Attack on U.S. Marine Compound in Beirut Airport in 1983 Internationalism Term Paper

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American Middle East Unilateralism

Attack on U.S. Marine Compound in Beirut Airport in 1983

In 1983, 241 United States Marines were killed in Beirut, Lebanon (CBS News, 2003). On the world stage, the United States, under the Reagan administration, stood accused of attempting to stand alone against the world, unilateralism, and had lost many of its supporters in the United Nations because of foreign policy that, according to UN representatives, reflected its unilateralism (Johansen, Robert, 1986, p. 610). The United States stood criticized for its invasion of Grenada, and for its attempts to unilaterally bring about political change in the world (Johansen, p. 610).

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In 1981, Israel destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor near Baghdad in a preemptive attack.(33) There was general condemnation in the United Nations, though the United States ultimately blocked inclusion of the word "aggression" in the drafting of a Security Council Resolution.(34) Within a decade, many of the states who had voted to condemn Israel in the General Assembly, including many of the members of the Arab League, must surely have revised their view of the action. Scholars still debate the lawfulness of the Israeli action,(35) though I believe that now the general consensus is that it was a lawful and justified resort to unilateral, preemptive action. The attack is also instructive in that it cautions scholars to defer inferences about international decisions with respect to the lawfulness of unilateral preemptive actions until a certain period of time has elapsed. In the nature of these attacks, the targeted state is often able to command instant sympathy, while the preemptive attacker may require more time to publicize its intelligence information and elaborate its justifications, both of which may ultimately prove to be more persuasive to the international decision process (Reisman, W. Michael, 1999, p. 3)."

TOPIC: Term Paper on Attack on U.S. Marine Compound in Beirut Airport in 1983 Internationalism Assignment

The United States' foreign policy approach under the Reagan administration drew attention to the United States as a threat to the goals of the forces Islamic fundamentalism that were prevalent in the Middle East in 1981, but not as well defined in analysis of the region as they are today. However, it was America's position that drew America to the attention of the terrorists, and what was perceived as an action limited to Middle East relations, had been misinterpreted at that time, and not recognized as terrorists focusing in America as a threat to Islamic fundamentalism.

America's policy in the Middle East was explained by President Reagan when he addressed the nation, explaining that the United States would be part of a peacekeeping force in Lebanon to help bring stability to the region in order that autonomy talks with regard to the Palestinians could be conducted (, video, 1982). The peace process between Israel and its Arab neighbors would be facilitated by this, Reagan said. Reagan said the Camp David framework was the only way to proceed, to ensure the successful fulfillment of the Egyptian-Israeli peace. Autonomy talks were the second step; and, in 1982, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assassinated, delaying the process outlined in the Camp David Accord between Israel and Egypt (, video, 1982). This is how United States Marines came to be in Beirut in 1983, in the role of international peacekeeping forces.

It shows, too, that America was taking a very proactive role in identifying the issues that President Reagan perceived to be mitigating factors in achieving peace in the Middle East (, 1982). Reagan felt it necessary to require the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) leave Lebanon (, 1982). That it was essential to the stabilization of the region and had to be done before autonomy talks could proceed (, 1982).

As a result of Camp David, Egyptian recognition of Israel was reciprocated by a staged Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula. The final stage was completed on 25 April 1982, under the watchful eye of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), to which the United States was a contributor.

Left as unresolved issues of the Camp David agenda, however, were agreements on the political status of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Taba (Hallenbeck, Ralph a., 1991, p. 1)."

America's broad Middle East policies described by President Reagan, which had the sound of being a proactive policy on the Middle East, if not a unilateral one; had posed a threat to forces in the Middle East who did not want to see peace talks between Egypt and Israel or between Israel and the Palestinians commence.

President Reagan was criticized by analysts and scholars for his unilateral approach to attempting to solve the problems in the Middle East.

Despite the Reagan administration's military buildup and muscle flexing, its policies have not made the country more secure. No level of military spending can any longer render a country invulnerable to attack or assure its access to vital resources; indeed, greater preparedness may even court disaster. And certainly no amount of weaponry can buy a nation economic security or ensure a liveable environment; the evidence, instead, suggests the opposite is true. If there has been anything for us to learn from the failure of America's militarized, go-it-alone approach to world policy, it is that real security can be achieved only through international cooperation -- through multilateral processes of goal setting, coordination, and dispute settlement (Johansen, Robert, 1986, p. 601)."

In 1982 Bashir Gemayel became the president of Lebanon (Winslow, Charles, 1996, p. 234). It is easy to understand the enthusiasm that Reagan and Israel Prime Minister Menachem Begin must have felt with the election of Gemayel, perceiving as young and malleable (Winslow, p. 235). However, Begin and his Ariel Sharon reduced themselves to bullying Gemayel with their attitude that it was either a complete peace treaty between Lebanon and Israel, or the talks would breakdown (Winslow, p. 235). This prompted Reagan to send U.S. Secretary of State Casper Weinberger to Lebanon to attempt to mediate the talks.

Everything! Talks between the Israelis and the Lebanese had not gone well. Begin and Sharon wanted a peace treaty and were not above bullying the young Bashir, treating him like a servant boy. Hafiz al-Assad then declared that he would take military action against Lebanon if the new President signed a peace treaty with Israel. Bashir had not strived so mightily to be President of Lebanon only to be batted back and forth like a ping-pong ball. To these two leaders whose armies occupied his country, he conveyed his determination to be independent of them. On September 13, three days after the Marines had left, the Israelis conducted air strikes against the Syrians in the Biq? Valley. Bashir wanted power and independence; his neighbors wanted him to choose sides. The country he headed, after all, was only the battleground for their wars (Winslow, p. 235)."

Just one day later a bomb took the life of Bashir Gemayel, and Lebanon was once again reduced to a state of chaos (Winslow, p. 235).

In its attempt to influence the politics in the Middle East, the U.S. had essentially only brought about a new wave of violence, and had drawn attention to itself in a way that put America at risk.

Amin Gemayel, Bashir's brother, took the role of Lebanon's president (Winslow, p. 235).

President Gemayel, instead of using...the strength he derived from his American backing to forge a political entente with the Muslim and Druze leaders of West Beirut and make real national unity possible-at a time when they had yet to side with Syria and were open to compromises on moderate terms-he began to behave with typical tribal logic, which says, When I am weak, how can I compromise? When I am strong, why should I compromise (Winslow, p. 236)?"

By the time the president addressed the American public, he reported that the "evacuation" of the PLO from Lebanon had been completed (, 1982). The civil war in Lebanon had come to a stand still (, 1982). American Marines were performing a vital role in the area as a presence, representative of what would presumably be the world's expression of desire to see peace in the Middle East. Because the PLO had been evacuated from Lebanon, the Marines were ordered to leave Lebanon; but that changed when Palestinian refugees came under attack in the region (, 1982). Ordered back, the Marines re-established themselves in the Marine barracks in Beirut (, 1982).

Then, on October 23, 1983, a stolen truck was packed with explosives, driven by two suicide bombers who crashed through the gates of the Marine barracks and detonated the explosives (CBS News, 1983). CBS News reported that court documents read in U.S. District Court described the blast that occurred as the longest non-nuclear explosion ever detonated on the planet (CBS News, 1983). The blast was so powerful, CBS reported, ripped locked doors off a building standing 256 feet away from the site of detonation (CBS News, 1983).

All the windows at the airport control tower, half a mile away, shattered. A crater eight feet deep was carved into the earth, and 15… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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