What would Republicans say if a terrorist bombing killed 220 Marines on Obama’s watch?


The current political controversy over last year’s tragedy in Benghazi, Libya, brings to mind an even greater tragedy of nearly 30 years ago in that same part of the world.

On Oct. 23, 1983, a terrorist truck-bomb was detonated at a U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 220 Marines, 18 sailors and three soldiers. It was the biggest single-day death toll for the Marine Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.

The Marine contingent in Beiruit was subsequently moved offshore for their own protection, and four months after the bombing, President Reagan ordered the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Lebanon.

A subsequent investigation by a fact-finding committee blamed the military chain of command for the disaster and said there might have been fewer casualties if the guards at the barracks had carried loaded weapons. The sentries had been ordered to carry their ammunition on their belts, not in their rifles, to avoid any accidental shootings.

Incredibly, public reaction to the barracks bombing was almost immediately muted when, two days later, President  Reagan ordered 7,000 U.S. troops to invade the tiny island nation of Grenada in the Caribbean — ostensibly to rescue 800 American medical students studying there.

The little war in Grenada, which enjoyed wide support among the American populace,  resulted in the deaths of 59 Cubans, 45 Grenadans and 19 Americans. More importantly for the Reagan administration, it diverted attention from the debacle in Beirut.

But what if all this had happened while Barack Obama was president?

What would Republicans have said about barracks guards having been ordered to keep their weapons unloaded?

Would they have said the subsequent withdrawal of U.S. troops from Lebanon was a shameful example of cowardly retreat — “cut and run,” as it were?

What would Obama’s political enemies have said about his little diversionary skirmish in Grenada? Would they have characterized it as a “war” a good American street gang could have won without much fuss?

How soon would the right-wing noise machine have called for Obama’s impeachment?

I’m just asking, mind you.



  1. Of central import, the FCC Fairness Doctrine was in place in 1983, which required “the holders of broadcast licenses to present controversial issues of public importance in a manner that was, in the Commission’s view, honest, equitable and balanced.”

    In other words, the Fox business model was illegal. And it still should be.

    Could you imagine Roger Ailes called to testify under oath and present proof that Fox News is “equitable” in its’ coverage?


  2. Neftali

    What a bunch of silly nonsense from Pat. Republicans aren’t very happy with Reagan’s response to the Beirut attack, just the same as they aren’t happy with how the Obama administration handled Benghazi.

    One of the left’s favorite people, Michelle Malkin, did a noteworthy job of honoring the deceased on the 29th anniversary of the bombing. She also singled out this quote from another blog which I agree with.

    “The weak responses to the bombing by the US are believed to have emboldened jihadists around the world and contributed to the rise of Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed extremists in Lebanon.”


    This is in contrast to the liberals, which have continually tried to avoid, deflect, and dismiss responsibility of the Benghazi attacks. Let me know when the left puts up a similar memorial.

  3. Robert

    The court case between Fox News and Jane Akre and her husband Steven Wilson, says everything any thoughtful, truth appreciating person would want know about FOX News and the organization behind it. There’s a reason the Fairness Doctrine was done away with and why the rightwing media and the host of these shows, go ballistic whenever there’s any talk of its return. Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch took several pages out of the Nazi playbook on how to propagandize a large group of people and made sure it became legal to do just that. And the fools that consume their dribble have no clue they are being deceived. They just keep coming back for more and curse any body who tries to enlighten them.

    ” In February 2003, a Florida Court of Appeals unanimously agreed with an assertion by FOX News that there is no rule against distorting or falsifying the news in the United States.”


  4. Neftali: Are you serious???

    If something like Beirut happened on Obama’s watch, the right-wingers would go completely bonkers. The thing about unloaded rifles would rile them to no end. The calls for impeachment would be deafening.

    I mean, look at the ridiculous fuss those ninnies are making over Benghazi with their baseless accusations of a cover-up. Something like Beirut would have them marching on the White House with pitchforks. And Ted Cruz, the man you foolishly think is feared by Democrats, would be leading the charge.

  5. Steverino

    They would demand that The Hague come to the US and prosecute the entire White House.

  6. expdoc

    So the Democrats didn’t try to use Lebanon for political gain? Or do you mean to say they failed to use Lebanon for political gain?

    By the way, note who asked the question in the debate.


    In a debate later that year, Reagan was questioned on the terrorism issue “Morton Kondracke, executive editor of the New Republic, asked Reagan if he had not displayed the same weakness he accused Jimmy Carter of showing in the Iran hostage situation by not retaliating against the terrorist attacks. Reagan said the Marines had been sent to Lebanon at the request of that country’s government as “a stabilizing force” … In one of his more effective presentations of the evening, Reagan underscored his humane intentions by insisting that the U.S. would retaliate against terrorist attacks only “if we can put our finger on” the groups specifically responsible.”

    Mondale was unsuccessful in subsequent efforts to make terrorism policy a voting issue.”

  7. doc: Was there a never-ending series of congressional hearings on the Beirut matter? Were there deafening cries for Reagan’s impeachment? Was Reagan accused of favoritism toward Muslim terrorists? Did any TV network devote hundreds of hours to disparagement of Reagan over this matter?

    Check this: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/10/07/1138116/-The-President-Was-Warned-Security-Was-Lacking-And-Did-Nothing

    An excerpt:

    “Notably absent was any organized attempt by Democratic Congressional House members to investigate the Administration’s knowledge of the military’s defense strategy regarding the barracks.”

  8. expdoc

    “Did any TV network devote hundreds of hours to disparagement of Reagan over this matter?”

    In 1984? Seriously?

    How many hours of disparagement do you think MSNBC has dished out? They hit hundreds of hours of disparagement of conservatives about every other week on an ongoing basis. It would be faster if they weren’t so infatuated with prison life.

  9. expdoc

    “…deafening cries for Reagan’s impeachment?”

    You should turn off Fox News. Or at least turn down the volume.

  10. Craig Knauss


    There was no big outcry about Beirut. None. And there was a ton of glad-handing after our great military success over the Grenada juggernaut. Grenada was invaded for one purpose and one purpose only – to deflect public attention from the gross mismanagement that enabled the Beirut barracks and new U.S. embassy attacks.

    It was a classic case of the tail wagging the dog.

  11. expdoc

    If that’s true Craig, then I wonder why Walter Mondale couldn’t score any political points on such an outrage?

  12. Robert

    Is the RRS having some formatting problems? Somethings changed.. I’m only having this problem when I go into the Applesauce blog. I also noticed the Obituary link for the RRS isn’t showing any names. The rest of the link the RRS seems to working fine

  13. wilson

    So I guess nothing new was revealed at the Benghazi hearings so it is time to go back in time and argue what if’s.

    Don’t open this link, it is propaganda


  14. Robert: I’ve encountered the same formatting problem. I’ve reported the matter to our techies.

  15. Robert

    Pat, I got rid of my bookmarked link and got a fresh one and now its fine.

  16. Craig Knauss

    One more time, doc,

    “There was no big outcry about Beirut. None. And there was a ton of glad-handing after our great military success over the Grenada juggernaut.”

    Got it? BTW, I was in DOD when this was going on. What were YOU doing back then that makes you think you know more about it than I do? Elementary school perhaps?

    • Huldah1776

      I am a conservative and I despise Reagan for the lack of response to terrorism. He was an actor. An Actor.

  17. Darillyn Lamb Starr

    I don’t get into political debates. I just wanted to thank you for remembering the Marines (and also several men from the Navy and a few from other branches) who were killed in Beirut, in 1983. My father was still on active duty, in the last year of his 35 year Marine Corps career. He saw the casualty lists from that event and that is how I learned that one of my best friends from high school, who had graduated from the US Naval Academy, in 1976, was among the dead. He didn’t say anything to me until after he had determined that it was my friend, and not someone else with the same name.

    Vince Smith and I had graduated from Waipahu High School, in Hawaii, together, in 1972. He was as perfect a young man as I’ve ever known. He was good at everything; top of his class, great at sports, beautiful singing voice (which he used to sing duets with me, quite often), Eagle scout, you name it. Yet, despite all of his accomplishments, he was humble and just a very nice person.

    Everyone expected Vince to distinguish himself as an officer in the Marine Corps, just like his father, who retired as a Lt.General (three stars). Unfortunately, he didn’t get the chance. He had served only seven years when that terrorist drove those explosives into the building where he was sleeping.

    Darillyn Lamb
    Daughter of Col. A.W. Lamb, USMC (ret)

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