Thirty years ago today, on an early Sunday morning, as our Marines slept soundly in their cots at Beirut International Airport, an Iranian terrorist smashed a truck filled with explosives into their barracks. According to witnesses, the blast was so enormous, it actually lifted the four-story building into the air before it came crashing down, killing 220 Marines. It was the single largest Marine loss since Iwo Jima and also killed 18 sailors, three soldiers and six civilians. At nearly the same moment, a second suicide bomber blew up a nine-story building on the other side of the airport, ending the lives of 58 French paratroopers.
Because there were those in Washington who didn’t want the US to appear “warlike,” the Marines were unable to defend themselves. The guards posted outside the barracks that Sunday morning were not allowed to carry live rounds in their chambers.
Sadly, most Americans don’t even remember this day. But our enemies do. And more importantly, our response.
In fact an obscure Saudi named Osama bin Laden later told ABC News our inability to defend and desire to pull out four months later demonstrated “decline of the American government and the weakness of the American soldier.”
Our response was not as President Roosevelt had done after Pearl Harbor. Instead, President Reagan made a horrible strategic decision in not understanding this Islamic terrorist enemy and withdrew our forces. Bill Clinton followed suit and withdrew from Somalia in 1994. George W. Bush attacked after 9-11 into Afghanistan, but without a clear objective and watered-down Rules of Engagement we are achieving little. America lost the initiative eventually in Iraq and thanks to Barack Obama we have withdrawn from that country as well.
Today, as in Beirut, our Rules of Engagement continue to set up our troops for failure and death. Thirty years ago we set a horrific precedent in confronting these jihadist murderers and now they have exploited that weakness. We know to this day who the enemy is but we have a president who believes we can just pick up a phone and chat with them.
Until America produces a president with resolve, who understands the history of this enemy, we shall not prevail. God bless those brave Marines who gave the last full measure of devotion. God help America to find the leadership to define, engage, fight, and defeat Islamic totalitarianism.