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Robert Carl “Bud” McFarlane (born July 12, 1937) is a retired Marine Corps officer who served as National Security Advisor to President of the United States Ronald Reagan from 1983 through 1985.
After a career in the Marines, McFarlane became part of the Reagan administration and was a leading architect of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) for defending the United States against missile attack. Subsequently, he was involved in, and pleaded guilty to charges for actions related to, the Iran-Contra affair, but received a pardon from President George H.W. Bush.
In 1979, he was appointed by U.S. Senator John Tower to the staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he was responsible for staffing Senate consideration of the SALT II Treaty from 1979 to 1981. He also authored much of Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy platform during the 1980 presidential campaign.
In 1981, President Reagan appointed and the Senate confirmed McFarlane as Counselor to the Department of State. In this post he assisted Secretary of State Alexander Haig.
In 1982, Reagan appointed McFarlane as Deputy National Security Advisor responsible for the integration of the policy recommendations of the Departments of State, Treasury and Defense. In 1983, he was appointed by the president as his Special Representative in the Middle East responsible for Israeli-Arab negotiations.
McFarlane has been criticized for involving the United States armed forces in the Lebanon Civil War with gunship bombardment of Lebanese opposition forces which may have led to the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing where 241 American servicemen were killed.
Following that assignment, he returned to the White House and was appointed President Reagan’s National Security Advisor. In that post, he was responsible for the development of U.S. foreign and defense policy. He was a supporter of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI or “Star Wars”).
The Iran-Contra affair involved secretly selling arms to Iran and funneling the money to support the Contras in Nicaragua. As National Security Adviser, McFarlane urged Reagan to negotiate the arms deal with Iranian intermediaries, but McFarlane says that by late December 1985 he was urging Reagan to end the arms shipments. McFarlane resigned on December 4, 1985, citing that he wanted to spend more time with his family; he was replaced by Admiral John Poindexter.
The Iran-Contra affair came to light in November 1986 and a political scandal ensued. Disheartened, feeling abused by his former colleagues and in depression over the embarrassment for the president that his actions had contributed to, McFarlane attempted suicide with an overdose of 25 to 30 valium tablets  on February 9, 1987, saying he had failed his country.
In 1988, he pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress as part of the Iran-Contra cover-up. He was sentenced to two years’ probation and a $20,000 fine but was pardoned by President George H.W. Bush on Christmas Eve 1992.