I read Ann Coulter's editorial on Sept. 14 castigating the Clinton administration's reluctance or inability to take the fight to terrorism. While I agree with many of her points, there is enough blame to go around among both Democratic and Republican administrations. For example, in April 1983, during the Reagan administration, suicide bombers attacked the U.S. embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, and killed 63 people, including 17 Americans.
On Oct. 23, 1983, the Marine Barracks in Beirut were leveled by a suicide bomber, killing 241 American servicemen on duty with the Multinational Force. At the same time, 58 French paratroopers were killed in an identical attack on their barracks.
While President Reagan promised quick and sure justice, despite strong evidence as to who the perpetrators were, the Reagan administration chose not to respond militarily so as not to antagonize other Arab countries. Only the French responded with a retaliatory aerial bombardment of Hezbollah positions in the Beqaa Valley.
It has taken a long time and much blood for policymakers to wake up to the nature of the threat, but the inability or unwillingness to deal with terrorism is certainly not the sole province of any one party or administration.