other.

VANCE GEIER

Los Angeles

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