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A Leg-Up for Oliver North

Richard Rorty, 20 October 1994

Dictatorship of Virtue: Multiculturalism and the Battle for America’s Future 
by Richard Bernstein.
Knopf, 367 pp., $25, September 1994, 0 679 41156 9
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... sneering: ‘Gosh. You mean my political correctness indoctrination isn’t advanced enough?’ (Oliver North, made famous by his lies to Congress, seems likely to win election to the US Senate in my own state of Virginia. When black and white liberals protested the display of the Confederate flag on a public building, Colonel ...
... There seem to have been several Oliver Norths. There was Oliver North the Patriot, whom Robert McFarlane would describe as ‘an imaginative, aggressive, committed young officer’, Ronald Reagan’s personally approved ‘hero’. There was Oliver North the Man of God, the born-again Christian from the charismatic Episcopal Church of the Apostles who believed that the Lord had healed his wounds and who – in the words of one former associate at the National Security Council – ‘thought he was doing God’s work at the NSC ...
Under Fire: An American Story 
by Oliver North and William Novak.
HarperCollins, 446 pp., £17.99, October 1991, 0 06 018334 9
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Terry Waite: Why was he kidnapped? 
by Gavin Hewitt.
Bloomsbury, 230 pp., £15.99, November 1991, 0 7475 0375 3
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... report, a slovenly document which does not even boast an index, starts its story in that year. Col Oliver North, the man who, according to the received version, thought up the idea of selling arms to secure the release of American hostages in Beirut, tells us: ‘My own operational involvement began ... on the afternoon of 17 November 1985.’ The BBC’s ...


Michael Rogin, 13 October 1988

Guts and Glory: The Rise and Fall of Oliver North 
by Ben Bradlee.
Grafton, 572 pp., £14.95, September 1988, 0 246 13364 3
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For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington 
by Donald Regan.
Hutchinson, 397 pp., £16.95, June 1988, 0 09 173622 6
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... not the evidence offered by the President and his circle so compelling. Guts and Glory portrays Oliver North, who enacted the anti-Communist part of Reagan. For the Record, written by the man who became his chief male caretaker, casts the President’s wife as the villain. When these current extensions of the President implicated him in law-breaking ...

One for water, one for urine

Stephen Smith, 3 December 1992

An Evil Cradling 
by Brian Keenan.
Hutchinson, 297 pp., £16.99, September 1992, 0 09 175208 6
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Hostage: The Complete Story of the Lebanese Captives 
by Con Coughlin.
Little, Brown, 461 pp., £16.99, October 1992, 0 316 90304 3
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... Waite was held hostage in Beirut, journalists found themselves asking what his links were with Oliver North. I have on my desk the daubs of a class of five-year-olds from Stockport, Cheshire, who were commissioned to re-create the scenes that the TV man John McCarthy would have missed during his captivity. Employed by the same organisation as ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Dick Cheney’s Homepage, 18 November 2004

... like to boast about: funnelling tax-payers’ money into Halliburton, sidelining Congress, giving Oliver North and John Poindexter an easy ride over Iran-Contra. Blaming Cheney absolves Bush, and election-winning numbers of people vote not according to a party’s policies but on a candidate’s personality and character. This is paradoxical, but no more ...

Programmed to Fail

Edward Luttwak, 22 December 1994

... candidates just like themselves, too extreme to have much electoral appeal: hence the fact that Oliver North failed, despite all his money and the weakness of the two opponents who divided the anti-North vote. More often, however, the new Republican activists are fielding non-fanatical ‘culturally ...

Look over your shoulder

Christopher Hitchens, 25 May 1995

... that he murdered Vince Foster. Now, it is true that people like Rush Limbaugh and Gordon Liddy and Oliver North, the soldiers of fortune of the airwaves, have made observations that flirt with incitement. Limbaugh recently predicted a second and ‘violent’ American revolution in approving tones, and Liddy actually recommended the shooting of Federal ...

Down there

Isabel Hilton, 11 July 1991

In Search of the Assassin 
by Susie Morgan.
Bloomsbury, 207 pp., £15.99, May 1991, 0 7475 0401 6
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... the flesh of the Contras as of the Sandinistas, might have seemed like a legitimate policy goal to Oliver North. But that the CIA would try to kill him by blowing up a substantial part of the press corps seemed unthinkable. Unless, of course, it could be blamed on the Sandinistas. It was so unthinkable as a US act that many preferred to believe it was a ...

Institutional Hypocrisy

David Runciman: Selling the NHS, 21 April 2005

Restoring Responsibility: Ethics in Government, Business and Healthcare 
by Dennis Thompson.
Cambridge, 349 pp., £16.99, November 2004, 0 521 54722 9
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NHS plc: The Privatisation of Our Healthcare 
by Allyson Pollock.
Verso, 271 pp., £15.99, September 2004, 1 84467 011 2
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Brown’s Britain 
by Robert Peston.
Short Books, 369 pp., £14.99, January 2005, 1 904095 67 4
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... also consistent with deep personal sincerity, and such sincerity will often be one of its causes. Oliver North, for instance, was not a hypocrite in any conventional sense, in that his behaviour was neither primarily self-serving nor inconsistent. It was North’s sincerity that enabled him to subvert the institutions ...

The Vice President’s Men

Seymour M. Hersh, 24 January 2019

... to get his way because of a rare error of judgment by Moreau, who had brought Marine Lieutenant Oliver North onto the secret team. The Iran-Contra story, as seen from inside the Moreau operation, has little in common with the public record. Bush, known to his friends and aides as ‘Poppy’, was also worried about Nicaragua and Daniel Ortega, the ...


Tam Dalyell: Questions for Mrs Thatcher, 23 July 1987

... seats, and half campaigning in some thirty English marginal seats. So much has been written on the North-South divide, and the fact that great cities such as Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Glasgow have no representative of the governing party, that I need not dwell on what is since 11 June familiar ground. I wonder, however, whether everyone in England ...


David Rieff: Cuban Miami, 5 February 1987

... from those of neighbouring Georgia and Alabama. It is, of course, scarcely the case that North Florida grew more liberal over the past twenty years. Rather, the Cuban-American community finally seemed to realise that as long as Castro was alive their chances of returning to the island were nil. The result was that they began to turn their ...

Strait is the gate

Christopher Hitchens, 21 July 1994

Watergate: The Corruption and Fall of Richard Nixon 
by Fred Emery.
Cape, 448 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 224 03694 7
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The Haldeman Diaries: Inside the Nixon White House 
by H.R. Haldeman.
Putnam, 698 pp., $27.50, May 1994, 0 399 13962 1
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... to summarise the bewildering complexity of the Iran-Contra affair, and got gates galore. Since Oliver North and John Poindexter had communicated their fell designs through a system called the Prof computer, and since the thing hinged so much on transfers of hot and dirty money, I myself proudly came up with ‘Profligate’ which, though it won me no ...

Family Stories

Patrice Higonnet, 4 August 1994

The Past in French History 
by Robert Gildea.
Yale, 416 pp., £30, February 1994, 0 300 05799 7
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La Gauche survivra-t-elle aux socialistes? 
by Jean-Marie Colombani.
Flammarion, 213 pp., frs 105, March 1994, 2 08 066953 2
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... a human face’, a means of governance foreshadowed by figures as varied as Philippe de Villiers, Oliver North and Berlusconi. It matters to us all that French political traditions should continue to provide the answers they once did; but contrary to what Gildea believes, that does not seem to be on the cards ...

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