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November 08, 1987|Morton Kamins

DEFIANT PATRIOT: THE LIFE AND EXPLOITS OF LT. COLONEL OLIVER L. NORTH by Peter Meyer (St. Martin's Press: $4.50, paper; 287 pp.). To beatify Oliver North, as this hopelessly shallow biography attempts, requires the author's absolute acceptance of the far-right world view and a fierce determination to ignore unpleasant facts.

Here, a soi-disant patriotic motive justifies all. The Contras must be supported because they are "the only viable weapon the U.S. had to contain the Nicaraguan Communists from accomplishing similar Marxist takeovers in neighboring nations." Meyer never questions the alleged inevitability of eventual Communist takeovers if the Contras aren't supported. Certainly, the issue of whether the United States should be attempting to overthrow a sovereign government never arises. Accepting this perverted view of the world means, of course, celebrating the North-Poindexter contempt for the democratic process ("unflinchingly dissembling" i.e. lying, to Congress).

Hagiography forbids investigating what happened to all the money North's private operatives, Secord and Hakim, received. Idolatry won't permit analysis of arms for hostages: We hear of arms transfers and subsequent hostage releases, nothing of hostages subsequently seized and still held. Meyer never admits that North's own words exposed the "initiative to the moderates" in Iran as a phony from start to finish: North testified that he told the "second channel" that the United States wished Iran an honorable victory over Iraq, and that Iraq's Saddam Hussein "must go." He would say anything "if it would have gotten the Americans home."

Solace for the irrevocably converted may lie here; all others are hereby warned.

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