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President Trump's Iran Bombing Cancellation Was Reaganesque

Laurence Jarvik

Posted on June 21, 2019 16:45

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President Trump has set the stage for restoration of the Weinberger Doctrine, after both Bush and Obama administrations applied crackpot theories to their use of military force, such as "winning hearts and minds" or "leading from behind."

 

On October 23rd, 1983 Iranian suicide bomber Ismail Ascari killed 241 American servicemen in the the US Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. Minutes later, another smaller bomb killed 58 French paratroopers in their barracks. 

The French soon launched air attacks against Iranian positions in the Beqaa Valley. Although Presidents Miterrand and Reagan agreed to conduct additional joint missions, Defense Secretary Weinberger lobbied against them.  

Instead, on February 7, 1984, US Marines were ordered to withdraw from Lebanon by the Reagan Administration.

Subsequently, the USS New Jersey fired some 300 shells at positions in the Beqaa Valley and  President Reagan appointed a commission to investigate, which found senior military officials responsible for security lapses that allowed the attack.

This embarrassing fiasco, seen at the time as a catastrophe, actually marked the end to an era of failed American interventions ranging from the Vietnam War to President Carter's botched Iranian hostage rescue attempt. 

Following the Beirut withdrawal, the Reagan administration would instead follow the Weinberger Doctrinewhich stated:

*The United States should not commit forces to combat unless the vital national interests of the United States or its allies are involved.


*U.S. troops should only be committed wholeheartedly and with the clear intention of winning. Otherwise, troops should not be committed.


*U.S. combat troops should be committed only with clearly defined political and military objectives and with the capacity to accomplish those objectives.


*The relationship between the objectives and the size and composition of the forces committed should be continually reassessed and adjusted if necessary.


*U.S. troops should not be committed to battle without a "reasonable assurance" of the support of U.S. public opinion and Congress.


*The commitment of U.S. troops should be considered only as a last resort.

By following these principles, President Reagan won the Cold War in a few years, avoiding further military embarrassments.

No doubt, President Trump just faced a similar moment of truth in America's confrontation with Iran. By canceling retaliatory bombing at the last minute, President Trump displayed a Reaganesque sense of statesmanship.

His bold move sets the stage for restoration of the Weinberger Doctrine, after both Bush and Obama administrations applied crackpot theories to their use of military force, such as "winning hearts and minds" or "leading from behind"...with the same dire results as those experienced by Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter.

If there is to be war with Iran, it must be conducted as a last resort, with the support of Congress and the American public, with clearly defined objectives, wholeheartedly with the clear intention of winning, and only if it serves the vital national interests of the USA and our allies.

If President Trump can get this message across, he should be able to change the terms of debate over American military intervention, rebuild our credibility, and restore the capability of the United States to decisively win our wars in the future.

President Trump demonstrated once more that like President Reagan, he knows when to hold--and when to fold.

Laurence Jarvik

Posted on June 21, 2019 16:45

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Source: KRQE 13

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence on Monday honored the memory of 241 U.S. service members killed in the 1983 Marine...

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