Journal Article - Intelligence and National Security

Reflections on Beirut Rules: the wider consequences of US foreign and security policy in Lebanon in the 1980s

| May 19, 2020

The dispatch of US Marines in 1958 and 1983: divergent reactions and new political forces

On 14 July 1958, a group of Iraqi Free Officers removed the pro-British Hashemite Monarchy in a swift coup d’état.1 Only 24 hours after the successful military coup turned revolution in Iraq, US President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the Sixth Fleet and thousands of US Marines and troops to storm the beaches of Lebanon.2 In hindsight, the purpose of Operation Blue Bat, the codename of America’s first massive military operation in the Middle East, was to shore up Lebanon’s pro-Western regime, maintain the flow of oil from the Arab and Persian Gulf to Western Europe and Japan, and demonstrate US credibility to allies in the region and elsewhere.3

Two excerpts from 1966 and 2018 recreate the reactions to US invading forces in 1958. The first, by Jack Shulimson at the US Department of the Navy, narrates the initial perceptions of US Marines once they disembarked from their amphibious vehicles: ‘Further along the beach, some vacationers were enjoying the sun and others were swimming in the Mediterranean. It was a peaceful scene entirely divorced from revolutions, coup d’états, and the troubles of the cold war.’4 The second and more recent account, by Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution, reflects that ‘the landing was almost comic. The Marines expected D-Day. Instead they encountered Lebanese girls and tourists in bikinis and boys selling soft drinks and cigarettes.’5 Apart from these broad accounts of the reactions to the landing of thousands of foreign troops in Lebanon, the relative success of this US military operation set a dangerous precedent for the future use of force and wars in the Middle East and beyond.6 The success of the swift military operation, especially the lack of any serious opposition let alone armed resistance, to US forces led to a series of serious misconceptions that largely informed American foreign policy and intelligence activities for decades to follow. This persisted until the major suicide bombing attack against the US Embassy in Lebanon on 18 April 1983 – a major turning point that demonstrated how different the reactions were to the presence of American military forces, intelligence officials, diplomats, journalists, and academicians between 1958 and 1983.7 It also revealed how legions of US intelligence officers, diplomats, and policymakers had failed to understand how the political and security climate in Lebanon had changed since 1958.8

Fred Burton and Samuel M. Katz’s Beirut Rules: The Murder of a CIA Station Chief and Hezbollah’s War against America and the West is one of the most recent contributions to relations between the United States and Lebanon in the 1980s. Specifically, it is the first major attempt to recount the life and death of William Francis Buckley, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) station chief in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War between 1983 and 1985. Some background information on Buckley (1928–1985) is in order here. Buckley served in Korea as an officer in the United States army and later in Vietnam as a paramilitary Officer in the CIA’s Special Activities Division. Accordingly, Chuck Cogan, the division chief of the Near East and South Asia Division in the Directorate of Operations at CIA, recommended Buckley for the position of ‘station chief’ in Beirut primarily because of his experience in ‘stress-filled’ and battlefield environments, including Korea and Vietnam (pp. 78–79). While Buckley operated in Beirut under his cover as political officer in the US Embassy in Lebanon, he was snatched by a ‘new’ political movement on the Lebanese scene, the militant group Hezbollah, on 16 March 1984. He was then held hostage by the group and brutally tortured until he died in June 1985.

In this wide-ranging book, the co-authors – who are experts and practitioners in the fields of intelligence, security, and counterterrorism – not only chronicle the life and death of Buckley, but also explore the rise of Hezbollah in Lebanon to discuss the origins of the ‘war’ between the Lebanese militant party and the United States. To this end, they narrate what they view as Hezbollah’s role in planning and executing attacks against US personnel in Lebanon and around the globe, during the 1980s and afterward.9

This article proceeds in the following manner. The first section focuses on the scope and contributions of Beirut Rules. The subsequent sections discuss some of the book’s limitations with regard to a number of debates that could, and should, have better engaged with. Specifically, it addresses how Beirut Rules could have benefited from drawing more extensively on the relevant literatures in Security and Intelligence Studies. It likewise demonstrates how the book could have better engaged with the subfields of American Foreign Relations and Middle Eastern studies. The article then proceeds to demonstrate how the book does not properly address revisionist and postcolonial scholarship on the Cold War. It then concludes by explaining how future scholarship can address the theoretical and empirical limitations in Beirut Rules.

The scope and contributions of Beirut Rules

Beirut Rules is not an academic book, but its focus on the complicated relationship between the US and Lebanon in the 1980s and beyond, as well as the broad narratives of the hostage-taking era during the Lebanese Civil War, encourages future and deeper research on these issues. Burton and Katz piece together major events that preceded the abduction of Buckley in 1984 and ones that unraveled after his death. In particular, they focus on the multiple suicide bombing attacks on the US Embassy in Beirut in April 1983 (chapter 3) and against the US Marines stationed at Beirut Airport in October 1983, as well as against the multinational forces, from France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States, that had been dispatched to Lebanon (chapter 7). Much of this has been discussed in Kai Bird’s The Good Spy, a thrilling account of the life and death of Robert Ames, a CIA intelligence officer in Lebanon. Bird’s volume is particularly good on Ames’ role in creating a back-channel between the CIA and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).10

Beirut Rules is an interesting read for practitioners and scholars that want to learn more about Buckley’s abduction and death, and the extent to which there is a linkage between attacks against US officers and diplomats in Lebanon and the rise of Hezbollah and its myriad network of activities in the Middle East and elsewhere. However, some of the book’s assertions and broad generalizations are troubling. The following sections therefore discuss how Beirut Rules does not draw linkages to and with several overlapping and important debates in the fields of Security and Intelligence Studies, US Foreign Relations, Middle Eastern studies, and Postcolonial Studies.

Building stronger connections to Security and Intelligence Studies

Beirut Rules is not for a purely academic audience; nonetheless, the scholars engage, albeit in rather shallow fashion in occasion, with many debates and issues that scholars of Security and Intelligence Studies have been researching and writing about for years. These include debates on cognitive biases in intelligence analysis, the uneasy relationship between policymakers and intelligence officials, and the role of leaders and their mindsets.11 It is surprising that the co-authors of Beirut Rules, well-versed in the fields of security and intelligence, did not draw on their vast experience to properly contribute to important debates in both academic and policy circles.

One missed opportunity for Burton and Katz relates to the fact that the co-authors only seem to have glanced over the complex nature of relationships between US policymakers in Washington, and diplomats and intelligence officers in the field. With the exception of a few and minor assertions (pp. 118–120), the authors did not properly address the factors that prevented American officials in Washington and elsewhere from making informed assessments of the political and security climate in Lebanon and the region. Did American officials fall victim to preconceived notions and biases of political actors and developments in Lebanon? Many scholars and practitioners in Security and Intelligence Studies address the sources of misperception in international politics and how to mitigate some cognitive biases.12 They should have been consulted by Burton and Katz. In addition, the co-authors of Beirut Rules could have availed themselves of literatures that focus on the role of leaders and their varied mindsets and belief systems to better explain how the human mind plays a significant role in how human beings interpret and frame existing and new information.13

Another important issue that Beirut Rules could have given more attention to relates to the broader discussion of the recurrent suicide bombing attacks against US personnel and installations in Lebanon during the civil war. Were both policymakers in Washington and/or diplomats and intelligence officers in the field aware of the larger historical context that informed relations between Lebanon and the United States? Scholars of intelligence, security studies, history, and psychology focus on whether human beings can ‘learn’ from the past to better understand the wider context of threats and policy concerns.14 Burton and Katz simply recount the multiple attacks against the US officials and buildings in Lebanon, as well as similar operations against Israeli occupying forces, without addressing whether there was a serious attempt to learn from the past and increase the level of preparedness against similar threats. This is surprising especially that Burton and Katz provided a detailed account of the 11 September 2012 attacks against US officials and outposts in Benghazi, Libya.15 Given the similarity between incidents in Beirut in 1983 and the climate in Benghazi, especially as it pertains to the low level of policymaker receptivity and readiness to bolster the security of US outposts, one would expect that the co-authors would strive to examine the underlying factors that prevent top US echelons from heeding advice and warnings from the field. Another important opportunity would have been to question whether states are able to effectively deter non-state actors and prevent attacks.16

On a related note, the authors admit that both Israeli and American officials were limited in their ability to extract reliable and timely information from human sources of intelligence. However, they do not properly unpack why US intelligence activities were limited and how the continuous US support for most Israeli military operations in Lebanon, including the occupation of southern Lebanon at the time, contributed to growing Lebanese dissatisfaction with US policy and resentment towards their actions.17 Some questions that should been raised and possibly answered: was US foreign policy too supportive of Israeli motives and actions in Lebanon, including the occupation of southern Lebanon and the fact that many Lebanese communities, including both Christians and Muslims, suffered under Israeli hegemony and consequently, became more resentful towards the US? Importantly, were American officials too dependent on Israeli sources of intelligence to interpret political and security developments in Lebanon? A clearer focus on the intelligence environment in which American officials were working and seeking to ‘connect the dots’ between different developments in Lebanon is taken for granted and the co-authors could have easily elaborated on this tenuous and critical climate and the extent of US-Israeli security cooperation.18 Furthermore, a deeper focus on the wider consequences of Israel’s occupation of Beirut in 1982 could likewise demonstrate how and why many political actors and movements in Lebanon had become much more critical of US policies and actions.19

Multiple storylines and the missing linkages to US Foreign Relations and Middle Eastern Studies

Based on the book’s title it seems at first glance that Burton and Katz were determined to chronicle the life and death of Buckley whilst, in some implicit form, tackling the shortcomings of US policy in the Middle East, particularly Lebanon. This would have been a welcome and much-needed intervention, and thematically similar to other accounts of intelligence officers in the Middle East.20 Instead, the authors digressed and rather tackled several intertwined storylines that are overwhelmingly difficult to process meticulously in one single book. Accordingly, Beirut Rules is an ahistorical account that does not properly consider how earlier critical junctures informed the various narratives that compose the volume.

Certain of the storylines in Beirut Rules include the rise of Hezbollah and the many operations against Israeli occupying forces in Lebanon.21 The co-authors also detail the attacks, mostly attributing them to Hezbollah, against the US Embassy and other installations, the assassination of Malcolm Kerr, President of the American University of Beirut in January 1984 (pp. 124–125), and the abduction of several American and Western soldiers, diplomats, and journalists during the Lebanese Civil War.22 The book even briefly touches on the assassination of Prime Minister Rafic Hariri in 2005 (p. 313), the planned and alleged American-Israeli operation that killed Imad Mughniyeh (pp. 334–336), one of Hezbollah’s key military leaders and suspected architect of many of the party’s attacks in Lebanon and elsewhere, in Damascus in 2008.23 Burton and Katz even provide a somewhat critical take on the state of relations between the US and Iran, notably as one of Hezbollah’s chief sponsors, after the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2015 (pp. 346–347).24 The troubling aspect of weaving these storylines into a coherent whole is that such a process seemed to have prevented Burton and Katz from providing a detailed narrative set in the larger historical context of the many issues covered here. The result is a thin discussion of a multitude of issues that deserve more attention.

A clearer focus on American Foreign Relations and the entangled world of statecraft, intelligence, and foreign relations was warranted in the writing of Beirut Rules.25 There was little attempt to properly discuss the wider framework of US policy in the Middle East and Lebanon, especially in the years before and leading up to the civil war.26 For example, the authors barely touch on energy security and the importance of the ‘oil factor’ for US policymakers and their foreign policies – something that dates back to the first half of the 20th century.27 An informed discussion of US oil interests could have at least demonstrated that the United States supported pro-Western factions in Lebanon and other Middle Eastern states for decades before the 1980s.28 The reader is left wondering what truly informed US foreign policy and intelligence operations in Lebanon in the early 1980s and how the Reagan administration interpreted the region and formulated policy. In short, some understanding of the operational details of the different US missions in Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War was needed.29 This would also have assisted Burton and Katz in their discussion of what they perceive as the emergence of terrorist cells in Lebanon and the missions of the US Marines as peacekeepers. It would also have been good to know more of the competition between the members of the Reagan administration and their perception of the reasons for the failure or success of US policy in Lebanon.30 In fact, in hindsight, we know that policymakers were aware of the limits of their policies in Lebanon and subsequent actions, and yet, were reluctant to come to terms with this reality primarily because of preexisting beliefs on the viability of biased policy views.31

The authors do not properly and fully address the fact that the US was not an impartial actor in many of the important junctures in the modern political history of Lebanon, including the Lebanese Civil War in 1958 and the second civil war between 1975 and 1990. By examining how and why the US support for some factions against other domestic groups, one could better understand the reasons and factors that led to growing resentment towards the United States. For example, the US supported pro-Western factions against popular Arab revolutionary movements to prevent the emergence of an anti-Western front in the Middle East and North Africa for most of the Cold War.32 Moreover, the multifaceted and often inconsistent dimensions of US foreign policy in Lebanon, whereby US officials would cultivate relationships with groups across the political aisle, should have been properly examined in Beirut Rules.33 CIA intelligence officers openly cultivated channels of communication with PLO leaders, officials in right wing Christian militias, and Israeli military commanders and diplomats. These relationships accurately reflected the ambiguous, and often seemingly contradictory, nature of the actions of US representatives doing what they ‘needed to do’ in order to further US interests. Alas, the overlapping and inconsistent patterns of relationships between American officials in the field with different political actors and movements are not fully explored in Beirut Rules. Burton and Katz do not paint the full picture of the mixed motives and intentions of US foreign policy in Lebanon. If they had done so it would have better contextualized Buckley’s story and that of Hezbollah. Against this backdrop, it is important to note that the United States approved the shipment of arms and ammunition between Israel and several political movements in Lebanon, primarily some right-wing Christian political parties and militias, before and during the civil war that erupted in 1975.34 Consequently, these findings, supported by archival records from US Presidential Libraries and other repositories, could have better informed the shallow discussion in Beirut Rules of how and why many factions in Lebanon grew suspicious of US actions in Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War, especially why many political actors, including Hezbollah and various secular movements, did not perceive the US Marines as peacekeeping missions.

In this context, and especially with regard to the role of Hezbollah, Burton and Katz strive to portray the relationship between Buckley and Mughniyeh as one that is representative of the wider war between the United States and Iran. The authors’ fascination with Mughniyeh and their intent to underscoring his role in almost every planned bombing, assassination, and operation against US and Israeli targets in Lebanon, Argentina, and elsewhere portrays him as ever-present.35 In truth, while one cannot deny the importance of Mughniyeh and his role with Hezbollah, it is important to stick to the historical record, which is too often neglected in this book, to accurately assess the extent of his real role. A more nuanced appreciation of the role of various political movements during the Lebanese Civil War, as well an understanding of the fluid and continuously changing alliances between them and foreign states, would prevent the linkage of every failed and successful bombing attack to a single group.36

Robert Pape has demonstrated that at least 71% of suicide attacks in Lebanon between 1982 and 1986 were carried out by members of ‘secular groups [such as the Lebanese Communist Party, the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party, and others] with no commitment to religious extremism of any kind.’37 Moreover, many scholarly accounts concur that Hezbollah ‘was an umbrella organization compromising a variety of disparate sub-groups in a loose working relationship.’38 By emphasizing Mughniyeh’s role, Burton and Katz are guilty of overselling one particular individual and political party at the expense of providing a nuanced narrative of the challenges Buckley faced. This is also crucial to an assessment of whether the United States Government could have formulated better policies to maybe prevent, or at least contain, such gruesome attacks and assassinations in the Middle East and elsewhere. Importantly, Beirut Rules contributes to existing narratives that frame the conflict between the West, primarily the US, and the Middle East as one that is purely imbedded in a ‘clash of civilizations’ and mainly a war between the West and Islam. Such a characterization does not address the shortcomings of US foreign policy in Lebanon and the Middle East, and how the region’s inhabitants perceived US actions. A broader discussion of earlier US actions and interests in Lebanon could have elucidated why American diplomats, military personnel, diplomats, academics, and other bystanders came under attack on the streets of Beirut and elsewhere.39

The importance of incorporating postcolonial frames of the Cold War

Apart from the book’s many redacted sections40 that disrupt the flow of the prose and thus, fail to provide scholars and practitioners new bits and pieces of information on important issues, the most troubling aspect of the book relates to the research methodology employed by Burton and Katz. It is clear that there is an alarmingly high incidence of cultural bias that informed the narrative of Beirut Rules. For example, when the co-authors describe how members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps were dispatched to Lebanon to support armed Islamist factions that would later become Hezbollah, they assert that the Americans and Israelis were paying little attention to new developments and that ‘once again the Shiites had gone unnoticed’ (pp. 20–21) This excerpt demonstrates that Burton and Katz falsely assume that the Shiite community in Lebanon is not only homogenous but also unequivocally supportive of Hezbollah – neither of which is, in fact, the case.

Beirut Rules seems content to assume that the mobilization of the Shiite community and many others, including both Muslims and Christians, against the presence of foreign forces in Lebanon, was simply the result of the Iranian Revolution and their support of different movements in the Middle East. Consequently, it is clear that the book does not draw on the larger history of revolutionary movements and political factions in Lebanon that predate Hezbollah and well before the revolution in Iran.41 Elsewhere it is stated that the PLO and other Palestinian groups ‘hosted a network of terrorist universities throughout Lebanon that attracted wanted men and women-revolutionaries and KGB-financed freedom fighters.’ (pp. 22–23). Apart from the fact that there were many revolutionary movements in Lebanon, including both Palestinian and Lebanese, that are not considered as ‘terrorist organizations,’ the co-authors fall victim to simple binaries that characterize every single development through Cold War lens, viz. casting all events as being part of a battle between the United States and the Soviet Union.

By drawing attention to the linkages between Palestinian groups and the KGB, Burton and Katz strive to connect events in Lebanon in the 1980s to their overarching view of the war between the West, mainly the United States, and Iran and others in the non-Western sphere. This view does not fully consider the complexity and perils of describing and analyzing events, especially in hindsight and as the co-authors do, along these binary frames of analysis. In adopting a Cold War lens, the co-authors have resurrected visions of the Middle East that have been systematically debunked by revisionist and postcolonial scholars of the region.42 The postcolonial shift, which really began with the publication of Edward Said’s Orientalism in 1978, informed a vast volume of interdisciplinary books and journal articles that scoured declassified records, scrutinized the constructs of language and cultural biases, and analyzed the implicit and explicit dimensions of power between actors in the Orient and the Occident.43 In fact, scholars are actively revisiting and rewriting the political history of US-Middle East and US-Arab relations to better account for the multiple racist and cultural biases that have informed past scholarship.44 Beirut Rules ignores all such accounts and, instead, falls into old traditional orientalist tropes of writing on the Middle East.

The lack of documentary evidence and sources

It is important to note that some sections of the book, particularly ones related to the life of Buckley, are supported by interviews with the Station Chief’s colleagues in the US Government, friends, and family. Elsewhere, the book draws on policy memos and other declassified sources that have become available to researchers interested in examining some of the dimensions of US foreign policy in the Middle East during the latter years of the Cold War. That said, many of the statements made in Beirut Rules are not properly supported by evidence. For example, the narrative dealing with the moments before Buckley was abducted and the assassination of Kerr (p. 125), as well as Buckley’s state of mind (pp. 184–186) during captivity, are impossible to corroborate. This difficulty does not simply stem from a lack of sources – it is also a reflection of certain witness accounts that have perished with such individuals. Burton and Katz are guilty of providing ‘new’ and exaggerated information on events that will never find adequate support in credible sources, and importantly, and have opted for sometimes describing incidents in a manner that is better suited to a spy thriller than for a serious study of the complexities of modern conflict.

Other portions of Burton and Katz’s narrative are problematic from a gender point of view. This is not completely unrelated to a not untypical sexualization and fetishism of Arabs that often infuses Orientalist accounts. For example, the authors describe how ‘some women in the camps [training bases for the PLO in Lebanon] were European or Asian – underground diehards determined to learn the A to Z of guerrilla warfare and revolution and have a good time in the process.’ (p. 27) Moreover, Burton and Katz continue their description of the training camps as party hotspots ‘with drugs and alcohol everywhere’ where ‘women trainees, according to reports, were sexually assaulted to stiffen their resolve.’ (p. 27) The co-authors also expand on Mughniyeh’s training with the Fatah movement, the largest faction of the PLO, and reflect that ‘women in tank tops who smoked hash were something new to the young Shiite recruit from Tayr Dibba [the village where Mughniyeh was born in southern Lebanon].’ (p. 27). Apart from building on Bird’s account of Mughniyeh and how he stood out from other trainees, all of the assertions on alcohol, drugs, sexual rape and assault, and the sexual objectification of ‘European or Asian’ women are not supported by any relevant evidence.45

Burton and Katz tread uneasily between reflecting on their recollections of events in the Middle East during their careers and presenting new narratives on the tense and complex diplomatic relations between Lebanon and the United States towards the end of the Cold War. Many of these narratives are personal views and yet, they are still presented as hard facts throughout the book without proper documentary supporting evidence.

A revisionist account of Buckley’s death and the shortcomings of US policy

A statement released on 16 March 2014, on the 30th anniversary of Buckley’s abduction, by CIA and its director at the time, John Brennan, remembered the slain CIA Chief in Beirut as a ‘legend … that continues to captivate and inspire a younger generation of officers.’46 Buckley is buried at Arlington National Cemetery and is commemorated with a star on the Memorial Wall – one of 113 commemorating fallen officers of the CIA – at the headquarters of the agency in Langley, VA. His life and career tells us a great deal about the United States in the Cold War. In addition to recounting Buckley’s life and death, Beirut Rules also merits some consideration for its insights into the rise, significance and role of Hezbollah, as well as of the multilayered and complicated hostage-taking era in Lebanon during the civil war. That said, any account of the life and death of Buckley cannot be divorced from the wider context of misperceptions that informed US policy and subsequent actions at the time. As this review article suggests, there are many theoretical and empirical issues as to how and why the co-authors navigated through a myriad of important storylines and in the manner in which they substantiated their claims, as well as the manner in which some culturally biased assertions were manifested.

Despite some very problematic issues with Beirut Rules, scholars and practitioners will find interest in many of the topics discussed by the co-authors. Moreover, the declassification of additional US government records will undoubtedly invite scholars and practitioners to build on and better engage with many of the storylines in Beirut Rules and critical issues that warrant further attention for a clearer and revisionist understanding of the shortcomings of US foreign policy in Lebanon and the Middle East at the time. Future scholarship that employs innovative methodologies from a cross-section of scholarly fields whilst drawing on the requisite primary and secondary sources, will undoubtedly allow scholars and practitioners to better understand how US foreign policy and wars in the Middle East and elsewhere are entrenched in unfortunate misperceptions of local actors and political movements from the Cold War to present day. This was certainly the case in the Cold War, although many of these failings in policy and practice persist to this day.


1. Romero, The Iraqi Revolution of 1958: A Revolutionary Quest for Unity and Security; Fernea and Louis, The Iraqi Revolution of 1958: The Old Social Classes Revisited; Louis and Owen, eds., A Revolutionary Year: The Middle East in 1958; and Karam, ed., The Middle East in 1958: Reimagining A Revolutionary Year.

2. Attié, Struggle in the Levant: Lebanon in the 1950s; Gendzier, Notes from the Minefield: United States Intervention in Lebanon and the Middle East, 1945–1958; Wolfe-Hunnicutt, “Embracing Regime Change in Iraq: American Foreign Policy and the 1963 Coup d”état in Baghdad,”; and Karam, “Missing Revolution: The American Intelligence Failure in Iraq, 1958.”

3. Karam, The Middle East in 1958, especially chapter 4 on the US military operation in Lebanon and the precedent it created for future ‘limited wars’ and military interventions in the Middle East and beyond.

4. Shulimson, Marines in Lebanon, 1958, 11.

5. Riedel, “1958: When America First Went to War in the Middle East,” Brookings, 2 July 2018,…(accessed 17 April 2020).

6. Little, American Orientalism: The United States and the Middle East since 1945, 235–37. For a good discussion of the Vietnam War and US decision-making see Bakich, Success and Failure in Limited War: Information and Strategy in the Korean, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, and Iraq Wars; Preston, Pandora’s Trap: Presidential Decision Making and Blame Avoidance in Vietnam and Iraq; and Logevall, Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam.

7. See Geyelin, “Lebanon–1958 and Now,” Washington Post, 3 August 1982, for an interesting and sobering (at the time) discussion of the differences between 1985 and 1982-when the US Marines were dispatched to Lebanon during the civil war. 17 April 2020).

8. For a brief discussion of the introduction of US Marines in 1958 and why there were ‘no casualties’, see Frank, US Marines in Lebanon, 1982–1984. Frank’s focus on 1958 is part of a broader attempt to understand the difficulties that US Marines and troops faced during the Lebanese Civil War.

9. See Levitt, Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God for an overview of Hezbollah’s activities in Lebanon, Europe, and elsewhere. Levitt outlines the difficulty of finding reputable and ‘open-sources’ on Hezbollah’s clandestine activities, and hence, explains how he was able to retrace some of the party’s activities through interviews, press reports, declassified documents, and secondary sources.

10. Bird, The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames; and Karam, “Review of Kai Bird, The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames.”

11. There are numerous articles and books that tackle these issues. For example, see Heuer and Pherson, eds., Structured Analytic Techniques for Intelligence Analysis; Rovner, Fixing the Facts: National Security and the Politics of Intelligence; and Jervis, How Statesmen Think: The Psychology of International Politics.

12. Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics; McDermott, Political Psychology in International Relations; McDowell, Strategic Intelligence: A Handbook for Practitioners, Managers, and Users; Marrin, “Why Strategic Influence Has Limited Influence on American Foreign Policy”; and Rezk, The Arab World and Western Intelligence: Analysing the Middle East, 1956–1981.

13. Yarhi-Milo, Knowing the Adversary: Leaders, Intelligence, and Assessment of Intentions in International Relations; McDermott, Political Psychology in International Relations: Keren Yarhi-Milo, Who Fights for Reputation: The Psychology of Leaders in International Conflict.

14. Bar-Joseph and McDermott, Intelligence Success and Failure: The Human Factor; Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics; Jervis, How Statesmen Think; Dahl, Intelligence and Surprise Attack: Failure and Success from Pearl Harbor to 9/11 and Beyond; Karam, “Review of Erik J. Dahl, Intelligence and Surprise Attack: Failure and Success from Pearl Harbor to 9/11 and Beyond,”; Jervis, Why Intelligence Fails: Lessons from the Iranian Revolution and the Iraq War; and Betts, Enemies of Intelligence: Knowledge and Power in American National Security.

15. Burton and Katz, Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi.

16. For a discussion of the limits of deterrence with regards to non-state actors and ‘new’ evolving threats see Wenger, ed., Deterring Terrorism: Theory and Practice; Filippidou, Deterrence: Concepts and Approaches for Current and Emerging Threats; Lebovic, Deterring International Terrorism and Rogue States: US National Security Policy after 9/11; Knopf, “The Fourth Wave in Deterrence Research”; Bowen, “Deterrence and Asymmetry: Non-State Actors and Mass Casualty Terrorism.”

17. Varady, US Foreign Policy and the Multinational Force in Lebanon: Vigorous Self-Defense, 127–28; Saad-Ghorayeb, Hizbu’llah: Politics and Religion, especially chapter 5. For a discussion of American-Israeli relations and the role and influence of pro-Israeli lobby groups on the making of US foreign policy see Mearsheimer and Walt, The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy; and Sheffer, ed., Dynamics of Dependence: US-Israeli Relations.

18. Schulze, Israel’s Covert Diplomacy in Lebanon; and Puschel, US-Israeli Strategic Cooperation in the Post-Cold War Era: An American Perspective.

19. Schiff and Ya’ari, Israel’s Lebanon War; Khalidi, Under Siege: P.L.O. Decisionmaking During the 1982 War; Anziska, Preventing Palestine: A Political History from Camp David to Oslo, especially chapter 6; Chomsky, Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians, especially chapters 5 and 6.

20. Bird, The Good Spy.

21. Norton, Hezbollah: A Short History, 30–33; Harik, Hezbollah: The Changing Face of Terrorism, 27–28. In a discussion of the ‘origins of Hezbollah,’ Norton also draws on Ehud Barak’s, former Israeli Prime Minister, comments to Newsweek on 18 July 2006, to explain the connection between the presence of Israeli occupying forces and how ‘it provided the context for Hezbollah to grow.’ However, it is important to note that Norton, Harik, and others demonstrate that the ‘origins of Hezbollah’ are not simply a reaction to Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon but is in rooted in the longer political history of disenfranchisement in Lebanon.

22. Norton, Hezbollah: A Short History, 78. This draws on Robert Baer, a former CIA Agent, to explain that Hezbollah was not responsible for the ‘US Embassy in 1983 or the Marines. It was the Iranians.’ For an overview of Malcolm Kerr’s assassination, based on two of his relatives and an American journalist that was taken hostage in Lebanon in 1985, see Anderson, Den of Lions; Kerr, Come with Me from Lebanon: An American Family Odyssey; van de Ven, One Family’s Response to Terrorism: A Daughter’s Memoir.

23. See Bergman, Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations (Hachette UK, 2018), especially chapter 34, for an extensive discussion of how Israeli intelligence organizations, AMAN and Mossad, collected information on ‘Maurice,’ codename of Imad Mughnieh, and later assassinated the Hezbollah leader in Damascus. The chapter also touches on American involvement and legal constraints that both CIA and the Bush Administration discussed. For more on the assassination of Hariri and some of his policies and positions in Lebanon see Baumann, Citizen Hariri: Lebanon’s Neo-Liberal Reconstruction; and Blanford, Killing Mr Lebanon: The Assassination of Rafik Hariri and Its Impact on the Middle East.

24. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – which is also widely known as the ‘Iran nuclear deal’ – is a multilateral agreement on the whole question of the Iranian nuclear program. It was signed by Iran and the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), as well as Germany and the European Union.

25. For a multidisciplinary overview of American Foreign Relations see Costigliola and Hogan, eds., Explaining the History of American Foreign Relations. For some interesting accounts on US-Middle East relations Khalidi, Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East; Khalidi, Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and America’s Perilous Path in the Middle East; Bacevich, America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History; Hahn, Crisis and Crossfire: The United States and the Middle East Since 1945 Hahn, Caught in the Middle East: US Policy toward the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1945–1961;and Khalil, America”s Dream Palace: Middle East Expertise and the Rise of the National Security State.

26. Stocker, Spheres of Intervention: US Foreign Policy and the Collapse of Lebanon, 1967–1976.

27. Gendzier, Notes from the Minefield; Gendzier, Dying to Forget: Oil, Power, Palestine, and the Foundations of US Policy in the Middle East; Vitalis, America’s Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier; Citino, From Arab Nationalism to OPEC: Eisenhower, King Sa’ud, and the Making of US-Saudi Relations. For a critical take on the ‘oil’ factor and the view of ‘oil for security,’ especially in the context of the ‘US-Saudi special relationship’ see the forthcoming book Vitalis, Oilcraft: The Myths of Scarcity and Security That Haunt U.S. Energy Policy.

28. Pearson, In the Name of Oil: Anglo-American Relations in the Middle East, 1950–1958; Gendzier, Dying to Forget; Vitalis, America’s Kingdom; Citino, From Arab Nationalism to OPEC; Bini, Giuliano Garavini, and Romero, eds., Oil Shock: The 1973 Crisis and Its Economic Legacy; Gendzier, Notes from the Minefield; Jeff Colgan, Petro-Aggression: When Oil Causes War; and Cooper, The Oil Kings: How the US, Iran, and Saudi Arabia Changed the Balance of Power in the Middle East.

29. Sloyan, When Reagan Sent In the Marines: The Invasion of Lebanon; Olson, The Attack on US Marines in Lebanon on 23 October 1983; Frank, US Marines in Lebanon, 1982–1984; and Geraghty USMC (Ret.), Peacekeepers at War: Beirut 1983 – The Marine Commander Tells His Story.

30. Evans, and Potter, “When Do Leaders Change Course? Theories of Success and the American Withdrawal from Beirut, 1983–1984,” Texas National Security Review 2, no. 2 (February 2019), 17 April 2020).

31. For an overview of discussions between policymakers in Washington on Lebanon in the 1980s see Weinberger, Fighting for Peace: Seven Critical Years in the Pentagon, especially chapter 5 on Lebanon. For an overview of how US President Ronald Reagan reflected on developments in Lebanon, especially after the suicide bombing attacks against US forces on 18 April 1983 and 23 October 1983 see Reagan, An American Life; Brinkley, ed., The Reagan Diaries. For more on the limits of US policy in Lebanon and the reasons for ‘failure’ and ‘misconceptions’ in the 1980 s, see Tyler, A World of Trouble: The White House and the Middle East: From the Cold War to the War on Terror, especially chapter 7; Yarhi-Milo, Who Fights for Reputation, 197–199; Toaldo, The Origins of the US War on Terror: Lebanon, Libya and American Intervention in the Middle East, especially chapter 2; Evans and Potter, “When Do Leaders Change Course?”.

32. Yaqub, Containing Arab Nationalism: The Eisenhower Doctrine and the Middle East; Gendzier, Notes from the Minefield; and Karam, The Middle East in 1958.

33. Bird, The Good Spy; Karam, “Review of Kai Bird, The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames”; Ignatius, Agents of Innocence: A Novel; Khalil, “The Radical Crescent: The United States, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Lebanese Civil War, 1973–1978”; Stocker, “A Historical Inevitability? Kissinger and US Contacts with the Palestinians (1973–76)”; Salem, Violence and Diplomacy in Lebanon; Hanf, Coexistence in Wartime Lebanon: Decline of a State and Rise of a Nation; and Traboulsi, A History of Modern Lebanon.

34. Khalil, “The Radical Crescent: The United States, the Palestine Liberation Organization, and the Lebanese Civil War, 1973–1978”; and Stocker, Spheres of Intervention.

35. Norton, Hezbollah, 78–79. This draws on Robert Baer to differentiate between the role of Hezbollah and that of Iran in planning and carrying out attacks in Lebanon.

36. Hanf, Coexistence in Wartime Lebanon.

37. Pape, Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, 204–7.

38. Pape, 204; Norton, Hezbollah, 34–35.

39. Gendzier, Notes from the Minefield; Yaqub, Containing Arab Nationalism; Karam, The Middle East in 1958; and Alin, The United States and the 1958 Lebanon Crisis: American Intervention in the Middle East.

40. In their acknowledgements, the co-authors thank several individuals at the Central Intelligence Agency for their support. Among these individuals, Burton and Katz thank ‘Carolyn’ at the Publications Review Board (PRB), p. 354. While the co-authors do not specifically mention that Beirut Rules was submitted to the PRB, it seems that the heavily redacted sections (blacked out paragraphs, sentences, and words across the book) are likely the result of the conditions set by CIA for current and former intelligence officers that seek to publish ‘intelligence related’ materials. See “Keeping Secrets Safe: The Publications Review Board – Central Intelligence Agency.” 1 November 2018, (accessed 19 April 2020).

41. Traboulsi, A History of Modern Lebanon.

42. Makdisi, “After Said: The Limits and Possibilities of a Critical Scholarship of US-Arab Relations”; Citino, “The Middle East and the Cold War”; and Takriti, “Colonial Coups and the War on Popular Sovereignty.”

43. Said, Orientalism; Sanjay Seth, Postcolonial Theory and International Relations: A Critical Introduction; Little, American Orientalism.

44. Yaqub, Imperfect Strangers: Americans, Arabs, and US–Middle East Relations in the 1970s; Makdisi, Faith Misplaced: The Broken Promise of U. S. -Arab Relations: 1820–2001; Khalil, America”s Dream Palace: Middle East Expertise and the Rise of the National Security State; and Citino, Envisioning the Arab Future: Modernization in US-Arab Relations, 1945–1967.

45. Bird, The Good Spy, 328.

46. “Remembering CIA’s Heroes: William F. Buckley – Central Intelligence Agency,” 3 June 2015, (accessed 17 April 2020).

  – Via the original publication source.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Karam, Jeffrey G. Reflections on Beirut Rules: the wider consequences of US foreign and security policy in Lebanon in the 1980s.” Intelligence and National Security, (May 19, 2020) .

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