In the final presidential debate of the 2012 cycle last night, the agreed upon focus was foreign policy. The candidates discussed their views on various topics from the geopolitics of the Middle East and Asia, to the military and the projection of American power, to terrorism. Today, one day after the debate, is an opportune time to mark a solemn occasion and pause on this last subject.
In 1983, 29 years ago to the day, the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon were bombed by Islamic Jihad. When the attack was over, 220 Marines, 18 sailors, and 3 soldiers were among the dead. Another 60 Americans were injured. Although it would take the attacks of September 11, 2001, for Americans to officially accept terrorism as a reality and begin seriously debating it as a national policy concern, America was at war with radical Islam and those who would achieve their agenda through terror when the 1983 attack occurred.
U.S. military forces were in Beirut as part of the U.N. peacekeeping force attempting to intervene in Lebanon’s bloody civil war. Using the same technique that failed to work in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing some years later, suicide bombers drove truck bombs into the immediate vicinity of the Marine barracks and detonated the trucks while many inside the building were sleeping.
Large numbers of people engaged in the political debate today – and they are found primarily on the political left – take the position that there is no war on terror. President Obama has even taken to using other names like “overseas contingency operation” and “man-made disasters” for such acts. Rest assured that those who would do us harm are not going to leave us alone because we apologize to them or, worse, pretend that their agenda and tactics are not real.
Terrorists will not go away willingly or quietly. This struggle is ongoing and will continue well into the future. We have been at war with terrorists and their ideology since 1983. Americans must have the moral courage to call it what it is and stay in the fight, as well as the fortitude to see it through no matter how long it takes.
Take a moment to remember the souls lost 29 years ago today, say a prayer for them and their families, and then commit to making sure that we battle those who would do the same thing all over again if given the chance.