October 25, 2013

"To me the Beirut bombing started it all. The person they said was responsible was (Osama) Bin Laden's mentor, from what I've been told."

Said Kim Carlson, the sister of Jesse J. Ellison of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin, who died at the age of 19 in the bombing of the U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. The 30th anniversary of the bombing was Wednesday.

"I kind of held a lot of resentment against President (Ronald) Reagan at the time because he didn't take any action. It makes you wonder had they taken action would that have made (terrorists) think twice before coming after us with all the other bombings. But maybe it would have made it worse."...
Reagan sent Marines to Lebanon in 1982 on a peacekeeping mission during the Lebanese Civil War. Six months before the barracks bombing, the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was hit by a suicide bomber, killing 63 people, including 17 Americans. The Islamic Jihadist Organization claimed credit for the bombings as well as kidnappings and other terrorist activities and demanded that Americans leave Lebanon.....

The Marine barracks bombing helped solidify what would later become informally known as the Powell-Weinberger doctrine: American troops would not go anywhere unless there was a clearly defined objective, a willingness to send a massive force and the American people were solidly behind the action, [said UW-Madison history professor John Hall].


The Drill SGT said...

1.Is a vital national security interest threatened?
2.Do we have a clear attainable objective?
3.Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
4.Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
5.Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
6.Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
7.Is the action supported by the American people?
8.Do we have genuine broad international support?

Robert Cook said...

Drill SGT:

That's a very good list of questions. How regrettable that we seem never to have asked ourselves--or answered--any of them before initiating virtually any of our military involvements in at least the past half-century.

(That first question is problematic, however, as virtually anything can be defined as a "vital national security interest." "Is our action in defense of a current or imminent military attack on our country?" would be a better metric.)

Hagar said...

Reagan sent the F-111's to bomb Gaddafi as much as a warning to Assad that pulling out of Lebanon was a reversible decision if he kept pushing as it was to punish Gaddafi, and Assad got the point and noticeably quieted down.

Oso Negro said...

Perhaps the Reagan-era item that bothered me the most were the Rules of Engagement for the Marines deployed in Lebanon. I am sorry, but you put men in Indian country, you permit them the means of self-defense.

Per the Marine Corps Gazette:


Until 23 October 1983, the ROE specifically stated that:

When on post or mobile or foot patrol, keep a loaded magazine in the weapon. Weapons will be on safe, with no rounds in the chamber.
Do not chamber a round unless instructed to do so by a commissioned officer unless you must act in immediate self-defense where deadly force is authorized.
Keep ammunition for crew-served weapons readily available but not loaded in the weapon. Weapons will be on safe at all times.
The perimeter guards at the BLT building on the morning of 23 October were in full compliance with these rules and were unable to shoot fast enough to disable or stop the bomber.

- See more at: http://www.mca-marines.org/gazette/beirut-1983-have-we-learned-lesson#sthash.ldgh6FCQ.dpuf

Kirk Parker said...


Your 9:06am is amazingly disingenuous, even by your usual standard.

YES, we have asked ourselves these questions; you just don't like the answers.

Inga said...

Can you imagine what would be said if those rules regarding weapons were in place and such a bombing happened under Obama? Especially if Obama wouldn't have retaliated, as Reagan didn't.

Robert Cook said...


"Your 9:06am is amazingly disingenuous, even by your usual standard.

"YES, we have asked ourselves these questions; you just don't like the answers."

Uh, no, we haven't. Or we haven't been honest in our answers--which is tantamount to not actually having asked ourselves the questions--as had we been, we would have initiated or involved ourselves in none of the wars and "police actions" and other military actions in the last half century that we have been and are involved in.

Of course, you're probably one of those who defines "national security interests" as "any excuse we want to use to assert our power and dominance over the rest of the world in service of gaining possession of or control over the world's essential natural resources," (i.e, mainly oil, but whatever may come to be seen as essential in future even if it is presently considered worthless).

Robert Cook said...

Kirk, if you reread those questions, it's self-evident we have never asked them of ourselves as the self-apparent answer to all of them is "No."

wildswan said...

I think those questions were asked and answered in the past for the various wars and engagements. Staff college planning and assessments did that. And I think the situations changed when the shooting started. The enemy would not conform to expectations. That was always the way.

What has changed recently is that no one trusts Obama to run a war, that's why nothing was done about Syria. And we were right, the man didn't know enough to ask if testing was done for a website launch in a timely manner. (And people believe Obama when he says he knows what the Iranians are really doing? Has he asked? Are the Iranians maybe ??? lying??? to the one they call the Great Satan??? Hmm.)

Kirk Parker said...


You're right that nobody trusts Obama to run a war--but also, and more importantly, Syria is a "can't the both lose?" situation. Which side would you pick?

Jonathan Card said...

This may not be helpful, but I think those questions were asked, Mr. Cook, at least in the Iraq War. The problem was the answers were not adequately communicated, and that's an execution question. Rumsfeld recently gave an interview (I don't remember where) where he said his strategy was based on an immediate withdrawal, and the State Department was assuming an extended occupation from the beginning. When you complicate that with the press filtering a lot of things (press people are often not paying attention the correct things, like Bush saying from the beginning that the War on Terror was going to be like another Cold War, not a quick one, or removing Sadaam Hussein being seen as a clear objective by a lot of the Left, but I remember Ann Coulter distinctly describing that as an acceptable worst-case scenario) you get a lot of trouble.

I may not know much, but I'm pretty sure that a lot of us don't really know how much those questions were asked or not.