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Ronald Reagan caused 241 Marines to be brutally killed in Lebanon in 1983

The Hezbollah bomb leveled the barracks and 241 Maines died. Reagan cut and ran. AP photo

… Reagan forbid the marines "to engage in combat"

The policy was misguided. U.S. Marines became sitting ducks because of a horrible policy in Lebanon in 1983 that former Gen. Colin Powell called “goofy from the beginning.”

As a result, 241 marines were killed in a horrible explosion in Lebanon, and Ronald Reagan deserved to be condemned for his woeful policy.

Where were the Republicans who are today complaining about the U.S. exit from Afghanistan that resulted in the deaths of 13 marines?

Silent, just as they were when he allowed his administration to give arms to Iran with the money to go to the Contras in Central America though it was also illegal?

How did this happen?

Seven years ago, on the 30th anniversary of the debacle in Lebanon, Foreign Policy magazine wrote about the errors made by Reagan,

Thirty years ago this week, President Ronald Reagan made perhaps the most purposeful and consequential foreign-policy decision of his presidency. Though he never said so explicitly, he ended America’s military commitment to a strategic mistake that was peripheral to America’s interests. Three-and-a-half months after the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 U.S. military personnel — and after repeatedly pledging not to do so — Reagan ordered the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Lebanon.

As Gen. Colin Powell later aptly summarized this military misadventure: “Beirut wasn’t sensible and it never did serve a purpose. It was goofy from the beginning” …

There was strong disagreement within the Reagan administration about potential U.S. involvement, with the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously opposed to the deployment, and the National Security Council and State Department deeply enthusiastic. Subsequently, the Joint Chiefs developed a range of options for America’s participation in the MNF, including sending up to 63,000 U.S. troops to Lebanon to disarm the militias, and enforce the peace in territory under the control of Syria and Israel.

Ultimately, without congressional approval, Reagan authorized the deployment of what was seen as a limited mission of some 1,800 Marines, who joined French, Italian, and later British troops. Reagan claimed: “Their mission is to provide an interposition force at agreed locations,” but “in carrying out this mission, the American force will not engage in combat.”

Micah Zenko, “When Reagan Cut and Ran,” Foreign Policy, February 7, 2014

“Will not engage in combat”? That alone could be grounds for impeachment.

So, after the killing of the Marines, what did Reagan do?

He cut and ran. It was one of the most gutless responses by any president in history. Yet, the Republicans still try to call Reagan a great foreign policy president and even credit him with bringing down the Soviet Union, which was a joke.

What happened in Lebanon was not funny.

Worst attack since Iwo Jima

This was how bad things were in that attack,

Around dawn on October 23, 1983, I was in Beirut, Lebanon, when a suicide bomber drove a truck laden with the equivalent of twenty-one thousand pounds of TNT into the heart of a U.S. Marine compound, killing two hundred and forty-one servicemen. The U.S. military command, which regarded the Marines’ presence as a non-combative, “peace-keeping mission,” had left a vehicle gate wide open, and ordered the sentries to keep their weapons unloaded.

The only real resistance the suicide bomber had encountered was a scrim of concertina wire. When I arrived on the scene a short while later to report on it for the Wall Street Journal, the Marine barracks were flattened. From beneath the dusty, smoking slabs of collapsed concrete, piteous American voices could be heard, begging for help. Thirteen more American servicemen later died from injuries, making it the single deadliest attack on American Marines since the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Jane Mayer, “Ronald Reagan’s Benghazi,” The New Yorker, May 5, 2014

Yes, remember the outrage when Republicans tried to blame Hillary Clinton for the loss of four state department personnel in Benghazi?

Now, the blame is being placed on President Biden for the messy exit from America’s longest war. His advisers in the Pentagon should be removed. They failed miserably.

However, the goal is an admirable one. We are getting out of a war that Republicans George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld lost back in the mid-2000s.

Reagan deserved to be impeached for Iran-Contra. For this, he deserves to be condemned.

Neither happened.

Which was criminal.

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