Ronald Reagan “Cut and Run”

Ronald Regan - 40th President

1982. The Invasion of Lebanon. President Ronald Reagan decided to support the Israeli offensive and invade Lebanon. After a horrible car bomb killed 241 American Soldiers in Beirut, Reagan “cut and run” (or that’s what I think many neo-cons would be calling that kind of troop withdrawal today).

Today, we can all learn a lot from what Ronald Reagan wrote afterward concerning that incident and the Middle East in general:

“Perhaps we didn’t appreciate fully enough the depth of the hatred and the complexity of the problems that made the Middle East such a jungle. Perhaps the idea of a suicide car bomber committing mass murder to gain instant entry to Paradise was so foreign to our own values and consciousness that it did not create in us the concern for the marines’ safety that it should have.

“In the weeks immediately after the bombing, I believe the last thing that we should do was turn tail and leave. Yet the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics forced us to rethink our policy there. If there would be some rethinking of policy before our men die, we would be a lot better off. If that policy had changed towards more of a neutral position and neutrality, those 241 marines would be alive today.” (From his autobiography)

Ronald Reagan is often seen as the role model of a “strong foreign policy” – Yet in retrospect he advised “neutrality” in the Middle East. We need to take a lesson from our past, President Obama.

Seriously… Arabs don’t attack because you leave them alone

Picture of Muslim Worship in Mecca

Most conservatives today would say that withdrawing troops from the Middle East is nothing short of cut and run – abandoning the mission and admitting defeat. To that I say: so what? An important part of growing up is knowing that sometimes you shouldn’t fight.

One lesson to learn from the Lebanese invasion of 1982 is that afterwards no terrorists attacked us at home. Terrorists don’t attack us because they think we’re weak; usually they see themselves as defending their homeland.

Image you’re a typical jihad recruit: a young, zealousness, poor Muslim man. Which motivation is more likely to motivate you:

  • “See the American on your back door! Defiling your home land! Go attack.” OR
  • “The Americans are leaving us alone. They’re afraid. Go to a foreign land and kill as many as you can.” ?

Seriously, it’s ridiculous to think that radical Muslims will more zealously attack us in our own country just because we leave them alone. Ronald Reagan’s expedition into Lebanon is evidence to that point.

The Principle of the Matter

The best advice on the subject of foreign relations was given by George Washington in his Farewell Address:

George Washington Portrait. Courtesy of Wikimedia.

“The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. …It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world…”

For all their talk, “Conservatives” don’t seem to follow the founding fathers on this point. Do you think Republicans today are walking in the Reagan legacy? Or are they repeating all the mistakeshe told us to rethink? My rule is “…peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none…

Previous post on the topic: How Bush would have been against the Iraq War before he got elected.


8 Responses

  1. Gen. 16:11 “The angel of the LORD also said to her: “You are now with child and you will have a son. You shall name him Ishmael, for the LORD has heard of your misery. He will be a wild donkey of a man; *his hand will be against everyone* and everyone’s hand against him, and *he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”*

    Islam proudly claim that they are descendants of Ishmael, the son of Abraham. They just don’t care for the slave woman part that much.

    We are approaching the anniversary of one of the most devastating moments in our history: 9/11.

    You know as well as I do who was flying those planes. They were not Americans.

    You asked the question: ” Which motivation is more likely to motivate you:
    ‘See the American on your back door! Defiling your home land! Go attack.’ OR
    ‘The Americans are leaving us alone. They’re afraid. Go to a foreign land and kill as many as you can.’ ?”

    The answer is both, except the latter comes with a nasty twist. “alright, their back in their homeland, let’s get prepped and blast some infidel!” This was *forewarned* in the previously mentioned verse, *manifested* in 9/11 and *finalized* by the following Islamic authority:

    “Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, allows that it ‘is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its laws on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet'” (Middle East Quarterly,

    Islam and it’s constituents in the Middle East are not apathetic in their belief system. If we are not against them, then we will be with them. THERE is NO neutral ground according to their scriptures. Either we will join them in their faith and conquest of the world, or we will be one of the objects of their conquest.

    But we don’t have to be victims.

    I must disagree with you, I find considerable evidence to the contrary.

    Meanwhile, your evidence. You quoted two men I admire, and I agree with both of them. Ronald Reagan stated that: “I believe the last thing that we should do was turn tail and leave. Yet the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics forced us to rethink our policy there. If there would be some rethinking of policy before our men die, we would be a lot better off.”

    We Shouldn’t turn tail and run and we really do need to rethink our policy. point well taken.

    You also mentioned George Washington when he said: “The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible.”

    I concur, as little as possible.

    But with Islam, it *is* no longer possible.

    Remember 9/11.

  2. Nathan,

    1) Whatever the rhetoric or the beliefs of Islam, you can’t get past the reality of the motivation that drives /people/. Right now we’ve given them the biggest motivation ever: fighting for their home. Let’s not stir the hornet’s nest.

    2) You misread the Ronald Reagan quote. He said the exactly opposite – basically that the only option was to turn tail and run (that’s exactly what he did; withdraw troops from Lebanon). He advocated a policy of neutrality in the Middle East – not intervention.

    3) 911 did not happen in a vacuum. We’d been fiddling with the Middle East for a long time. Let’s not pretend that we were perfect and attacked for no good reason.

    4) What do you advocate for dealing with radical Islam, then? Invade their home and show them them that our ways are better? Depose dictators and let the people (the Muslim Brotherhood) take control? Create dictatorships (like The Shah) that are West-friendly?

    None of these solutions are making anything better. If anything, it’s making it worse. Look up “blowback.”


  3. Brian,

    1. a. The Arab nations we are dealing with are driven by their religion and they will always be hostile to us. That *is* the reality. I brought up the verse and the quote to support this.

    b. Agreed. We need to re-work of policies regarding them. But lets not allow this to fool us into thinking that they will leave us a lone if we leave them alone. Muslims to do hold to the “love your enemy” command. Their whole goal to bring about world domination, do you think they will stop at us just because we backed off?

    2. He said we need to rethink our policy, not straight up “turn tail and run.” I guess it depends on what he means by “policy.” As for him advocating neutrality, I did not see that in the quote, but whether he did or did not is not my point.

    3. Understood. But 9/11 demonstrated their extreme commitment to destroying infidels. Will “being neutral” in the fight make them less likely to attack us? For the immediate future… maybe. But definitely not the distant future. Why? They Hate America. We may be the most wealthy nation in the world, but we are also the most hated.
    Secondly, who is their target? Israel and the Holy Land. In order to stop “melding” in the affairs of the Muslims, we would have to withdraw our support from Israel, their arch nemesis.

    To withdraw for the sake of staying out of the Muslim’s hair would be to abandon Israel.

    Gen 12:3 “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.'”

    To abandon Israel is dumb, considering that they are God’s chosen people. To abandon anyone is the equivalent of a curse.

    So, weather we like it or not, for the sake of our own country we cannot stand ‘neutrally’ on this issue. Either they will bomb us in our own country, or they will bomb us for standing with Israel. The question is, on which side will God find us when we do get attacked? Will we be in the ranks of His Chosen, or will we be cowering back at home waiting for our turn?

    4. What do I propose? I am the negative Brian ;), your the one posing the plans. My job is to just show why you’re wrong. 😀 But in all honesty, it seems to me that if the biblical purpose of a government in its own country is to wield the sword, punishing those who do wrong and rewarding those who do right, then shouldn’t we apply a Biblical perspective to global policy?

    once again… Gen 12:3 “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.'”

    In this one facet, it is apparent to me that the Biblical approach to this situation would be to continue our defense, mainly because it would be un-biblical to abandon Israel. On a more personal note, if we are not against radical Islamists, we will only be playing for them.

    George Washington was wise when he said: “to have with them as little political connection as possible.” The problem is that now is the time when it *IS* no longer possible.

    • Your religion has no place in the foreign policy debate. That makes you almost as bad as the Jihadists. Israel is just another country. We opposed Israel’s invasion of the Suez Canal. Did your god punish as then? The purpose of our mid east policy should be to peruse our own interests, not Israel’s. Yes, I agree that Islam tends to be imperialistic and we have a legitimate reason to oppose that. But that does not mean we should engage in policies that create unnecessary hostility. Also, we have had plenty of Muslims work with us as allies so to say all or even most Muslims hate us is absurd.

  4. Thomas Jefferson started the first war on terror against Islamic pirates who were attacking American ships and taking their crews captive, would you advocate this was a bad strategy, even thought it stopped all such activity by this group against America?

    I understand your point, but I have studied this,I own a koran, I have read it, these people are so averse to our way of life we cannot ignore them. It is honorable for them to die in holy war, and weather or not we wish to be at war with them, they are at war with us. And they will not rest til our way of life is no more.

  5. Good point. Yes, history shows we can attack Muslims and win. Wow. Quite a revelation there… BUT there are several key differences between Tripoli and Al-Qaeda:
    1 – we declared war
    2 – there was a specific strategic objective. ie: we could see an end.
    3 – (because of this) we won. We didn’t occupy.

    The Barbary pirates had a capital! And we sacked it… and we won.We didn’t occupy; we didn’t form an international coalition. We just beat them. With Al-Qaeda, there’s no capital, there so point of victory. Just endless war. Do you realistically believe that we can kill all potential terrorists?

    Seriously, dude, you can’t make a solid historical comparison just because our enemies were Muslim both times. That’s… dumb. The strategic nature of the war was totally different.

  6. And, as to the idea that Israel is always on the right side… that’s just biblically, and historically, flat out wrong.

    Go read Jeremiah 27 “Now I will give all your countries into the hands of my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon… this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says about the things that are left in the house of the Lord and in the palace of the king of Judah and in Jerusalem: ‘They will be taken to Babylon and there they will remain until the day I come for them,’ declares the Lord. ‘Then I will bring them back and restore them to this place.’”

    Israel does have a special place in God’s heart, but he does not always bless their government. That’s a historical fact. We would be wise to not write our alliance with them in stone.

  7. True we should never write any alliance in stone but that does not mean that we should abandon Israel when it hasn’t done just because it has done wrong in the past.No country is perfect so we shouldnt abandon any country just because they did wrong in the past.

    The simple fact is that Muslim is not a bad faith. Only Muslim EXTREMISTS which have had their faith bent out of its original meaning to serve the purpose of its leaders. As such muslim EXTREMISTS are really just a cult and will not see any reason only blindly follow what their leaders say even after their leaders are dead. This fact means that the only way to stop this religious zealotry is to convince their leaders to steer the mindless herd in another direction but I don’t see that happening any time soon do you? This means that it boils down to ‘fight em there or fight em here.

    On a side note we have let their extremist actions destroy bits and pieces of our liberty (airports, gun control, etc…) which means we are letting them win the war while we continue the skirmishes. Despite all the added security they could still hop on a plane any time they wish and do it all over again. all that has happened is that we have lost that many more freedoms so we can *feel* safe again.

    All the while we block our own radars with wind turbines (big spinning blades tend to attract a lot of radar attention) and cripple the REAL defenses we actually have in the name of ‘green’ energy (when reviewed it seems the least green of all energy.) this has resulted in the airbases and public airports having to “desensitize” creating GAPING holes in their detection and ability to direct air traffic increasing the risks of plain crashes as well as creating blind spots that potential terrorists could use to their advantage.

    <.<Sorry kinda got a little off track there but I feel we should focus more on the battles we can win here and stop focusing on telling the military who have been through actual training how they should be marching.

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