Reagan’s Lebanon Policy Still Questionable

Although President Ronald Reagan’s redeployment of U.S. Marine ground troops in Lebanon to sea vessels Tuesday may have temporarily eased the “sitting duck” situation concerning U.S. armed “peace-keeping” forces, Reagan must still deal with a continuing foreign civil war that shows no end in sight.

As it stands now, Reagan took the only alternative possible in redeploying the troops. The U.S.-supported Lebanese government began visibly crumbling when Lebanese Premier Shafik Wazzan and his cabinet resigned on Feb. 4; on Feb. 6, Muslim militiamen seized the better part of West Beirut and demanded that Lebanese President Amine Gemayel resign. At this time, Gemayel has not conceded to the demands.

As 1,450 U.S. Marines now await to be transported to the U.S. 6th Fleet via helicopter from an international airport just south of Beirut, the U.S. battleship
New Jersey situated off the Lebanon coast is continuing to unload a massive barrage of retaliatory artillery fire into Druze-occupied positions in the mountains just beyond Beirut.

President Reagan has now made it clear that he plans to continue to approve sea and air attacks on Syrian-held positions, with no plans to resolve the situation diplomatically. As time goes on, it becomes blatantly obvious that Reagan is not yet ready to unleash the grip of the U.S. Marines as the western strong-arm power in the eastern hemisphere, and the intentions of U.S. involvement in Beirut are as questionable as they were from the beginning.

The civil war in Lebanon has been going on for centuries on end and the Reagan administration has no business whatsoever risking countless civilian and military lives in the distorted name of “peace.” The longer Reagan keeps the U.S. Marines in Lebanon, the harder it will be to wash his blood-stained hands of the matter come election time in November.

Since the Marines were initially sent to the troubled nation of Lebanon by Reagan last September, 259 troops have lost their lives, 241 of whom were killed in the tragic suicide attack on Marine headquarters last October 23. How many more human sacrifices will Reagan continue to deliver on a stone slab to the Shiite Muslims and Druze militia forces, who would just as soon take their own lives along with those of U.S. servicemen rather than give up their long-held religious convictions? Just how high must the U.S. armed forces body count tally up before Reagan realizes that his international muscle-flexing is leading nowhere? These are questions only the president can answer, and he’s busy fighting mosquitoes at his Santa Barbara [California] ranch.

While blindly pursuing various political and governmental “American interests” in Lebanon, Reagan has intentionally overlooked the concerns and wishes of one other group: those American citizens who are interested in bringing our Marines back home.