Before the 1975 Civil War, Lebanon enjoyed generally good official relations with the United States. In large measure, these ties were promoted by the sizable Lebanese-American community. One incident that weakened these relations was the United States role in the 1958 Civil War. At that time, the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower dispatched a unit of United States Marines to aid the government of President Shamun. Shamun's regime was under pressure from a part of the Muslim community to strengthen ties to Egypt and Syria, which had just formed the United Arab Republic and were considered by some to be in the "radical Arab" camp. The Marines were never engaged in battle and were withdrawn soon after their arrival. Even so, many Lebanese and other Arab states viewed the United States action as interference in Lebanon's internal affairs.
In the early 1980s, following the worst fighting of the 1975 Civil War, the United States became involved in Lebanon in several ways. On the political level, it sought to bolster the presidency of Amin Jumayyil and to broker a treaty between Lebanon and Israel. On the military level, the United States hoped to keep peace as part of the MNF. On the economic level, the United States planned to assist in Lebanon's reconstruction. These tasks were never completed, however. The United States support for the pro-Jumayyil, Christian brigades of the Lebanese Army during the 1983-84 Mountain War turned into a fiasco. Not only did the United States lose two aircraft to ground fire, but the shelling of Druze and Shia population centers by the U.S.S. New Jersey convinced most Lebanese Muslims that the United States had taken the Christian side. Likewise, by 1984, in the face of renewed fighting, the business of reconstruction became a faint hope. The attacks on the United States embassy and annex, and on the MNF contingent, and the kidnapping of United States citizens eventually forced the administration of President Ronald Reagan to minimize United States involvement in the increasingly ungovernable Lebanese state.
|Country Studies main page | Lebanon Country Studies main page|