The Past is Future
23 October 1983
In quiet solitude amid the pine trees of North Carolina a lone sentinel stands in frozen repose, a lasting testament to a worst case scenario born from the best of intentions.
On one side of the bronzed statue are a few words chiseled on a stone wall reading “THEY CAME IN PEACE.” To the other is a likewise wall containing the names of those who lost their lives in a land that had no peace, because of others far more concerned with the shedding of innocent blood.
Today marks the fortieth remembrance of why this memorial came into being, and how those lives were lost. It casts a long, lasting shadow over today’s headlines and how we as a nation, through either blatant negligence or ignorance, might be making the very same mistakes again.
As the time proven adage goes; the past is present. A badly divided country beset by weak leadership, huge increases in crime, labor strikes, inflation, riots, a war lost by feckless career politicians, an ensuing disgraceful abandonment of former allies, impeachments, and a chilling rise in the threat of domestic terrorism all ring familiar in either era.
That and another growing conflict in the Middle East. The long and often ferociously brutal fight for a Jewish homeland, emanating from a worldwide diaspora that began a thousand years before anyone ever heard of a prophet named Muhammed.
They are a tough people in a tough neighborhood, where their surrounding enemies have been repeatedly pummeled by the badly outnumbered but never outfought Hebrews. Three existential wars in only a quarter century has proven that out, with those enemies being utterly and decidedly defeated on each occasion.
New tactics were needed, and those tactics were designed to terrorize the civilian populations of Israel and break their will to resist. Such organizations possessing all sorts of names and acronyms seemed to spring up overnight, all nominally Palestinian in numbers but each tacitly supported by client states.
In the late 1960s one Arab country did something that none has done since, and for later discovered good reason. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan offered a home refuge to the Palestinians. The country’s king went as far as extending citizenship to the Palestinians, and placing their delegates in Jordan’s parliament.
At that time the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was led by Yasser Arafat, who was a near perfect caricature of those who followed him. That remark is not meant in a complimentary manner, for within a few years the heretofore welcomed Palestinians attempted to overthrow the king, as well as his kingdom.
A large scale civil war ensued, with the end result being the Jordanian Army completely wiping the floor with their Palestinian opponents. You see, terrorist groups do not fare well when their would-be victims shoot back. Later, this event gave rise to yet another terrorist organization entitled Black September, whose day of infamy came in the Munich Massacre of 1972.
Yet Arafat and his followers found themselves in dire need of someplace else to go, and migrated to southern Lebanon. This prompted a civil war there, beginning in the mid-1970s. After entrenching themselves, the Palestinians began launching terrorist attacks into northern Israel.
The head came when a satellite terrorist group tried to assassinate an Israeli ambassador in 1982. The Israeli Defense Forces launched a full scale invasion and took the PLO and their terrorist umbrellas to task, much like what the Jordanian army had done twelve years prior.
At first world opinion stood mostly with Israel, due to the bloody body count of terrorist actions around the globe to further the Palestinian ‘cause.’ Even some Arab states secretly sighed in relief, as they had their own problems with Arafat and the PLO.
But if these Palestinian sourced groups had one forte, it is in how they use propaganda. Always willing and able to play the victim card, they managed to turn world opinion around before being completely annihilated.
This led to the worst mistake that President Ronald Reagan ever made. Listening to his armchair advisors and the entrenched bureaucracies of the State Department, he arranged for a peace keeping contingent of U.S. Marines to garrison Beirut.
Soon enough those same State Department officials had the Marines patrolling with empty weapons, stating that doing otherwise made them appear too ‘aggressive.’ Same with the emplaced machine gun positions, the concertina and the concrete barricades to prevent the entry of unauthorized vehicles.
A newly formed terrorist group named Hezbollah, along with their overseers from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRG), made careful note of these deficiencies in our defensive posture.
Forty years ago today, a suicide bomber at the wheel of a Mercedes truck crashed through those scant defenses. In doing so, he set off an explosion that cost more Marine lives in a single day since the Battle of Iwo Jima.
In my fourth book ‘The Uvalde Raider,’ I go into some detail of the symbiotic nature between the reigning mullahs in Iran, their Islamic Revolutionary Guard servants, and the cannon fodder provided by Hezbollah and affiliated groups such as Hamas.
The mullahs give the marching orders, the IRG the leadership, training and support and Hezbollah and their like the ready manpower for every sort of evil contrived by the human mind.
That was forty years ago, and again the past is present.
Yes, Iran was involved and as the evidence grows we will also see the hand of North Korea, Russia and Red China. It is the same script as before with the same enemies.
Meanwhile Israel mourns for their beheaded children, and their youthful flowers of womanhood repeatedly defiled, raped and then murdered.
But already comes the chorus in the refrain of the useful idiots, too many in our own country. They make every sort of lame and convoluted attempt to explain away such horrendous atrocities, and to place the blame on the Jews for simply existing.
Yes, history does repeat itself and even now world opinion is being reshaped in the thinking of utterly gullible fools, political charlatans and a mass media that gave up in the critical thinking department a long time ago.
And no, we do not need boots on the ground for any reason, including the rescue of American hostages. Most any Navy Seal or Special Forces team member will admit the Israelis are the best in the business for such circumstances. After all, they have been forced to be so for seventy-five years now.
All Israel needs from us at present is beans, bullets and bandages with no strings attached, as they will already have plenty of bad guys to go around. That and for us to keep our nerve and resolve, and to not forget we are dealing with inhuman demons who see any act of kindness or compassion as a sign of weakness to be exploited.
We need no more memorials to those who came in peace with empty weapons, and to a land not knowing the meaning of the word.
Stand tall, America.
The first duty is to remember.
Ben H. English
HS Teacher: 2008-2010
‘Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend’
‘The Uvalde Raider’
‘Black And White: Tales of the Texas Highway Patrol’