So, What's the Problem Now?

Lebanon: 1982-1984
by John H. Kelly

On October 23, just after dawn 241 Marines died when a truck packed with explosives blew up a Marine barracks at Beirut International Airport. At that same moment a similar explosion blew up a French military barracks a few kilometers away, killing 56 French troops. The October 23 suicide bombers used the identical technique that had been used six months earlier to blow up the American embassy. The same technique would be used again on December 12 in Kuwait against the American and French embassies. It would be used again in September, 1984, in East Beirut at the American embassy, with 13 deaths. We did not learn very fast.

President Reagan addressed a grieving America the day following the tragedy of the 241 dead Marines. He said that the reasons U.S. forces must stay in Lebanon were clear: "We have vital interests in Lebanon . . . world peace . . . withdrawal of foreign forces . . . restore sovereignty . . . peace throughout the Middle East."[50] There were hearings in the Congress. Shultz declared: "If we are driven out of Lebanon, radical and rejectionist elements will have scored a major victory."[51]

President Reagan gave a nationally televised speech to the nation and once again tried to define the mission of the Marines:

"What exactly is the operational mission of the Marines? The answer is, to secure a peace in Beirut, to keep order in their sector, and to prevent the area from becoming a battlefield. Our Marines are not just sitting in the airport. Part of their task is to guard that airport. Because of their presence, the airport has remained operational."[52]


 In mid-November France launched an air strike against Iranian Revolutionary Guard positions in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. This was retaliation for the bombing of the French barracks on October 23. On December 4, U.S. Navy aircraft from the Sixth Fleet launched a sizable air strike on Syrian air defense positions in Lebanon which had fired upon U.S. reconnaissance aircraft. Two U.S. aircraft were shot down, one pilot was killed, and one was taken prisoner by the Syrians. On the same day, shelling from the Shuf killed eight Marines and wounded two. Sporadic fighting continued through December and January.

In January, 1984, new hearings were held in the Congress. The administration continued to insist that it would not be forced to withdraw the Marines. In a January 22 television interview Secretary Shultz was asked if the Syrians believed they could outwait the United States. Shultz responded that Syrian Foreign Minister Abdel Halim Khaddam had said to American negotiators: "The United States is short of breath. You can always wait them out."[53]

In early February the Lebanese Army attempted to move into West and South Beirut against Druze and Muslim militia forces supported by Syria. Intense fighting broke out and lasted for weeks. U.S. Naval gunfire continued to support the Lebanese Army, but the situation of the Marines became daily more hazardous. On February 7, President Reagan announced that he had asked for a plan for redeployment of the Marines from Beirut to ships offshore.[54] On February 7 and 8, more than 100 U.S. embassy employees and all embassy dependents were evacuated from Beirut. On Sunday, February 26, redeployment of the last Marines serving with the MNF from their positions in Beirut to ships offshore was completed. On March 5, the Government of Lebanon announced that it had canceled the May 17 (1983) agreement providing for the withdrawal of Israeli troops and the end of the state of war with Israel

Home Current 'Toons
Today's "Change of Address"

add this to your website

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
-- Theodore Roosevelt
The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.
Joseph Stalin

    E_Mail Pablo  Website owned and operated by Paul "Pablo" Wilsbach, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, Earth,Solar System, Milky Way, Universe.


Who Made This

(serious photography)