In 1982, the Israeli army leveled a siege on the capital of an Arab land – Beirut. They were poised on the southern edge of Beirut. And Palestinian fighters ran raids against their front lines and lobbed mortars in their rear areas; the Israel Defense Forces pounded back at the city with artillery, tank forays, and air strikes. The United States was caught in the middle. The Arab world blamed us, as Israel’s great ally and financial supporter, for all of Israel’s deeds and looked to us to end the fighting in a responsible way. The Lebanese government particularly relied on us to save them from outside predators and to help them restore Lebanese central authority over their country. In effect, every side wanted to squeeze the system for its own purposes, regardless of the cost to the Lebanese. Jordan wanted an Israeli settlements freeze; Israel wanted the US assistance stepped up. Lebanon grew fearful of renewed Syrian dominance as massive Soviet military resupply flowed to Syria, and warring militias battled each other beyond the control of the weak Lebanese central authority. In August 1982, America participated in sending a multinational peacekeeping force to Beirut. As hostilities increased considerably, additional help was required. So, in September 1983, Congress authorized the deployment of Marines for an additional 18 months. And one month later, tragedy struck.

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