Beirut Bombing of October 1983: An Act of Terrorism?   [open pdf - 538KB]

"The thesis argued here is that the killing of 241 Americans at the Beirut International Airport was not an act of terrorism, but an unconventional military assault against a military target. That the victims and their chain of command never seemed to realize they were at war in Lebanon only serves to compound the tragedy; that the United States may be considering a multifaceted policy of activism against 'terrorism' may only make matters worse. Indeed, whatever merit there may be in a 'proactive' stance toward terrorism, it should not be derived from the American experience in Lebanon, of all places. To do so would be to adopt the wrong policies for the wrong reasons, and perhaps to prolong the loss of American lives in Lebanon. This article consists of three parts: an examination of the circumstances surrounding the 23 October 1983 bombing; a brief inquiry into the nature of terrorism and its relationship to that tragic event; and a conclusion which urges that the questions of what to do about Lebanon and how to proceed on international terrorism be separated. Priority of effort on the latter question should be devoted to rigorous intelligence analysis focused on definitions, linkages, and rational options. The question of what to do about Lebanon centers, at this juncture, on the very basic matter of keeping our diplomats in that country safe."

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U.S. Army War College: http://www.carlisle.army.mil/
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Parameters (1985), v.15 n.2, p.69-74
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