Moammar Gadhafi once had ties to Idaho when politicos stood in line to sign deals with the Libyan strongman who was in power during the Frank Church tenure as chairman of the U.S. Senate foreign relations committee.
The GUARDIAN editor worked on assignment for the New York TIMES during the circus-like atmosphere when a delegation of Libyans came to town to buy Idaho wheat in the late 1970’s. John Evans was governor and a Libyan-born professor at the University of Idaho brokered a deal with the Idaho Wheat Commission to sell Idaho wheat to Libya.
The true motivation of Gadhafi and his delegation was to put political pressure on Senator Church to release C-130 military aircraft being withheld from Libya for fear they would be used against Israel. When the deal was signed the Libyan representative said there could be more deals to benefit Idaho farmers if they could convince their senator to release the aircraft purchased by Libya.
History will note that farmer Steve Symms beat Church at the next election and there are also pictures floating around the internet of Rep. Symms and Gadhafi exchanging gifts. One of which was used by John Evans in an attempt to link Symms to Libya’s military dictator during his 1986 unsuccessful attempt to oust Symms from his Senate sweat….ironically Evans had welcomed the Libyan wheat buyers to Idaho.
While the wheat farmers met with the foreign delegation, others milled about the Riverside Hotel seeking to sell everything from cattle to beans. All were met with a line that went something like, “We love Idaho products and people.” It was pretty gushy and hugely manipulative.
The NY TIMES was eager to catch the less than sophisticated Idaho folks signing an agreement with a “anti-zionist clause” which prohibited any financing, brokering, transporting by Jews or Jewish companies. Gadhafi didn’t care for Israel or Jews. Sure enough the Idaho folks signed the deal to deliver the wheat to Tripoli, complete with the anti-zionist clause.
Ironically, when it came time to deliver, the deal called for HARD RED wheat. Idaho grows mostly SOFT WHITE. Panicky Idaho wheat commission staffers made a quick phone call to a Portland grain dealer and secured an equal amount of HARD RED wheat. While the Idaho politicos basked in their international trade glory, not a kernel of grain came from Idaho.
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