Doing the right thing
Thursday, December 27, 2012
On this day in 1983, Pres. Ronald Reagan took full responsibility for the October bombing of the Beirut Embassy in Lebanon that killed 241 U.S. troops. Contrast that with the lies, stonewalling, and passing the buck of the Obama administration in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack.
Of course, neither president was directly responsible for the death of American service members overseas; we must not lose sight that both of these attacks were perpetrated by America's enemies. However the policies of both presidents and the actions of their subordinates certainly played a role and is worth further investigation (in Obama's case) and discussion.
Reagan wasn't perfect. No man is. But by taking responsibility for something that happened under his watch, President Reagan displayed a level class that Americans are unlikely to ever see from the man who currently occupies the White House.
I have fought against the restrictive rules of engagement in Afghanistan under Bush and Obama as part of the counterinsurgency doctrine. To be fair, under the Reagan administration Marines were not allowed to have loaded weapons during their peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, and were only allowed to return fire under certain circumstances. Had the Marines pulling security outside the barracks been locked and loaded, then those 241 Marines, sailors, and soldiers probably wouldn't have died.
After the attack, Reagan withdrew the peacekeeping force. But why send combat troops to a country that poses no significant threat to the United States in the first place? When a president feels it is necessary to handicap our military's ability to respond to deadly force in a particular theater, then we probably shouldn't send men with guns in the first place.
In an age of terrorism, I wholeheartedly support counterterrorism. There are plenty of people who not only feel divinely inspired to kill innocent Americans, but also seek to do so. They must be stopped. But when we go beyond intelligence and special operations - putting "boots on the ground" - there has to be a legitimate reason.
We have sent enough young men and women to die in the Middle East, Southwest Asia, and North Africa. No matter how much blood we spill in that part of the globe, they will continue to hate us and themselves.
They can hate us for free. Stop the foreign aid. Stop propping up dictators and tyrants - the Soviet Union isn't around any more. Stop sending our young men and women to die. And for the love of all that is good, stop buying their oil. We have enough energy resources at home that no matter happens in that part of the globe, it's not our problem any more.