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tv   Bruce Riedel Beirut 1958  CSPAN  February 3, 2020 7:23am-8:00am EST

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that you should understand is going to generate hatred and as going to generate acts of revenge. and i do not think we have seen the end of that. i think it was just a token here we go. i think we will see more acts of revenge. to watch the rest of the program visit the website. using the box at the top of the page. >> thank you so much for coming i am honored to i am honored to introduce our author bruce riedel. he is a senior fellow in the middle east studies. has book "beirut 1958" is a
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nonfiction thriller that provides a cautionary talent for today. it is a profound understanding of the complex tapestry. in conspiracies consummating. he will be doing a presentation about his book and the topic followed by a q&a. please join me in welcoming bruce. first of all thank you for coming in july 15, 1958. the second marine regiment
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they anticipated that it would be d day d-day and they were going to be facing a hostile audience. in fact what they ran into was lebanese and other foreign tourists sunbathing on the beachst and some of them in the new invented bikini fortunately i don't have a picture of anybody in a bikini on the beach but i do have a picture of lebanese rushing to the shore fascinated by the marines. vendors charged down the beach selling coca-cola, cigarettes should warm schwalm and other lebanese delights. it turned out in large numbers to see the sights here you can see taxis pulling up.
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it was all in a way of a comic opera but everything underneath itt was deadly dangerous. the marines were landing in lebanon in 1958 in the midst of a very vicious civil war. the marines expected to go into combat and the lebanese army regarded the marines as invaders. in supporting the christian enemies. they were trying to hold onto power. in germany,o tactical nuclear weapons were being prepared to to the were being prepared to beachhead. eighty-six airborne division was put on alert in order to
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reinforce the beachhead. while there was something of a comic approach. it was the first time u.s. combat troops ever went into a mission in the middle east. our first combat mission. fortunately it turned out while only one army sergeant who died in the mission he was killed in sniper fire later on in the day and the marines were able to leave after a few months i will come back to that in a little bit. he began a tradition of american combat operations in the middle east. and of course, as we all know now subsequent missions didn't turn out as happily as they did in 1958. the second marine intervention
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in 1982 turned out in a disaster and the death of over 240 american marines. it is useful to look back on this first mission to gain some understanding into what is going on. 3:00 beirut time was six hours earlier in washington president dwight david officer got on national tv to explain why he sent marines into harm's way. a year beforee eisenhower have laid out what is now called the eisenhower doctrine the first time an american president said to the american people into the world. middle east is vital to american national interest. no president until then had ever identified middle east as important or vital. it's very interesting of what
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ike laid out for crucial interest. one is obvious oil in and the second was in the context of the cold war the united states could not allow atheists to communism to take over the birthplace of the three great religions. it's very interesting that eisenhower in 1957 did not identify the defense of israel as a strategic vital interest of the united states. no subsequent american president of course what ever look at it in those ways. on july 151958 was the ms. reed's coming ashore they gave a new explanation as to why they were there. and essentially what he said was a coup in iraq the previous day the 14th of
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july. in which the most pro- western government in the middle east have been overthrown was a direct threat to american national interest. the pro- american government in iraq t was a deposed in a very brutal and violent to even by middle eastern standards this was an exceptionally violent coup. i could identify it. perhaps the starting point of the entire middle east falling into the hands of the soviet union and international communism. if the united states did not the third world war could start in the middle east and the loss of iraq was a significant as the loss of china to communism in 1948. it's really an american --
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remarkable statement. it's also completely divorced from the facts on the ground. his statements weret the have very little to do with reality in iraq and the middle east in 1958. lesson less than forthcoming. has real concern in 1958 was not communism. charismatic young very attractive president. he have taken power in a coup in 1952 he was an extraordinary speaker. able to literally lifted audience with his he also survived literally being on stage and having an assassin fire through a bullet at him.
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he was the winner of the 1956 suez crisis in which egypt essentially defeated the united kingdom france and israel. a remarkable in part because they had leaned towards egypt nonetheless, he have come out of that a winner. in february of 1958 syria and egypt had united together. today we have kind of forgotten arab nationalism as a motivating factor. the arab nationalism and the idea of one nation from the gulf to the ocean was one of the most powerful ideologies in the world and it was at the center of death. it's ironic because nasser in
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many ways it was a protége of the cia. they did not put them in office but even before it was in contact. and they identified it. as the wave of the future the united states wanted to be on the wave of the future. and saw arab nationalism as a very effective counter to communism in the middle east. it was kemal roosevelt. the skyoosevelt is and of the roosevelt family. most famous to americans as the man who put the shop back in power in 1953 when it was
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removed from power in iraq. but that's what he's famous for. less famous for the fact that he was the initial person who dealt with noster. very shortly after taking power noster ask the cia for money in order to buy arms he is a military general who was a hero of the 1948 war against israel and naturally one of the things he wanted to do was award the egyptian army. the cia gave him a very small stipend three to $5 million depending upon the source. instead they spend the money on building a radio tower for his radio station the voice of the arabs. radio wase 1950s the equivalent of twitter today. the means of committing communicating.
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it is unknown in egypt as i want to go furthert as than that. the relationship between the united states and egypt soured over the years. they went to the russians and that really soured the relations. may 1958 the relations between the united states and egypt had deteriorated significantly as i said in february of 1958 egypt and syria united on the united power of republic. in response to that. the two of them created an alternative. on march 31958. the king of saudi arabia here
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in the middle king saud told the american ambassador that a plot was underway to overthrow the syrian government and break up the united arab republic. forty-eight hours later the intelligence service announced that they had broken up a plot to assassinate noster that was being spearheadedin by king saud. and not only do they had evidence that they intended to assassinate by blowing up the airplane they have the canceled checks signed to the plot makers. don't sign the checks. please find the cut out. saud have become by 1958 ike's favorite alternative to eisenhower.
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he was the have of saudi arabia.. it was a much more moderate pro- western version and the administration hoped that they could use him to counter president noster. he was the first saudi king to ever visit the united states. the visits were planned for nine days. p the ended up lasting 12 days. they have indicated that they would bring 80 people with them. he brought almost 200. they cannot all fit in the house. they literally set up the tents on lafayette square to house the rest of the delegation. i would like to say wined and dined. he was given great profile by
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the eisenhower administration. the failure of the plot to assassinate noster resulted in a severe throwback. the royal family within a matter of days stripped him of all of his power and gave it to the crown prince. he stayed in power as king but he was essentially powerless after that. much less favorable to the united states. that was one big setback for the united states. shortly afterwards the lebanese civil war began. that was another setback to american influence in the region. it was one of the few leaders who were as publicly endorsed
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in the eisenhower declaration in jordan. the cia uncovered a plot to overthrow king hussein at this point. he was a very inexperienced king he is running a country that is 80% palestinian. that has no support for the monarchy. they uncover the plot. by tapping the phone of the defense who was plotting with the egyptian counterpart to overthrow w the king. in late june of 1958 the cia gave all of the information to the jordanians and they the jordanians and they the king turned to hise brother-in-law the king of jordan. and ask him to see the two of
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them how remarkably young they are.e. the two of them agreed that iraq would send a better grade of the army to haman in order to help stabilize the jordanian situation. unfortunately the brigade that they selected was filled with plotters who were preparing against faisal. the plot succeeded on the 14th of july 1958 as i said earlierly i was was a very violent plot the brigade was moving through in the early morning.y i was very unusual and instead of heading towards jordan headed towards the palace and the defense ministry. they lined the entire royal family against a wall and machine gunned all of them.
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it was a really ugly event. the prime minister have been a leader of the country for 20 years a day later. he was executed on the spot and dragged through the street. the very violent and stunning blow to american interests in the middle east. you've a series of events that are all building up. and on the 14th of july comes the coup in iraq. he was a complete unknown. the americans did not know who he was. he was a complete unknown factor. the plotters may or may not
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had been pro- egyptian but people on the streets in iraq demonstrated immediately that their sympathies were with noster. here you see a picture of the streets in baghdad. filled with people holding up pictures. the tanks that overthrew the government had pictures all over them. i was not a big stretch to come to the conclusion that this was an egyptian sponsored coup. the lebanese at that point were also in the midst of the civil war this gentleman is camille chemin. he was the prime minister and the president of lebanon in the 1950sle lebanon then and today in today has a highly sectarian government. it is based on the fiction that christians are majority of the people. that was no longer true.
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but that was a government that was imposed on lebanon by the french. with the colonial master. she president had to be christian. and the speaker of parliament. the convention only served one term. it was obviously seeking a second term. everybody knew it. that resulted in the civil y r. the patriarch which was that dominant creatures -- christian church actually supported the muslim rebels so very confused situation in intricacies of it were far more than most americans even most americans with any acknowledge in the middle east. on the afternoon of the 14th of july eisenhower convened as
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national security council and he turned to the director of central intelligence to give an appraisal of the situation. remember that in the eisenhower administration we have the unusual scene that the secretary of state was the brother and director something like that has never happened again and may never happen again. they presented the most bleak picture you could possibly imagine. it would lead to the overthrow of the lebanese governor. and sooner or later to the overthrow of saudi arabia, kuwait and the gulf states. the entire region as predicted would fall into the hands of
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noster within a matter of days. unless america did something. his brother then went in. and if it falls to noster that means it falls to international communism. the middle east. it will be in the hands of the soviet union. all of this was baloney. first of all it wasn't at all clear coup in iraq was egyptian inspired and noster while he did take arms from the soviet union was not exactly a client of the soviet union. eisenhower panicked. it's very interesting to read his memoir because in his memoirs he said ies have to do something i felt. now eisenhower the hero of the
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day may be the greatest american general of the 20th century was smart enough to realize unlike some of his successors that invading iraq is a really hard thing to do. but invading lebanon is really easy to do. the united states has a large fleet in the eastern mediterranean.te they were backed up by 70 ships of the american fleet including three carrier battle groups. it was a goliath in the midget battlefield. by invading lebanon were going to the defense of camille shimon the united states was doing something to prevent noster is him w from sweeping the region. nasser was very popular in lebanon when he went to first 350,000 lebanese came to
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damascus. this is a country that have a little less than million people. that is an awful lot of people to get in their cars. the civil civil war that broke out in the spring of 1958. against camille shimon. the united arab republic. in the syrian government supported the rebels in lebanon. that was undisputed. chemin asked repeatedly for the united states to intervene on his behalf. and until the 14th of july 1958. they had to new york. they finally agreed in the following. noster for his part was in yugoslavia at the time and he immediately flew to moscow
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which the cia discovered it very quickly which of course reinforce the power of the paranoia that o they were really in the hands of the russians. the russians and the egyptians agreed that the important event in the middle east was not what was going on in beirut. the important issue was what was going on in baghdad and they decided to just let events play themselves out. they frantically tried to find who was running at the new government in baghdad. the situation on the ground in beirut was extremely dicey on the 15th and 16th. the lebanese army which is mostly christian officers and mostly muslim troops regarded the intervention as it invasion. and wasn't prepared to was prepared to fight back.
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the american ambassador on the scene robert mcclintock who advised eisenhower not to send the troops over and over again includingat on the 14th. came up with a brilliant solution. he went to the commander of the army and said why don't we pretend that you have invited the americans to come in to help stabilize the situation. and that the americans are not here because of an intervention but they are here as the gas of the lebanese army as the host. they went along with this fiction. and for the remainder of the americans deployment and beirut technically they were being escorted from place to place by patrols of the lebanese army. avoided as showdown.
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mcclintock also got the assistance of the secretary of state. the number three in the state department it was sent out by eisenhower with instructions to tell mcclintock to get on the program the program was to support shimon. he got on the ground and said i'm not stupid i will support the ambassadors effort to diffuse the conflict and together the secretary of state robert murphy and robert mcclintock began engaging with the various lebanese powers and this is a not particularly good picture of them. and what they agreed is that shimon would be removed from office and general shahada would be the next
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this is what he wanted from the beginning so in effect the american intervention in lebanon in 1958 became the instrument to accomplish at egypt had wanted all along which was getting rid of shimon they ended up that this was the smart way out of the crisis one g.i. was killed as i said in the intervention by sniper fire. but by october 25, 1958 the last american troops in the intervention had gone homehe the civil war was over. it's kind of a curious name. was more or less a success story.
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this is all about the eisenhower. in his eight years in power and avoided sending troops into combat. in the main plant communism. he generally avoided sending troops into combat. as a general he never fought in combat himself but he saw that results of combat much more than most people did and he knew he wanted to avoid that. it is the one time in those eight years when he essentially panics and decides essentially panics and decides
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murphy went on to baghdad. he discovered that costs him was an iraqi nationalist. have no interest in being upon of egypt or the soviet union and was mostly interested in running his own country. there are several things to learn from this episode but i will just focus on one. the middle east is very unpredictable place. anybody that tells you they know what it can is can happen in the middle easte doesn't know what they're talking about. many of the time they are unpleasant surprises for the united states of america.. the lesson is don't panic. let it play out. give it some time. don't necessarily reach the worst conclusion overnight. give it a little bit of time to play out. i had one more thing to say about this. one of the reasons i wrote "beirut 1958" is because i was there.
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i was five years old. that's me in the cowboy outfit. t that is my elder brother trying desperately to say i have no idea who this person is. i am no relationship with this person. my father was with the united nations we had been posted to a jerusalem when i was two years old and then we moved to beirut in 1957. beirut in the 1950s was called the paris of the middle east. and it literally was. the most open and fun place to live in the entire region beirut is right on the mediterranean with the mountainst right behind it. you literally could go swimming in the morning and skiing in the afternoon. i of course when the civil war began it all went pretty sour. in a hurry. w my mother and my brother and i
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were evacuated. to that really hard spot naples italy where we stayed with the americans until the civil war have gone down. that is my personal account of the story with that i would be happy to take your questions or your comments this question has a very complicated answer. but why do you think the civil war have set complete negotiations. that is a very good question. partly it was that you have a
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mediator in the united states who after all awkward beginning to put it mildly then shifted focus mcclintock in particular had already established a great network with the various leaders and was able to use that to its advantage in negotiations. i think even more importantly and 1958 lebanon was not a battlefield in the conflict. the palestinian movement that we know have not developed yet palestinians were just refugees in lebanon. they did not have a real political profile. once you got to the post 19th 67th here the palestinian community had staked out its own position in the conflict.
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it was a battlefield between arabs and israelis bringing in serious and making it much more complicated. to come up with a solution. >> i just want to thank you for a great presentation. we will do a signing appear as well. thank you. >> this is my first interests have been a helicopter pilot. >> your walk jean book tv. book tv television for serious readers.
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