On this day in 1983, Pres. Ronald Reagan took full responsibility for the October bombing of the Beirut Embassy in Lebanon that killed 241 U.S. troops. Contrast that with the lies, stonewalling, and passing the buck of the Obama administration in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack.
Of course, neither president was directly responsible for the death of American service members overseas; we must not lose sight that both of these attacks were perpetrated by America’s enemies. However the policies of both presidents and the actions of their subordinates certainly played a role and is worth further investigation (in Obama’s case) and discussion.
Reagan wasn’t perfect. No man is. But by taking responsibility for something that happened under his watch, President Reagan displayed a level class that Americans are unlikely to ever see from the man who currently occupies the White House.
I have fought against the restrictive rules of engagement in Afghanistan under Bush and Obama as part of the counterinsurgency doctrine. To be fair, under the Reagan administration Marines were not allowed to have loaded weapons during their peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, and were only allowed to return fire under certain circumstances. Had the Marines pulling security outside the barracks been locked and loaded, then those 241 Marines, sailors, and soldiers probably wouldn’t have died.
After the attack, Reagan withdrew the peacekeeping force. But why send combat troops to a country that poses no significant threat to the United States in the first place? When a president feels it is necessary to handicap our military’s ability to respond to deadly force in a particular theater, then we probably shouldn’t send men with guns in the first place.
In an age of terrorism, I wholeheartedly support counterterrorism. There are plenty of people who not only feel divinely inspired to kill innocent Americans, but also seek to do so. They must be stopped. But when we go beyond intelligence and special operations – putting “boots on the ground” – there has to be a legitimate reason.
This editorial is from the February 2008 Unto the Breach Newsletter
I am hearing that the era of conservatism is over. I hear that Ronald Reagan is a once in a lifetime figure, so we might as well give up. We had our chance and blew it.
The left is trying their best to redefine conservatism. Suddenly, we are led to believe that the “new” conservatism means raising taxes, pro-choice on abortion, withdrawing from Iraq, stifling free speech, open borders, isolationism, government run healthcare, smoking bans, and gun control. We have “compassionate” conservatism (as if to imply that conservatism isn’t compassionate) and neo-conservatism, but I find it interesting that no one seems to be redefining liberalism. There is no one calling for the end of socialism, despite its miserable performance. No one is saying that the era of FDR is over. I have never heard of a neo-liberal or of compassionate liberalism.
Well, what is conservatism? Simply put, conservatives’ governing philosophy is to preserve the institutions and traditions that our country was founded upon such as liberty, limited government, and free enterprise. We believe in the power of the individual, not in massive bureaucracies. We believe that economic freedom is the key to prosperity, not income redistribution. Because of these principles, the United States grew from a fledgling British colony to the world’s superpower in less than 200 years.
We conservatives wear our philosophy proudly on our sleeves. Liberals would rather go by friendlier sounding titles like “progressives.” In fact, politicians cringe when they are called liberal. Why is it an insult for someone to call you what you are?
Conservatives run on ideas. Liberals have to disguise their intentions. For example: what is Hillary Clinton’s direction for America? Or more simply, what is her position on drivers’ licenses for illegal immigrants? They don’t want you to know their positions, and for good reason – they don’t work! In fact, when liberals run for office, they must move to the right in order to get elected. Perfect example: the 2006 midterm elections. While Republicans may have lost, conservatism did not. Democrats swept into power by running more conservative candidates like James Webb, Heath Shuler, and Claire McCaskill. If the era of conservatism was over, then the worst strategy would be for the DNC to out-conservative the Republicans.
Liberals stand for more government – the inefficient and bloated bureaucracies that only fail. What do we stand for? Ronald Reagan summed it up best: “Man is not free unless government is limited.” Conservatives don’t look at the country and see victims and despair, we see success and opportunity. We don’t need a steady supply of Americans who are dependent on the government in order to win elections. We want Americans to rise out of poverty and participate in the most vibrant economy in the world.
If anything, the era of liberalism should be over. Look at the collapse of the Soviet Union. The USSR had total state control – the left’s dream come true. Yet the Soviet Union was defeated – not by weapons, but by capitalism. North Korea cannot afford to feed its people or even light the country at night. The more freedom a society has, the more prosperous it is. If this weren’t the case, then socialist countries like the Soviet Union, North Korea, and Cuba would be the platinum standard.
The supposedly dead conservative movement does not need activist judges to circumvent the will of the people in order to advance their agenda. If liberalism is what the country wants, then let the people vote, as the Constitution says. If we are truly a dead philosophy, then the left would not have to work so hard to convince us.
Far left billionaire George Soros tells us that the era of capitalism is over. He has been beating that drum for decades, oddly enough, during the biggest economic boom in world history. Fellow billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffet want to transform capitalism. The irony is that they are assaulting the very institution in which they made their fortunes. Here’s my question to Soros: who is the Soviet counterpart to John D. Rockefeller? How about a North Korean version of Andrew Carnegie? Cuba’s Bill Gates? What contribution has socialism or liberalism made to the world, besides tyranny and genocide? Fact is, without the free market economy that conservatives stand for, there is no motivation for people to take risks and revolutionalize the world on the scale of America’s entrepreneurs.
I want to know what has led to the end of conservatism. If anything, we are seeing the failure of liberalism. Conservative talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh have millions of devoted listeners while the liberal Air America fails. The War on Poverty, bringing peace to Vietnam and Cambodia, the luxury tax, the AMT – all great ideas, right? Socialized healthcare programs are in retreat in several countries, returning to the private sector. Socialist nations like China are experiencing booms by instituting free market capitalism. Tell me, if our time is up, what has replaced it?
Just because the Republican Party has largely forgotten its principles is no reason to abandon the core philosophy. You can kill the party, but you can’t kill the movement. The Republican Party may have forgotten its base, but once they come to their senses, we will be here right here waiting. It is high time Republicans abandoned the “pale pastels” of consensus, compromise, and appealing to moderates and liberals. It is time to return to the “bold colors” of conservatism.
The conservative movement is not dead, it is just waiting for leadership.
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