Bombing of Lebanon Barracks
In 1983, Reagan sent American troops to Lebanon, hoping to stabilize a country ravaged by years of civil war. Their mission was to support a government friendly to U.S. interests and to Israel, and to help end the cycle of violence. Playing the part of an “honest broker” between competing interests, President Reagan authorized the troops to be stationed in barracks in Beirut.
On October 23, suicide bomber crashed a truck bearing over 2000 pounds of explosives through the building’s protective barricades. Since the attack took place early on a Sunday morning, it found most of the troops asleep in their beds.
Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed militant Islamic group, claimed responsibility for the bombing. The ability of the United States to remain detached and play the role of honest broker became more difficult after the attack. American military ships shelled Lebanese positions, and the United States was drawn into supporting certain factions against others in the Lebanese civil war. Just two years after the bombing, Reagan withdrew all U.S. military forces from the area at the request of the Lebanese government. This devastating setback shook the President, altering U.S. Mid-East policy, though it did little to diminish Reagan’s popularity with the American electorate.