October 23rd, 1983. Ronald Reagan was President of the United States.
What stood out then, particularly on television, was the toll of 241 dead at Marine BLT Barracks at Beirut Airport. Yet on the 30th Anniversary last week, in 2013, nothing appeared on television to commemorate those losses. Not a word on network news or the commentary shows.
These were revenge killings; for Muslims, the term "retaliation" is more appropriate. In all, four truck bombs killed 398 people to take revenge for months of Ronald Reagan using the offshore guns of the U.S. Navy to shell Lebanese villages. Those bombardments killed more than a thousand people, slaughtering Druze and Muslims indiscriminately. The technology for the bombs was provided by Iran. There, for the Iran-Iraq War, Reagan had reversed Jimmy Carter's Executive Order and taken to supplying material support for Saddam Hussein. This despite Saddam's use of nerve gas to kill tens of thousands of Iranians, including civilians.
"Teach them a lesson" from Reagan in the Oval Office had produced unanticipated consequences.
Corporate media avoid all mention of the Beirut, Lebanon "peacekeeping" invasion -- despite that the CBS program 60 Minutes is taking time tonight to replay the Benghazi attack and street riot that killed 4 on September 11, 2012.
No comparisons allowed.
Erasing the events of Lebanon 1983 also supports the long-term propaganda goal of portraying Ronald Reagan as a competent Commander in Chief. That is an important goal for conservative politics. Having Reagan seen as being good at everything is essential to claiming that he was a great president.
Early on, NBC had Reagan's Secretary of State, George Shultz, on Meet the Press. He claimed, fantastically, that Ronald Reagan was undefeated in his foreign military adventures. Shultz also stated a whopper of a lie: that the invasion of Grenada on October 25th of 1983 was "the first use of the American military overseas since Vietnam."
For those of us with connections to the Marine Corps that lie astonished. The Grenada distraction started 2 days after the Marine BLT Barracks was shattered. Shultz initiated what has become a concerted Republican effort to rewrite popular history: the disasters of Lebanon 1983 are erased.
Corporate media goes all in for Pearl Harbor Day when December 7th rolls around. That happened when a Democrat was in the White House.
Plainly, Republicans and their corporate allies would forget the military dead where it is politically convenient to forget them. Lying does not matter. They mislead their "Base" with gross lies, paranoid whining, and empty promises. They care for nothing but their own advancement.
Lie about the dead, ye superpatriots. IOKIYAR.
When Lebanon 1983 is mentioned, for such as resume material, the bombings are blamed on Hezbollah. That is one more lie. Another distraction. In 1983 the Arab militias in Lebanon were fragmented. There was no Hezbollah, not yet. Plus, the Iranians were the ones who supplied the detonation technology and management resource; we know who carried out the bombings and where they are mourned.
I'm not going to put in pictures.
More of what you will not learn from corporate media -- what happened, how and why our guys died, how Hezbollah was founded -- more coverage below the orange muffin.
Let's restate the obvious: Hezbollah wasn't formed until 1985.
However, Reagan's naval guns in 1983 led directly to these acts of revenge. Iran supplied resources, technology, and totally committed people. The revenge, of itself, earned the Persians of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard enormous prestige on the Arab street. Iran was then able to get a strong foot in the door in Lebanon.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard was then able to bring in 1,500 picked troops. Hezbollah formed up as a military organization which led to consolidation of both Shia and Sunni militias in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah relied on Shia Imams in close to Beirut, but absorbed every one of the village volunteer groups going down south and to the east. These units included the Lebanese who had caught the worst of it when Israel invaded the country in June, 1982.
Hezbollah went on to become a more effective military force than the Lebanese national army or the Christian militias.
Today and for the last decades, Hezbollah/Hizb Allah has used assassination as a prime tool for political aggrandizement. First they killed rivals to dominate Shia groups. Then to wreck any political effort to strengthen Lebanon as a country, as opposed to serving hard core Party of God objectives and provide service to the Shia religious structure in Iran. The Hariri assassination in 2005 was one of dozens.
If we consider the situation inside Lebanon in 1985, seeing Iran put in troops and create permanent alliances with very low level Arab militias was a major defeat for the Americans. This expansion affected military, commercial and diplomatic interests. Israel went ballistic, verbally, but there was nothing they could do. Another invasion of Lebanon at that point would have solidified Hezbollah's hold on the south of Lebanon, as has happened following Israel's 2006 invasion.
Hezbollah/Hizb Allah was set up from the very start as a client to Iran. Their strategic direction in 1985 included widening the battlefield for the Iran-Iraq War. Many of Hezbollah's soldiers in Lebanon, today, are not Shia, they are Sunni Muslims from the areas south and southeast of Beirut. The troops sent to Syria, however, are reportedly mostly Shia.
The leadership and the Beirut area militias remain predominantly Shia, as is Iran, of course.
The one and only way that Shia Iran got an "in" to carry out this operation including absorbing Sunni areas was by leveraging the credit they got for the 1983 revenge bombings.
Thank you, Ronald Reagan.
Without the naval shelling of villages, there would have been no reason for the Lebanese to support the 4 suicide-bombings. Without the 1,500 IRG troops, there would have been no Hezbollah army.
Hezbollah and the continuing influence of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in Lebanon, even today, have to be assessed as the most important pieces of what remains of Ronald Reagan's impact on the Middle East.
You will never hear a word about any of that from corporate MSM.
That American invasion of Lebanon gave the Iranians an opportunity they could never have dreamed of generating on their own. Where else could they have killed 63 + 241 + 64 + 30 and mostly Americans without inviting a Shock-and-Awe devastation dropped on Teheran ???
63 -- victims at the embassy 18-April-1983Note that the first truck bomb hit in April. Then we see a six-month gap before our Marines and the French were hit. Dept. of State changed everything about its own security when they relocated the embassy; Marines and the French adopted none of it. Our troops were sitting ducks for truck bombs.
241 - victims at the Marine barracks 23-October-1983
64 -- victims at the French barracks 23-October-1983
30 -- victims at Tyre for the Israelis 3-November-1983
You can find articles on these bombings written by retired Marine and Army officers and civilian political appointees. For the most part they blame Dept. of State and try to state a claim that State refused to allow the guards at Marine BLT Barracks to load their weapons. That is absurd.
No one at State is in the Marine Corps' chain of command. Also, President Reagan was clear in his address to the nation about this disaster:
This past Sunday, at 22 minutes after 6 Beirut time, with dawn just breaking, a truck, looking like a lot of other vehicles in the city, approached the airport on a busy, main road. There was nothing in its appearance to suggest it was any different than the trucks or cars that were normally seen on and around the airport. But this one was different. At the wheel was a young man on a suicide mission.The problem was the new M16A2 that fired 5.56mm rounds. Not enough gun. Sentries needed their heavy .50 cal machine guns or the anti-tank missile Dragons. Marines in 1/8 had full weapons deployment uphill at the new embassy site. Not for themselves at the airport -- a DoD failing, not in any way connected to State Dept.
The truck carried some 2,000 pounds (sic) of explosives, but there was no way our marine guards could know this. Their first warning that something was wrong came when the truck crashed through a series of barriers, including a chain-link fence and barbed wire entanglements. The guards opened fire, but it was too late. The truck smashed through the doors of the headquarters building in which our marines were sleeping and instantly exploded. The four-story concrete building collapsed in a pile of rubble.
Prior to this day of horror, there had been several tragedies for our men in the multinational force. Attacks by snipers and mortar fire had taken their toll.
State's protocol for defending buildings had been promulgated all over the world: armed guards, advanced vehicle control devices, security architectures, blast radius tables, and such as heavy machine guns and Dragon anti-tank missiles were standard issue.
If anything, today's DoD-connected articles prove that it's not only Republican elected officials who tell well-organized lies. Blaming Dept. of State for a Department of Defense blunder also serves the hoax that State is an effete, unmanly herd of Libruls. They even read books and learn foreigners' languages....
There's a lot to be learned about the bombings, themselves, coming in part from Iranian sources. This article will skirt the details of the killings. A bomb blast is singularly brutal. The result does not resemble what you see in movies.
No pics of the Arab village slaughters, either. If you were appalled at what happened in Iraq at Abu Ghraib, imagine it a hundred times worse. There is also talk in DoD-connected articles about shooting the naval guns at militia-manned mortars. Those were the 81mm 2-man-carry weapons mounted in pickup trucks. In practice what happened was that when a village or its outskirts were used to fire the mortars, the U.S. Navy retaliated by flattening the village.
Apparently, Arab civilians including children were never considered by anyone controlling the big guns. Reagan had given the orders to retaliate. You're not going to hit a highly mobile pickup truck, so it's the village that takes the barrage.
From what has been learned to date, Reagan never asked for the details of what was happening under these naval bombardments. The Department of Defense and the Navy never told him, never showed him. CIA never showed him the images that were circulating in tens of thousands of copies in Iran and in the Arab countries.
President Reagan had created this revenge scenario when he ordered use of dozens of the 5-inch naval guns aimed into the hills above Beirut. He was advised that this had silenced the portable 81mm mortars. Neither Reagan nor anyone else in the White House had a clear idea what was happened when the shells came down.
In subsequent technical analysis, those mortars were observed in local photographer's stills, all of them mounted in the beds of pickup trucks. They were moved around to avoid the naval guns. In the course of a year of mortars and naval guns playing this deadly game, no more than a half-dozen of the pickup trucks were disabled. Iran sent photographers over to Lebanon and they documented what was happening, all the way through the October 23rd revenge actions.
Reagan, the CinC, knew next to nothing about mortars. He knew nothing at all about the tactics used by insurgents. When he called in the naval guns, reportedly he was in a rage that Arab militiamen had attacked his Maronist Christian allies. Reagan did not set about slaughtering Lebanese for no reason at all.
Note that the mortars were never aimed at the Marine BLT Barracks. Not once. Reagan escalated the slaughter shelling the same areas above Beirut with the big guns of battleship New Jersey. You can imagine what that did ashore.
Photos of the victims, including children, ran to torn up bodies and body parts on the ground. Houses were shattered by the dozens. That was a residential area, same as today. Try Google Earth.
Recall the pics from Abu Ghraib ??? How that lit up the victims' countrymen ?
Those pics from Lebanon in 1983 were what had changed everything. Everything in the Middle East, anyway. What had been a United Nations Peacekeeping operation went over the Dark Side with America's bloody mindedness.
Reagan changed it from "peacekeeping" to slaughtering innocents by the hundreds. You're not a "Peacekeeper" when you lob 288 16-inch shells a day at villages from battleship New Jersey. And then do the same type of bombardment again and again and again.
You're also no longer "the land of the free and the home of the brave." Not for that generation of Arabs and Iranians. In a couple months time the image of the United States went over to being that of a new Russia, the Russia of Afghan nightmares. A killer of children and a pitiless occupier.
Revenge came quickly.
The Iranians supplied technology to detonate a very large liquid-butane-and-PETN bomb sitting over marble base. They mounted the bombs on thick marble slabs to maximize the shock wave. They armored the engine and the drivers' cockpit.
These suicide-bombings counted twice: for the naval shelling slaughters and to punish Reagan for supporting Saddam Hussein during the ongoing Iran-Iraq War. (Saddam used nerve gas regularly. There's a nice pic of Saddam shaking hands with Dick Cheney. I've never been able to tell from looking at this image which one of them embodies Satan and which one is merely an angel of death.)
This LB/PETN type of truck bomb creates a thermobaric shock wave. It rivals the destructive force of a small nuke. It powders concrete up close. It sends debris flying out that can kill human beings as far as a mile away.
The building used for Marine BLT Barracks was solid reinforced concrete with strong iron rebar supports. It was reduced to rubble in an instant. Rescuing injured servicemen was complicated by the shear mass of the building. Twisted rebar supports, still welded together, made removal efforts uniquely difficult.
Reagan solved his immediate political problem after the disaster by invading Grenada, plus having removal of a benign polyp during a colonoscopy headlined as a "cancer scare."
Reagan and his team were very, very good at PR. They got lots of help from corporate media.
Add it all up. The man got 398 people killed by the truck bombs. And another 1,500 to 2,000 killed between U.S. and French soldiers who were shot by snipers and Arab civilians and maybe a couple dozen militiamen and two armed women that the U.S. was trying to kill.
Imagine a Democrat doing that. Reagan's body count was far higher that the count for non-Al-Qaeda killed by Bush and Obama drones.
The Benghazi battle on 9/11/2012, by way of comparison, killed four Americans. Two of those four were shot trying to get back to help rescue the main diplomatic group, when they ran into a street mob. With Libya armed to the teeth and the Lebanon and Iraq atrocity pics on family walls, what do you expect? 9/11/2001 can be depicted as a day of revenge, which is not uncommon among Islamic fundamentalists. News that day of an obscene movie attacking The Prophet coming out of America -- it didn't take much.
Back in 1983, Ronald Reagan had decided that he wanted to tell his domestic Christian political allies that he had taken sides during that round of the Lebanese civil wars. The politics worked. They voted for him in 1984 in droves.
Reagan handled the PR side of this mess masterfully, all finished and done by Christmas of 1983, with the public seeing him as the one to feel sorry for. "Poor Ronnie had a cancer scare."
Between 1980 and today the Reagan image has gone forward steadily. He is perceived as a combo of Paul Bunyan and Johnny Appleseed. The broadest of hoaxes has been created around him. It is a wonder.
The line "Tear down this wall!" is credited with powers like Jehovah parting the Red Sea. Reagan got the same effect and he wasn't even a god!
Thing is, if you're a detail collector, Reagan never did one thing substantive to bring down Communism. His one action against the Soviet Union was supplying low level arms to the Afghan rebels. And that effort led directly to formation of Usama bin Laden's field army.
Pope John Paul II was The Man for the heavy lifting that freed Eastern Europe.
You could think from the Reagan image that he had won a war -- any war, not Operation Urgent Fury aimed at Grenadian police and a Cuban construction crew. And certainly not anything connected to Multinational Force Lebanon. From the Reagan image, he belongs up on Mt. Rushmore. It is difficult to consider Ronald Reagan as a president without encountering the lies that accompany his main PR hoax.
A stubborn fact stands out that goes against the Reagan hoax: in Lebanon, Reagan surrendered.
He had killed hundreds of noncombatant villagers. He had gone on and on there killing civilians with next to no management control from the top. This was not like the Obama drone killings, where the president is up to his eye balls in efforts to limit civilian collateral murder.
After the truck bombings Reagan's retreat of the Marines out of Lebanon was the almost certainly the best policy choice going forward. But it was still a surrender. Reagan got the U.S. military into a fix where he had no control of events. He didn't even try to manage that situation on a day to day basis.
The Iranians jumped in and beat him to his knees.
He turned tail and ran out from Lebanon immediately after the bombings. U.S. forces were withdrawn -- except for Navy ships that kept pounding the same line of villages.
The Cult of Personality for Reagan that was generated in America moved forward without pause, certain that media would never breathe a word about what was happening.
And now in 2013 the American dead from 1983 in Lebanon are dishonored. Forgotten. Same for the Arab victims, obviously. These dead are now put out of our corporate-approved popular history.
As of 2013 we have a corporate standard that put all of the effort to protection of Ronald Reagan's image. Same time, the news outlets pile on for the imaginary story-telling, a new hoax that dishonors the dead from Benghazi.
All of this ignominy is necessary to serve the structured political hoax they've built to glorify Ronald Reagan. And to attack President Obama, who did nothing to kill civilians in Libya. Such are today's Republican Party and their allies.
God bless the souls of those killed during that misadventure in 1983.
Thank you for the Recommended tag.
We searched through the network stories. Nothing for on-channel coverage; at best a blog post here and there. NY Times and WaPo buried it.
No comparison has appeared anywhere in corporate MSM connecting Lebanon 1983 and Libya 2012. Not one story.
"Forgetting" Lebanon 1983 is shocking. The men on the ground served honorably, trying to shut down a nasty civil war and save lives. They paid the price balancing scales for the very savagery of Reagan's naval bombardments.
This "forgetting" exercise has been noticed elsewhere. There's a well written article from Nir Rosen "Lesson Unlearned" in Foreign Policy (October 29, 2009.) It's possible that's where the propagandists got the idea of getting everyone to "forget" Lebanon 1983.
That's here behind a control system that requires setting up a temporary account.
Or here as "Lessons Unlearned" at the archive.is site.
"Another October 23rd has come and gone [in 2009], another anniversary of the 1983 U.S. Marine barracks bombing in Beirut -- and more inane articles written by people drawing the wrong lessons. As usual, the authors perceive the United States as some innocent Little Red Riding Hood attacked unjustly and without provocation by evil wolves. Last year [in 2008], former Reagan-era National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane penned an especially ill-informed piece titled "From Beirut to 9/11" [NY Times op ed page]. McFarlane blamed Hezbollah, though the Shiite resistance group did not yet really exist and nobody [knew then] who actually committed the attack."What we see today with Republican propagandists and with corporate press is that they repeat "Thank you for your service" and "Support the troops" and then follow on with silence where ignoring military deaths is politically useful.