October 23rd 1983. The bombing of the US Marine Barracks in Beirut Lebanon. 241 American servicemen killed and 60 others wounded.
The Marine sentries on duty were operating under level 4 rules of engagement. Which meant no magazines in their rifles, and no round in the chamber.
Just like recent events congress held hearings, and determined security to have been woefully inadequate. But unlike recent events the hearings were held behind closed doors- so as not to make the stupid mistake of outing intelligence resources and facilities like the GOP did recently.
And of course, two days later, Reagan ordered the invasion of Grenada, deflecting public attention to the events in Lebanon.
And of course, just 6 months prior we had seen the bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut, claiming 63 American lives.
Many of the followers of Ayn Rand (which I mention here has Paul Ryan is a major devotee) believe these actions were the beginning of an Islamic war against christians and the west.
But as always, things are complicated. So let’s look at some of the factors that spurred these events.
Iran. An issue then as now. An Iranian militiant Islamist group claimed responsibility for the embassy bombing. And some believe Iran had a hand in the barracks bombing. Of course, at this point Iran was in the midst of the Iran-Iraq war, and had recently warned against countries helping it’s enemies. And the US congress had just cut off arms sales to Iran, while extending $2.5 Billion in aid, and arms, to Iraq. And of course, less then a year later we would see the beginnings of the Iran-Contra scandal, with reagan, with the aid of Israel, illegally supplying weapons to Iran.
Another factor, in the barracks bombing, was US military involvement in Lebanon. While the US was supposed to be an impartial participant in a multi-national force trying to restore order during Lebanons civil war, it became directly involved. Less then a month before the attacks the US, in opposition to the Marine General commanding the forces in Beirut, provided direct naval gunfire support in week long operations in the lebanese civil war, which resulted in the deaths of many muslim civilians. The US had just become a direct participant in the Lebanese civil war.
Likewise there was growing resentment at what was seen as overt US support for the Marronite Catholics in Lebanon, and their attacks on muslim and druze populations, along with the support for the previous years Israelli invasion of Lebanon, aligned with these same catholics, and resulting with the same attacks on muslim and druze populations.
Another factor in the embassy bombing had been the Sabra and Shatilla massacres. Part of the Israelli invasion of Lebanon the year before (september 1982). While the numbers actually killed are in dispute (ranging from a little under 1,000 to over 3,500) the basic facts are not. The Israeli Defense Forces surrounded the palestinina refugee camps composed of palestinian and shiite muslim civilians. The camps were locked down, and the Israeli forces provided the firing of flares at night to illuninate the slaughter. Which was carried out by a lebanese right wing marronite christian militia. (as a historical note- the Israeli commision set up to investigate this massagre found that israeli forces new of, and failed to try to stop the massacre, and held Prime Minister Ariel Sharon directly responsible- leading to his resignation).
So…what is my point in all this? America has been making similar mistakes, with far worse outcomes, for decades. They have never been so politicized for party gain as they are today. The investigations have never been as politicized as they are today, nor done with such callousness and indifference towards our nations security for the sole purpose of political gain as they are today. And america still fails to take responsibility for it’s actions. Or to admit the role it’s actions, and that of its “Allies” plays in the radicilization of a subset of the islamic world.
here, try this expierment.