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U.S. Marine sits in a foxhole and points a machine gun towards Beirut, Lebanon, in the distance

Beirut 1958: America’s first Middle East intervention


In July 1958, U.S. Marines stormed the beaches of Beirut, Lebanon, ready for combat in the midst of an escalating sectarian crisis in the country. But they were greeted by sunbathers and vendors selling shawarma. The rest of their mission went mostly peacefully, but future American interventions did not go so well.In his new book published by the Brookings Institution Press, “Beirut 1958: How America’s Wars in the Middle East Began,” Senior Fellow Bruce Riedeltells the story of the first U.S. combat operation in the Middle East and the lessons it continues to hold for today’s policymakers. In this interview with Brookings Press Director Bill Finan, Riedel brings a personal perspective to the story as his father was a United Nations official stationed in the region when the Marines arrived.

Also, Senior Fellow Molly Reynolds explains what’s happening in Congress, with a focus on the new impeachment resolution in the House of Representatives.

Related content:

Beirut 1958: How America’s Wars in the Middle East Began” (Brookings Institution Press)

Photo Essay by Bruce Riedel: Beirut 1958: America’s origin story in the Middle East

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