BUSH'S OILY ROLE IN IRAN ARMS DEAL
Vice President George Bush's acknowledged support for the
ill-fated secret arms shipments to Iran has been interpreted as
evidence of his loyalty to the policies of President Reagan.
Now, however, other evidence suggests that Bush, far more than
President Reagan, promoted the Iran initiative, took part in key
negotiations, and conferred upon Oliver North the secret powers
necessary to carry it out.
It also has been charged that Bush actively promoted the Iran
arms sales because of an economic motive the president did not share
-- the desire to stabilize the dropping oil prices in 1986.
Peter Dale Scott, co-author of THE IRAN CONTRA CONNECTION and
former senior fellow at the International Center for Development
Policy in Washington, suggests that Bush's primary concern in early
1986 was to stabilize falling crude oil prices by promoting a common
price policy between the United States and the oil producers of the
Persian Gulf, including, above all, Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Further, Scott says, the interest in higher oil prices was an
explicit goal in some of Oliver North's secret arms negotiations with
the Iranians. The price of oil reflected the concerns of Bush, a
former Texas oilman, rather than of Reagan, a free market advocate.
Scott traces Bush's involvement back to the January 17, 1986,
meeting of the president's national security advisers at which the
president signed the controversial finding which authorized the arms
sales. The meeting was attended only by Bush and three other known
supporters of the arms sales intiative -- Chief of Staff Donald
Regan, National Security Adviser John Poindexter, and Poindexter's
deputy Donald Fortier.
As the Iran-Contra Select Committee Report points out, Secretary
of State Goerge Schultz and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger
were deliberately kept in the dark about the trip North took with
Robert McFarlane to Tehran three months later. Yet Bush not only knew
of the trip but he helped in scheduling it. In a little-noticed
message of Aril 4, 1986, Pondexter told North that, "If we can manage
it, the VP would appreciate it if the Iran trip did not take place
until the VP leaves Saudi Arabia. If that screws up planning too much,
then he will uderstand that we can't do it." The request was honored;
the McFarlane-North trip took place a month after Bush returned from
Bush's mission to Saudi Arabia was to persuade leaders of that
country to help stabilize oil prices then rapidly falling to under $10
a barrel. His trip was successful; Saudi Arabia King Fahd received
the Iranian petroleum minister in the autumn of l986 and the two
countries agreed to OPEC arrangements for boosting oil prices to $18 a
barrel. The $18 price brought economic relief to oil-producing states
like Texas which were the key to Bush's political base.
After the arms sale became public, oil industry sources commented
that McFarlane and Poindexter understood the connection between a
strong domestic oil industry and national security better than most
others in the administration.
SOURCE: PACIFIC NEWS SERVICE, 12/21/87, "Bush had oil policy
interest in promoting Iran arms deals," by Peter Dale Scott, pp 1-4.