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Leadership Theory and Applications

Autor:   •  February 11, 2015  •  Case Study  •  1,637 Words (7 Pages)  •  766 Views

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John Pointdexter: Admiral to Felon

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27 NOVEMBER 2013

        The United States Naval Academy is an institution that provides undergraduate education to young officer candidates who wish to enter the military. Not only this, but the mission states that the Academy will “graduate leaders who are dedicated to a career of naval service…to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship, and government.”[1] This mission serves as the fundamental outline for every graduate coming from the Naval Academy and entering the fleet, and eventually entering the civilian sector. Vice Admiral John Poindexter was a 1958 graduate of the Naval Academy who had a distinguished career; he served in the Navy for over twenty-five years until he was appointed as the National Security Advisor to President Reagan in 1985.[2] During his time in the Navy he assumed command of the Destroyer Squadron 31 and eventually became the Commander, Naval Education Training Command. This renowned career in the Navy gave him the war-fighting experience during a time of heightened tensions between the United States and Russia. However, during his term as the National Security Advisor, he was involved directly with the Iran-Contra affair, illegally selling arms to Iran in order to fund the rebel group in Nicaragua. John Poindexter failed in his ethical leadership to allow this action to occur without the approval of Congress.

        The Iran-Contra affair began when a revolution started in Iran that overthrew the United States’ sanctioned shaw.[3] During this time, the United States embassy was taken over and “radical Iranians” held American citizens as hostages. In order to rescue these hostages, the President decided to sell arms to Iran. Simultaneously, in Nicaragua, the CIA trained a group of rebels to fight a war against the communist-regime government. The National Security Council, which included Poindexter, Oliver North, and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, decided to distribute the funds earned from selling arms to Iran in order to fund the guerilla war in Nicaragua.[4] All of this occurred without an appropriations bill approved by Congress, which deemed it illegal.

        The primary reason that the United States was sending aid to the guerilla war was because of the anti-communist culture that Americans believed. This mentality was conceived at the start of the Cold War in order to combat the Soviet Union’s lifestyle of communism spreading. With the Cuban Missile Crisis over a decade in the past, animosity towards communist-led groups was still prevalent during this time period. Although the proximity of Nicaragua was not as close as that of Cuba, the country was still close enough towards the American border that policy makers saw a threat to national security if a communist government existed on the western hemisphere. To alleviate this issue a fundamental plans was created: the Marshall Plan offered the idea of “containment” which would utilize United States sanctioned resources to influence other countries to offer a better form of government, the capitalist, democratic way.[5]


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