Libya and Lebanon present a microcosm and a mesocosm for military actions in the Middle East. Libya and Lebanon scale close together, for a "Lessons Learned" exercise, plus the both of them involve militias. Best of it, you get a head-to-head comparison of Ronald Reagan with Barack Obama. Here's the head counts:
63 -- victims at the embassy 18-April-1983Going up against Arab irregulars was a new problem in the 1980s. By the time Obama gets to the problem in Libya, supporting dictators has faded. With Libya you get to almost an exact opposite to Reagan's suicide-bombing disaster and the follow-on full blown "cut and run" surrender.
241 - victims at the Marine barracks 23-October-1983
58 -- victims at the French barracks 23-October-1983
30 -- victims at Tyre for the Israelis 3-November-1983
Plainly, Iraq is in the macrocosm class for military adventures. The medical statistic Total Extra Deaths, collected for Iraq, tops out at 1,400,000 lives. This tells us that Iraq was a different war altogether. It was an example of "Empire Heavy." It was a smaller version of Vietnam.
Reagan was president when the Marine barracks for Beirut was destroyed in 1983. His policies had made enemies among Arabs and Persians, Sunni and Shiite. Nobody over there had much reason to like us, including Likudnik Israelis. You would never know it.
What stands out, researching Libya and Lebanon, is the extent to which media and Internet coverage are dominated today by American conservatives and how much they are still head over heals in love with Ronald Reagan.
Conservatives love this man so much that their hounds in corporate media rewrite history and simplify stories to match their fantasies. Sheer bloodiness by Americans and their favored dictators has no part in their timeline. The hounds lie about Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982, about our ally Saddam Hussein and the Iran-Iraq war, about the Muslim religion and about Muslims generally. The one identifiable product is confusion.
This is no way to inform "We the People" in a democracy.
Lebanon is reflected with one phrase: "They Came In Peace." Arrive as United Nations Peacekeepers, sure thing. But then, contrary to today's conservatives, Reagan approved unloading with this:
USS New Jersey fired as many as 300 "flying Volkswagen" 16-inchers a day. 2700-pound artillery rounds. 500-meter casualty radius. Smoked one village after another.
April 18, 1983. The American ambassador, Robert Dillard, had opposed Israel's invasion in 1982, objecting that Arafat and Fatah were not a serious threat. The embassy in Beirut was half-destroyed by a 1-ton thermobaric truck bomb. 63 victims.
You will not hear that it took six months for Reagan's White House, his area manager Robert McFarlane, the military brass, and the analytical teams at CIA/DoD to forget the embassy bombing. The Marine barracks was undefended.
October 23rd. A 20-ton truck bomb annihilated the Marine barracks. Same day and then 10 days later, our allies the French and then the Israelis down in Tyre were hit with similar PETN-and-liquid-butane truck bombs. Between these three large-scale attacks, loss of life came to another 329 people. The barracks building:
Pancaked to this:
Threat-anticipation had gone out of style.
President Reagan's response is a classic combination of unconscious racial hatred and ignorance:
"But I think we should all recognize that these deeds make so evident the bestial nature of those who would assume power if they could have their way and drive us out of that area; that we must be more determined than ever that they cannot take over that vital and strategic area of the Earth, or for that matter, any other part of the Earth."
-- October 23, 1983
A battleship is Peacekeeping; truck bombs are barbaric. His National Security Council had wanted to 'teach a lesson" to the Arab Lebanese. A couple of them, including McFarlane, got promotions.
Today conservatives blame Iran and (I kid you not...) Hezbollah. Rational Western analysis gets tossed in the laps of straw dog Libruls "who favor compromise with militants who seek a worldwide Islamic caliphate and the imposition of a strict Islamic order on their fellow Muslim and non-Muslim citizens." That's the benighted Judith Miller at City Journal.
Hezbollah did not exist until 1985. Apparently not one of the righties' Senators or Congressmen, pundits, WSJ writers, et.al. know that.
How's this: Iran and the Hezzies are Shiite. They oppose any and all notions of a Caliphate.
Also, in 1983, Reagan was backing Saddam Hussein with billions of dollars in weapons for his war with Iran. Why would Iran not have killed a few Americans? They were at war with us. They deserve revenge as much as anybody.
America and the other countries stuck in Ariel Sharon's 1982-1984 "tar pit" paid blood for the experience. We should to try to learn something. Busting up righties is not as important. They make cartoons of themselves.
Won't hurt any of you, to know a little more about what you're talking about.
Promise you, this narrative will return to Libya. To Obama. We will get to two or three points we think deserve a priority, assuming you follow below le chignon d'orange.
We have our own "Ministry of Truth" here at DKOS. He's one guy, he breaths. He doesn't do much of the type of work that The Party in "1984" did, rewriting historical records to fit the demands of Big Brother.
Our "MoT" does not alter an Inaugural Address. Certainly not the one from January 20, 1981.
"They're in the air!" has disappeared. As by magic! The Reagan Library has altered its transcript of Ronnie's inaugural address of January 20, 1981. That was the very first announcement to America that the Iran embassy hostages had been released. It got huge applause from the crowd.
It has disappeared... because that was the fundamental deal underlying the Iran-Contra scandal -- lots of money and a few missiles to Iran to assure that the hostages were not released until Jimmy Carter left the White House.
For people who "change history" on an Inaugural Address, tampering with public information on an old war is small change.
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Corporate media entities obliterate basic History 101 facts of the last hundred years. Citizens who rely on television and print for their information should know what they are missing.
This does not exist:
-- The American embassy in Lebanon was not hit by a 1-ton thermobaric bomb on 18-April-1983. Not on television in 2012 anyway.
-- Israel did not invade Lebanon in 1982.
-- And this non-invasion did not happen over strenuous objections from Ambassador Robert Sherwood Dillon.
-- And Dillon, who may not even have existed if you ask the television, had not been a career C.I.A. guy and he certainly did not predict that Ariel Sharon's invasion would destabilize the country.
-- Dropping 2700-pound naval shells on Shiite and Druze villagers didn't happen.
-- Revenge is not a common motive among human beings. Iranians wouldn't want revenge for their people getting killed with American weapons. Shiite and Druze villagers would roll over too.
-- "Peacekeeper" doesn't end where artillery shells fall.
-- "They Came In Peace" is not a double-speak lie. It was not put together to spoof the families of the Marines and other service personnel who got pancaked:
Robert McFarlane got the decision to turn loose the USS New Jersey. He kept that process secret between his staff and the White House. No one asked critical questions. No one paid attention to what Dillon or Department of State had provided earlier.
None of these basic background facts exist in the television world. Nothing ties together.
There are no facts on television that lead this democracy to understand what has been done in its name. Even the one thing that was true -- the "Peacekeeper" tag -- had been made untrue for hundreds of villages by the time of the Marine barracks bombing.
The overall mission was to remove Muammar Gaddafi. We know how that distresses authoritarians, seeing a dictator shot. The country has 5,600,000 people. For putting together a democracy, Libyans score 90% literacy.
Obama used drones and CIA Arab-speaking assassins instead of Reagan's battleship and his grunt-speaking Marines. Times change.
The Obama Administration ran it's operations tight and they got results. No hurry. No heavy losses going in. Everybody they wanted dead, they got dead.
Oil money goes mainly to the Libyan people. Transparent and accountable. The government looks to be working.
Here are the Benghazi action items from the Pentagon's unclassified timeline:
September 11 (Events are listed using the time in Benghazi)You are not going to get a CIA timeline. Scrub everything that is not classified and you've got a blank page. Rumor has a team of contractors out of Benghazi trying to head off militia attacks, which is how Woods and Doherty were killed.
9:42 p.m. -- Armed men begin their assault on the U.S. Consulate.
9:59 p.m. -- A surveillance drone is directed to fly over the U.S. compound, but it is unarmed.
10:32 p.m. -- The Office of the Secretary Defense and the Joint Staff are notified of the attack by the National Military Command Center at the Pentagon. "The information is quickly passed to Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey."
11 p.m. -- Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey meet with President Obama at the White House where they discuss the unfolding situation and how to respond. The meeting had been previously scheduled.
11:10 p.m. -- The surveillance drone arrives over the Benghazi facility.
11:30 p.m. -- All surviving U.S. personnel are evacuated from the consulate. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and State Department computer expert Sean Smith were killed in the initial assault.
1:30 a.m. -- A six-man security team from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli arrives in Benghazi.
5:15 a.m. -- Attackers launch assault on a second U.S. facility in Benghazi. Two former U.S. Navy SEALs acting as security contractors are killed. They are identified as Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.
7:40 a.m. -- The first wave of Americans are evacuated to Tripoli via airplane.
10 a.m. -- A second group, including those killed in the attack, are flown to Tripoli.
7:17 p.m. -- The C-17 leaves Tripoli with the American consulate personnel and the bodies of Stevens, Smith, Woods and Doherty.
Comments from militia attackers covered a lot of ground. The California video titled Innocence of Muslims or Life of Muhammed is in there. A half-dozen claims go flying around. None of that matters -- hatred for America has been perking in the Middle East since McFarlane got the Reagan White House to O.K. taking the side of the Maranist Christians in Lebanon. Then Iraq and Abu Ghraib took that up three notches. (Everybody saw the Abu Ghraib pics.)
Rima Fakih, the Muslim Miss USA from a couple years ago, made a tiny dent in the anti-American sentiment. When she appeared on magazine covers for the region, that made a difference in the major cities. Those cover shots are on walls all over the place. There's no denying that an immigrant Muslim girl can make it in the United States.
One twist in Benghazi was a claim that the film maker, Sam Bacile, is "Israeli-American." He's Egyptian. A Coptic Christian, which doesn't go over well there, either.
Give a bunch of hot heads fully automatic weapons, lots of ammo, anti-tank missiles, grenades -- sounds like Crips 'n Bloods !!
Terrorism ????? Takes some kind of a brain to do terrorism.
If it's not a local take on Crips 'n Bloods, then it's 'Bama vs. Auburn. On with your colors. Rock 'n roll !!
The Libya attack was a mob running around with guns. The next day they got run out of town. Apart from Republican paranoia, mostly faked, there's nothing there.
Lessons For Doing "Empire Light"
-- First lesson is that you cannot trust anyone to tell you about a foreign culture, who doesn't speak the language of that culture.
That eliminates NeoCons, despite that they can usually speak a skosh of Arabic. Likud partisans are anti-Arab paranoids. It's a litmus test for party membership.
Nir Rosen wrote the definitive piece on what happened and what we have forgotten about Lebanon. Lessons Unlearned in Foreign Policy, from October 29, 2009. His lessons could not be simpler:
-- "America should avoid meddling in civil wars it doesn't understand."
-- "An even simpler lesson is to leave people alone."
-- "Stop killing Muslims, and there won't be any Muslims who want to kill you."
Apart from Bill Clinton choosing not to "meddle" in Rwanda, America hasn't done much of any of that going back to Jimmy Carter. "J.C." didn't much like killing people.
With Obama, looks like we fell into the most of it like a kid falling off a log into a pond. He has to wind down Afghanistan after kissing Iraq goodbye. Otherwise the test for military intervention with drones and small team assassins is whether we are pro-democracy.
You run out of countries that have oil and need a democracy make-over pretty quickly.
Nir Rosen's blog has first-rate links and links to other links. More or less, from what you can read there, he covered the Iraq War embedded with the insurgents. And yes, he is fluent in Arabic with an Iraqi accent.
“How we Lost the War we Won” (Rolling Stone Magazine article about the Taliban) is a decent starting point.
Be prepared to give up days of your time when you get to the Iraq War.