In 1982-84, the U.S. had encountered great difficulty in using its military forces in Lebanon. Ultimately, in February 1984 they were withdrawn.
On November 28, 1984, in a speech before the National Press Club, U.S. Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger signaled US adversaries that the Pentagon would be reluctant to recommend the direct use of US force anywhere soon. The so-called "Weinberger Doctrine" contained six points, all of which would have to be met before using US armed force:(1) armed force would be used only to protect vital interests of the US or its allies;The Surrounding Context: In terms of US policy in the Middle East, the context of the "Weinberger Doctrine" is important.
(2) when the US commits itself to the use of force it must do so wholeheartedly, with the clear intention of winning;
(3) troops should be committed only in pursuit of clearly defined political and military objectives, and we should know in advance precisely how the forces committed can accomplish those clear objectives;
(4) the relationship between the forces committed --their size, composition, etc.-- and the objectives must continually be reassessed and adjusted if necessary;
(5) "before the US commits combat forces abroad, there must be some reasonable assurance we will have the support of the American people and their representatives in Congress;" and
(6) the commitment of US armed force should be the last resort.Nine months earlier, in February 1984, US Marines had "redeployed" offshore from the Lebanon base where they had suffered heavy casualties and had failed in their mission to support the expansion of the authority of the Government of Lebanon in that civil war torn state.Analytic interpretation: Taken together with the withdrawal from Lebanon and the rapprochement with Iraq, the "Weinberger Doctrine" reinforced the impression held widely in the Middle East that the US was reluctant directly to employ military force on behalf of its objectives in that region.
Two days before Weinberger's speech, on November 26, 1984, the "tilt" toward Iraq in its war against Iran had taken on a new, formal face: full US diplomatic relations with Iraq were restored after a 17 year interruption. This was done despite clear evidence in official US government reports that cited Iraq's continuing support for terrorist groups. Commercial relations between the countries soon grew: a $40 million General Electric power plant in Baghdad also was completed during 1984. During 1985, the US Export-Import Bank would finance $750 million worth of farm exports to Iraq.
Text of the "Weinberger Doctrine" Speech:
"EXCERPTS FROM ADDRESS OF WEINBERGER " New York Times (November 29, 1984): A5.
Following are excerpts from the prepared text of an address by Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger to the National Press Club today, as made available by the Defense Department:
"Under what circumstances, and by what means, does a great democracy such as ours reach the painful decision that the use of military force is necessary to protect our interests or to carry out our national policy?
Our policy has always been to work hard for peace but to be prepared if war comes. Because we face a spectrum of threats - from covert aggression, terrorism and subversion to overt intimidation, to use of brute force - choosing the appropriate level of our response is difficult. Once a decision to employ some degree of force has been made, and the purpose clarified, our Government must have the clear mandate to carry out that decision until the purpose has been achieved. The issue of which branch of government has authority to define that mandate and make decisions on using force is now being strongly contended. Beginning in the 1970's Congress demanded and assumed a far more active role in the making of foreign policy and in the decision-making process for the employment of military forces abroad than had been thought appropriate and practical before. As a result, the centrality of decison-making authority in the executive branch has been compromised by the legislative branch to an extent that actively interferes with that process. At the same time, there has not been a corresponding acceptance of responsibility by Congress for the outcome of decisions concerning the employment of military forces.
Not Defender of World
"Recent history has proven that we cannot assume unilaterally the role of the world's defender. So while we may and should offer substantial amounts of economic and military assistance to our allies in their time of need and help them maintain forces to deter attacks against them - usually we cannot substitute our troops or our will for theirs.
In those cases where our national interests require us to commit combat forces, we must never let there be doubt of our resolution. When it is necessary for our troops to be committed to combat, we must commit them in sufficient numbers and we must support them as effectively and resolutely as our strength permits. When we commit our troops to combat we must do so with the sole object of winning.
Once it is clear our troops are required, because our vital interests are at stake, then we must have the firm national resolve to commit every ounce of strength necessary to win the fight to achieve our objectives. In Grenada we did just that.
Just as clearly, there are other situations where United States combat forces should not be used. I believe the postwar period has taught us several lessons, and from them I have developed six major tests to be applied when we are weighing the use of U.S. combat forces abroad.
6 Major Tests
"First, the United States should not commit forces to combat overseas unless the particular engagement or occasion is deemed vital to our national interest or that of our allies.
Second, if we decide it is necessary to put combat troops into a given situation, we should do so wholeheartedly and with the clear intention of winning.
Third, if we do decide to commit forces to combat overseas, we should have clearly defined political and military objectives. And we should know precisely how our forces can accomplish those clearly defined objectives. And we should have and send the forces needed to do just that.
Fourth, the relationship between our objectives and the forces we have committed - their size, composition and disposition - must be continually reassessed and adjusted if necessary.
Fifth, before the U.S. commits combat forces abroad, there must be some reasonable assurance we will have the support of the American people and their elected representatives in Congress. We cannot fight a battle with the Congress at home while asking our troops to win a war overseas or, as in the case of Vietnam, in effect asking our troops not to win but just to be there.
Finally, the commitment of U.S. forces to combat should be a last resort.
Sounding a Caution
"These tests I have just mentioned have been phrased negatively for a purpose - they are intended to sound a note of caution. When we ask our military forces to risk their very lives in such situations, a note of caution is not only prudent, it is morally required.
In many situations we may apply these tests and conclude that a combatant role is not appropriate. Yet no one should interpret what I am saying here today as an abdication of America's responsibilities - either to its own citizens or to its allies.
While these tests are drawn from lessons we have learned from the past, they also can - and should - be applied to the future. The President will not allow our military forces to creep - or be drawn gradually - into a combat role in Central America or any other place in the world. And indeed our policy is designed to prevent the need for direct American involvement. This means we will need sustained Congressional support to back and give confidence to our friends in the region.
I believe the tests I have enunciated here today can, if applied carefully, avoid the danger of this gradualist incremental approach, which almost always means the use of insufficient force."
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