On October 23, 1983, the multinational peacekeeper barracks in Beirut, Lebanon was attacked by two suicide truck bombers. The terrorist group Islamic Jihad, actually Hezbollah, working in conjunction with the governments of Iran and Syria were responsible.
The attack killed 220 U.S. Marines, 18 Navy sailors, and 3 Army soldiers, along with 58 French troops and 6 civilians.
The attack had the desired effect our enemies intended. President Reagan reconsidered U.S. involvement in the Lebanese Civil War and pulled our people out. Many Americans, myself included, like to remember Reagan fondly for standing tough against the Soviets and ending the Cold War, but we tend to ignore this horrible day and other things that might tarnish his image. You can spin it to say that Reagan made the wise choice – that we never should have been there in the first place – but he is the one who put us there, so this was either a failure of nerve or a failure of judgement, or both.
For decades now the invocation of Reagan has become an all purpose seal of approval that you are a good conservative, as if mentioning his name proves he would be in solidarity with you and whatever you want to upload as right thinking policy. It’s obligatory that most every Republican running for any office, and certainly any Republican running for President, must drop Reagan stories, Reagan quotes, or their personal connection to the Reagan Administration. On today’s regretful anniversary I can’t help but think of how these same Republicans have been up in arms for years about President Obama and Secretary Clinton’s mishandling of the September 11, 2012 attack on America in Benghazi, Libya, by the terrorist group Ansar al-Sharia.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to defend Obama or Clinton’s actions; it was a very poorly mishandled affair. I’m simply asking, “What if we held Reagan to the same standard?” Wouldn’t we still be holding Congressional Hearings trying to get to the bottom of Beirut? And this is exactly what I’m sick of; the lack of intellectual honesty in politics. It’s so red team, blue team, we’re right, you’re wrong, we’re smart, you’re stupid, we’re good, you’re evil, and the standards by which we judge ourselves will never match the standards by which we judge the other.
I’m not sure how we get out of this trap, or if it is even possible at this point, but I do hope that we can take a moment to realize we are in one.