Case #1254.0

Telling the Boss He's Wrong: George Shultz and Iran/Contra

Publication Date: January 01, 1994
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From the first he heard of the idea, Reagan administration Secretary of State George Shultz objected to the idea of selling arms to Iran in exchange for the safe release of American hostages held in Lebanon, with proceeds from the sale to be used to finance resistance to the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. Yet the objections of Shultz, ostensibly in a key position of responsibility in such matters, did not forestall the Iran/Contra operation, which ultimately proved disastrous for the second Reagan term.

Learning Objective:
This case tracks the specific forms in which Shultz framed his objections and raises two major themes: What should the ethical response be of a ranking official when policy proceeds in ways to which he or she objects? How, as a practical and personal matter, can dissenters best influence policy decisions?

Other Details

Case Author:
Kirsten Lundberg
Faculty Lead:
Philip Heymann
Pages (incl. exhibits):
United States