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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

dear ayatollah k, we both like sweets...

LI has read many commentaries on the loopy letter sent by Iran’s president, Ahmadinejad. But oddly enough, the last exchange of letters, this time from the American side, is hardly referred to at all. I am talking, of course, of the incomparable mission, undertaken by Bud McFarlane and Oliver North, in May, 1986, to Teheran. Our oh so sane president at the time, Reagan, sent a signed copy of the Bible (sometimes, as we know, Reagan suffered from hallucinations – the Bible signing resulted from the hallucination that he was really Charleton Heston, who, as we know, wrote the Bible) and a cake. I don’t know if Nancy baked the cake. I have a feeling that is one of the things that Nancy didn’t do. Before the trip, North had been advised by Casey to take along some poison pills. You never know, they might not like German Chocolate.

Actually, according to the times, it was a kosher cake:

“On May 25, Mr. McFarlane and his group brought a kosher chocolate cake from Israel for the Iranians in Teheran. In a report back to the White House from Teheran, he interrupted his narrative to describe a watermelon break. At another point, Mr. McFarlane said he distinctly remembered telling President Reagan in the hospital about the arms shipments ''because the President was wearing pajamas.''

And this is the NYT article from January 30, 1987, which should make us all breathe easier about how, well, sane American leaders are compared to those clownish Iranians:

“The White House confirmed today that President Reagan had sent a signed Bible to Iranian leaders.

The confirmation came in remarks by Larry Speakes, the White House spokesman, three months after Iran first disclosed the Bible's existence.
The book, with a signed inscription by Mr. Reagan, was displayed Wednesday at a news conference in Teheran by Iran's Speaker of Parliament, Hojatolislam Hashemi Rafsanjani.

Today Mr. Speakes said the Bible, with Mr. Reagan's signature and the date of Oct. 3, 1986, under a handwritten quotation, had been given by American emissaries to an intermediary in Frankfurt to be passed on to Iranian leaders.

''It was a gesture to indicate that those who were there were truly representing the President, and that the President, too, was a man of God,'' he said.
On Wednesday, after the Teheran news conference, Mr. Speakes said that he knew nothing about the matter and would not ask Mr. Reagan about it.
The existence of the Bible was first disclosed by Hojatolislam Rafsanjani in November. At that time, the Iranian leader said the United States had sent the Bible and a cake shaped like a key, reportedly in an allusion to the possible opening of relations.

The Iranian leader spoke after a Beirut magazine had revealed the secret sale of arms to Iran by reporting a trip to Teheran by Robert C. McFarlane, former national security adviser.

After the disclosure, Mr. Reagan said on television on Nov. 13, ''Don't believe all these wild stories.''

Today Mr. Speakes said the handwritten passage in the Bible, from Galatians, had been suggested to Mr. Reagan by Vice Adm. John M. Poindexter, then the national security adviser.
The White House spokesman said details about the Bible had been uncovered in a review of documents left by Admiral Poindexter and his aide, Lieut. Col. Oliver L. North. Mr. Speakes said that Colonel North was almost certainly the emissary at the Frankfurt meeting, which occurred a few days after Mr. Reagan had signed the Bible. Mr. Speakes said he did not know the identity of the Iranian intermediary.
According to Mr. Speakes, the sending of a signed Bible had been suggested by Colonel North ''because there had been discussions about the common religious heritage that existed between Moslem and Christian and Jewish religions.''
The handwritten quotation read: ''And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, 'All the nations shall be blessed in you.' Galatians 3:8. Ronald Reagan. Oct 3, 1986.''
When Mr. Speakes was asked why he had not acknowledged the Bible episode in the first place, he said the White House wanted to be sure of its facts.”

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