The House rejected an effort to require the withdrawal of the Marines by early 1984, on November 2nd, 1983.
And, Senate "Democrats were unable to force a vote on a proposal, introduced on Oct. 26 as SRes253, to replace the Marines with a United Nations, or some other "neutral," force."
The primary short-term threat was that Marines had become targets in Lebanon. They were no longer the neutral forces that had been intended to be. nor, was it argued, were they the effective peacekeepers they had been sent to be. Although immediate Marine safety and effectiveness was the short-term threat, a majority still felt as Marine Corps Commandant General P.X. Kelley felt when he spoke in front of the Senate and House Armed Services committees and said, "I don't think the United States of America, the greatness country in the free world, should back off from some damn terrorist" (qtd. Felton).
The attack demonstrated the rising number of deadly terrorist attacks being directed against the United States, in the Middle East. Of considerable concern was that the United States had become a primary terrorist target in the region.
As mentioned, on April 18th, 1983, a pickup truck filled with explosives exploded outside the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. That explosion killed 63 people, including 17 Americans. On December 12th, less than two months after the bombing of the Marine barracks, an explosive-laden truck smashed into the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, as well as four other places, killing 5 people. The government felt that these attacks were indicative of the deteriorating political and military situation in Lebanon, and this was of serious concern, for both the short-term and the long-term ("Adequacy of U.S. Marine").
Threats to the United States and American forces, following the October 23rd bombings, were divided into two categories: conventional military action and terrorist tactics.
Terrorist attacks were a threat to "U.S. Embassy offices in the Duraffourd Building and co-located with the British Embassy, the U.S. Ambassador's Residence, apartments housing U.S. military and Embassy personnel, hotels housing U.S. officials, and even American University" ("Adequacy of U.S. Marine").
These terrorist threats came from a variety of sources.
Iranian-backed Shiite terrorists were not the only concern for the United States, at the time. Radical Palestinian and Lebanese terrorist groups, both with and without the support of Syria, were of great concern. A decade's worth of explosive stockpiling was also a considerable threat to the United States and their forces ("Adequacy of U.S. Marine"). However, the threats did not simply lie in direct military or terrorist action, in Lebanon, following the October 23rd bombings.
Syria was a great threat to not only the political stability within Lebanon, but in the region, in general. Data gathered by the Investigations Subcommittee indicated a direct relationship between Lebanon's increasing anarchy and Syria ("Adequacy of U.S. Marine"). This political instability made Lebanon ripe for continued terrorist grooming.
For eight years, Beirut had been an armed camp featuring indiscriminate killing, seemingly random acts of terror, and massive stockpiling of weapons and ammunition. (the Committee was) told that it (was) difficult, if not impossible, to find a Lebanese household which (did) not possess firearms. Notwithstanding the opportunity presented the Government of Lebanon by the evacuation of the PLO and the dispersal of LNM militias in September 1982, there (were) still neighborhoods in and around Beirut's southern suburbs that the LAF dared not enter ("Adequacy of U.S. Marine").
Clearly, this was a short-term threat to all multinational forces, including U.S. Forces, as well as a long-term threat for future generations of terrorist attacks and development.
Of particular concern, at the time was also the Iranian connection and the terrorist threat.
Understanding that Iranian operatives, in Lebanon, were in the business of killing Americans, the United States realized that only by restoring domestic order and removing foreign forces, could they hope to make training Iranian terrorists more difficult by cutting off their personnel, basing, supplies, and training access.
The conditions these terrorists, and nefarious countries, can exploit are varied. The balance of power in Lebanon was quite tenuous at the time. As mentioned, the power-sharing agreement originally established was no longer viable for the country. The Christians no longer held the majority of the population, which meant that many citizens felt their control of the presidency was unjustified.
In addition, terrorism itself is deeply rooted in the Middle East area. A recognized expert on terrorism, Brian Jenkins, notes "that the ideological and doctrinal foundations for campaigns of deliberate terrorism, which exist today in Lebanon, emerged from the post-World War II struggles in Palestine and the early guerrilla campaign against colonial powers in Cyprus and Algeria" ("Adequacy of U.S. Marine"). This cradle of terrorism has a profound effect on the power structure of the entire region.
Several governments and regional entities in the geographical area use international terrorism as a means for their power. For this reason, they had a significant stake in the outcome of the struggle within Lebanon. Nationally-sponsored terrorism, in the region, was growing significantly (Cooper). Between the years of 1972 and 1982, the State Department had identified 140 terrorist incidents that were conducted directly by national governments.
Ninety percent of this total had occurred during the three-year period of 1980 to 1982. The United States understood that the fact that terrorism was an integral part of the political and military landscape in the Middle East, and as such, would continue to be a long-term threat to American personnel and facilities in the region ("Adequacy of U.S. Marine").
In addition to threats from specifically terrorist organizations, the threats coming at U.S. Forces, in Lebanon, at the time included Lebanese factions who had at their disposal: regular and guerrilla armies, private militias, and access to terrorist groups. Violence was an integral part of the political landscape at the time, with the maneuvering of opponents into politically untenable positions, as opposed to defeating them in a more traditional sense. Terrorism was crucial to the process as it could not be deterred with the threat of escalation or responsive firepower. Therefore, it was viewed as "an expedient form of violence capable of pressuring changes in the political situation with a minimum of risk and cost" ("Adequacy of U.S. Marine").
However, in the Middle East, beginning in the late 1970s, early 1980s, terrorism had evolved beyond the random acts of violence previously associated with the act.
Terrorism in the Middle East had become a new dimension of warfare. It had become systematic and carefully orchestrated. This new breed of terrorist was not seeking to make random political statements, or did not wish to commit the occasional act of intimidation, due to some ill-defined long-term vision of the future. Instead, this new generation of terrorist used terrorism as part of an integrated strategy, with well-defined military and political objectives. For many nations in the Middle East, terrorism gave them an alternate means of conducting state business, where the terrorists themselves were agents, but whose association could be easily denied by the government ("Adequacy of the U.S. Marine"). In addition to this improved strategic focus, the individuals themselves were different from what the world was used to seeing.
Terrorists in Lebanon specifically and the Middle East in general had become formidable opponents. These individuals are intensely professional and dedicated. They are also well-trained, well-equipped, and well-supported. "With State sponsorship, these terrorists are less concerned about building a popular base and are less inhibited in committing acts which cause massive destruction or inflict heavy casualties" ("Adequacy of the U.S. Marine"). These capabilities are further enhanced by the operational guidance and intelligence that they are given by their sponsoring State. For this reason, they were a serious immediate and long-term threat to American forces in Lebanon, at the time.
As a super power, with global interests, the United States is an extremely attractive terrorist target, now and at the time of the Marine bombings in Beirut. Through the use of terrorism, small countries are able to attack U.S. Interests, inexpensively and with few risks. If these acts were committed openly, they would constitute an act of war, and would justify a direct American military response ("Adequacy of the U.S. Marine"). However, as they are done, on the sly, via acts of terrorism, with deniability by the sponsoring State, America is not able to respond against those who typically are truly responsible.
As the House Subcommittee of U.S. Armed Services noted, "Combatting terrorism requires an active policy. A reactive policy only forfeits the initiative to the terrorists" ("Adequacy of U.S. Marine"). However, they also recognized that there was not going to be a single solution to adequately respond. To be effective, they sought a multilateral response that targeted all levels of government, politically and militarily. Political initiatives were directed at collecting and sharing intelligence on terrorist groups, and promptly challenging any behavior of States they found to be employing terrorism.