Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it." — Churchill

Marine Barracks Bombing, Beirut, Lebanon, October 23, 1983

Historical facts that Republicans fail to remember: In that attack on the barracks, the death toll was 241 American servicemen: 220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers. Some 60 other Americans were wounded. It represented at the time, the deadliest single-day death toll for the Marine Corps since World War II and invasion of Iwo Jima, or the deadliest single-day death toll for our military since the first day of the Vietnam War's Tet Offensive in 1968, or even the deadliest single attack on Americans overseas since World War II. In short, it was bad, very bad.

Recall the events leading up and including that event and ask: "What was the GOP outrage back then" events all under the eyes of President Ronald W. Reagan? 

 April 18, 1983, Islamic terrorists attacked the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. Sixty-three people were killed, including 17 Americans, eight of whom worked for the CIA.

: Five months later, in September 1983, terrorists struck again and during a lengthy air assault from nearby artillerymen, two Marines stationed at the Beirut airport were killed. 

 October 23, 1983, the Marine barracks in Beirut was cratered after a 5-ton truck driven by a suicide bomber and carrying the equivalent of 12,000 pounds of TNT exploded outside. The numbers are above in the introduction.

President Reagan had sent 1,800 Marines to Beirut as part of a larger peacekeeping mission following the June 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the PLO’s withdrawal from the country. At the time, some national security experts including some members of Reagan's administration warned that the Marines were vulnerable to attack. 

In the aftermath, Marine Colonel Timothy J. Geraghty, Commander of all Marines in Beirut, said, “It didn't take a military expert to realize that our troops had been placed in an indefensible situation.”

In essence there was no real American military retaliation for the Beirut bombing. The Marines were moved offshore where they could not be targeted. Then on February 7, 1984, President Reagan ordered the Marines to begin withdrawal from Lebanon. This was completed on February 26, four months after the barracks bombing; the rest of the multinational force was withdrawn by April that same year. It is noted that Mr. Reagan had pledged "to keep U.S. Forces in Lebanon." That proved to be false.

Further, what retaliation for the attacks that did occur was that France launched an air strike in the Beqaa Valley against alleged Islamic Revolutionary Guards positions. 

President Reagan assembled his national security team and planned to target the Sheik Abdullah barracks in Baalbek, Lebanon, which housed Iranian Revolutionary Guards believed to be training Hezbollah militants. A joint American-French air assault on the camp where the bombing was planned was also approved by Reagan and French president François Mitterrand. However, Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger lobbied successfully against the missions, because at the time he was not certain that Iran was behind the attack.So, basically we did nothing... Oh, well not nothing... 

Just two days after the barracks bombing, on October 25, 1983, Mr. Reagan ordered the invasion of Grenada to rescue some Med students supposedly in danger from Cuban troops. That operation was code named: Urgent Fury. It was the first major military operation conducted by U. S. Forces since the Vietnam War. Several days of fighting commenced, resulting in a U. S. victory.  Then in mid-December, after a new government was appointed by the Governor-General, U. S. Forces withdrew. We had 19 KIA and some 116 WIA.  

One month after the invasion, a congressional study group concluded that the invasion had been justified, as most members felt that U.S. students at the university near a contested runway could have been taken hostage as U.S. diplomats in Iran had been four years previously.

Amazing how the GOP selectively forgets facts like this. Despite the chronic terror attacks on a U.S. embassy and related facilities, and the three separate assaults that claimed nearly 270 American lives in the span of just six months in 1983 (posted above), President Reagan and those around him are remembered as patriots in the Grenada operation. But, for President Obama and his officials – well, they are supposedly guilty of the unforgivable, treasonous crime of Benghazi.

That contrast between then and today is striking – it says a lot not only about the double standard used to grade Republican and Democratic failures, but also about the vicious way conservative commentators now effortlessly demonize public policy opponents. Benghazi has become such a momentous touchstone, conservatives insist, because Americans lives were lost at the hands of terrorists. 

The GOP even claimed that Obama reacted callously to the news by flying to a fundraiser in Las Vegas the following day, apparently an unpardonable sin. Yet, after the fourth deadly Beirut bombing, September 20, 1984, Mr. Reagan refused to curtail his re-election campaign appearances for just one day, even though he enjoyed an insurmountable lead in the polls. On and on the hypocrisy goes by ugly GOP-Conservatives railing against the Benghazi security under Obama while conveniently ignoring Embassy security under Mr. Reagan. 

Why do you suppose that is?  Nevertheless, it is smart to reflect and recall history and the facts. Apparently not for the Grand Old Party, however.

No comments: