Thursday, October 23, 2008

The 1983 Failure - That Haunts

Robert C. McFarlane, US national security adviser from 1983 to 1985, reveals.

His story is

The background:-

Then, less than 24 hours later I was awakened again, this time by the duty officer at the White House situation room, who reported that United States Marine barracks in Lebanon had been attacked by Iranian-trained Hezbollah terrorists with heavy losses. Again, I called the president, and he prepared for an immediate return to Washington to deal with both crises.

Today is the 25th anniversary of that bombing, which killed 241 Americans who were part of a multinational peacekeeping force (a simultaneous attack on the French base killed 58 paratroopers). The attack was planned over several months at Hezbollah’s training camp in the Bekaa Valley in central Lebanon. Once American intelligence confirmed who was responsible and where the attack had been planned, President Reagan approved a joint French-American air assault on the camp — only to have the mission aborted just before launching by the secretary of defense, Caspar Weinberger. Four months later, all the marines were withdrawn, capping one of the most tragic and costly policy defeats in the brief modern history of American counterterrorism operations.

And a conclusion:-

One could draw several conclusions from this episode. To me the most telling was the one reached by Middle Eastern terrorists, that the United States had neither the will nor the means to respond effectively to a terrorist attack

And the disclosure:-

Secretary Weinberger...felt strongly that American interests in the Middle East lay primarily in the region’s oil, and that to assure access to that oil we ought never to undertake military operations that might result in Muslim casualties and put at risk Muslim goodwill.

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