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President Reagan's commitment of Peacekeepers in Lebanon, 1983

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Technical Report,01 Jun 2014,01 May 2015

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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The attacks of September 11, 2001 stand as a stark waypoint in the United States involvement in the Middle East. For a generation of Americans, these attacks, unanticipated by the general population, mark a beginning point in US efforts to combat Islamic extremism. For an earlier generation, however, the 23 October 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, resulting in the death of 241 Americans, served as a similar waypoint. While these perceptions of the general public are understandable, they are incorrect. America has been involved in the Arab world since just after the American revolution, when its merchant vessels and their crews, newly bereft via national independence of the protection of the British Navy, became prey for the pirates of the Barbary Coast. Interestingly, Americans at that time were asking the same questions, as were their countrymen after Beirut and the September 11 attacks how could this have happened In response to Israels 1982 invasion of Lebanon, President Reagan committed peacekeeping forces to Lebanon in 1982. He did so with little understanding of the operational environment, failing to account for the influence exerted by external agents such as Iran and Syria, and Reagans policy was ultimately unsuccessful in facilitating a lasting peace in Lebanon. To say the long-term regional instability that followed the Israeli invasion was the result of the failed US-led peacekeeping mission is unjustified. However, poorly formulated policy by the Reagan administration resulted in unnecessary US casualties in Lebanon. The Reagan administration also missed an opportunity to develop a more stable Lebanon by disengaging almost completely with the country after withdrawing the Marines in 1984. Lacking a clear visualization of the operational environment, the administration sent US forces into Lebanon with no clear mission.

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