1983-84: U.S. Withdrawal From Lebanon

Shortly after the U.S. military was sent into Lebanon’s civil war, hundreds of Americans were killed in a suicide bombing. After taking conflicting positions, Joe Biden wanted the U.S. to get out.

An American Marine Second Lieutenant stands with his back to rescue workers swarming the ruins of the American embassy after a suicide bomber attacked killing 63, including 17 Americans among them CIA station chief Robert Ames, Beirut, April 18, 1983. The US Marines were there as part of the failed Multinational Force peacekeeping intervention in the Lebanese Civil War. FDM-1349-8.  (Photo by Francoise De Mulder/Roger Viollet via Getty Images)
A U.S. Marine and rescue workers are seen at the ruins of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, following a suicide bombing attack on April 18, 1983. Photo: Francoise De Mulder/Roger Viollet via Getty Images

On October 23, 1983, a series of buildings used by a U.S.-led multinational military force in Beirut were attacked with two truck bombs driven by suicide bombers. Among the sites hit was a barrack housing U.S. Marines. More than 240 U.S. personnel were killed, the vast majority of them Marines, along with 51 French soldiers and a half-dozen civilians. Following his earlier conflicting public positions on Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which eventually led to the deployment of U.S. forces, Joe Biden joined calls for the U.S. to withdraw its forces after the terrorist attacks. “We’ve got to change this crazy policy,” he said. “It’s the wrong policy, in the wrong country, at the wrong time. Our objectives have not been achieved, and it is time to change our role.” Biden told Reagan, “It’s time to bring those Marines back, and it’s time for us to have a coherent foreign policy. We don’t have one.” Biden introduced a Senate resolution aimed at securing “the prompt withdrawal of the multinational force from Lebanon.”

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