One of Ronald Reagan’s great undoings as President was the fact that a gang of neocons managed to penetrate his Administration at the second and third tiers, particularly at the Defense and State Departments, and as “consultants” to the National Security Council. End result: Iran-Contra and other debacles that left a black scar on the Reagan legacy. Although an independent prosecutor, Lawrence Walsh, was appointed to fully investigate the illegal arming of the Nicaraguan Contras and the covert shipping of ballistic missiles to Iran, some via Israel, few of the culprits were actually indicted and fewer were convicted.
The reason for dredging up this bit of ancient history is the fact that one of the nastiest of the Iran-Contra criminals, Elliot Abrams, is under consideration for the powerful post of Deputy Secretary of State, according to a January 25, 2017 Washington Post column by Josh Rogin. I do not use the word “criminal” rhetorically. Abrams was one of the few Iran-Contra players to be convicted, albeit of a misdemeanor crime of misleading Congress. He actually lied to Congress, which was a felony, but he struck a plea agreement with Special Prosecutor Walsh and got the reduced penalty in return for a promise to cooperate. That October 1991 deal had been preceded in July 1991 by a similar plea deal by Alan Fiers, the CIA officer who was also a key player in the illegal arming of the Nicaraguan Contras. Abrams headed the Restricted Interagency Group, which coordinated the secret war in Central America between the White House, the CIA and the Pentagon. Other members of the RIG were Lt. Col. Oliver North and Fiers.
Abrams is neocon aristocracy. Before he joined the Reagan Administration, he worked for Senators Henry Jackson and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. His father-in-law was Norman Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine and a co-founder of the American neo-conservative movement along with Irving Kristol.
Although his misdemeanor convictions deprived Abrams of a post in the George H.W. Bush Administration, he was a co-founder of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), which produced the neocon blueprint for the George W. Bush Administration’s endless regime change wars. He was appointed by Bush 43 to a top post at the National Security Council, where he was in the middle of the promotion of the disastrous Iraq invasion of March 2003.
Any appointment of Abrams to a top post in the Trump Administration, especially a post as powerful as Deputy Secretary of State, who effectively runs the day to day affairs of the U.S. diplomatic corps, would be a disaster. An even larger disaster, to be avoided, would be the flood of neocon ideologues into key State Department posts if Abrams were to get the job. Open the door a crack and the stink bugs swarm in. They never travel alone.
No doubt, Bibi Netanyahu, who is preparing his first visit to Washington since the Trump inauguration, is crossing his fingers, and perhaps even praying that Abrams gets the job.