Five Disastrous Modern-Day Presidential Decisions Not Involving Iraq or Vietnam
Sometimes the backfire hurts only the president who made the decision; sometimes it hurts a whole lot of other people. Here are five most disastrous decisions made by modern presidents -- not involving a decision to invade a country that had absolutely nothing to with 9/11 and which had no WMD. Or to get involved in an Asian ground war because the "domino theory" decreed that failing to do so would lead to Communist world domination.
5. Reagan sends troops into a Lebanese civil war
Lebanon in the early `80s was a horrific mess. Israel had invaded, various religions were fighting each other (they do their theological discussions armed to the teeth in the Middle East) and other groups worked hard to keep chaos alive. Ronald Reagan decided to send American troops into all this, ostensibly as "peacekeepers," but their mission was vaguely defined and they were immediately seen as the enemy by Lebanese Muslims.
The marines barracked in a lightly secured building at the airport; the sentries' rules of engagement called for them to have no clips or rounds in their weapons, which didn't help matters when they saw a suicide-bomb truck barreling at them. The blast killed 241 American servicemen. Reagan never retaliated, although he did distract attention by quickly ordering a successful, flag-waving invasion of the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada.
4. Nixon decides to tape himself
Rose Mary Woods demonstrates how she "accidentally" erased key evidence.
Knowing that LBJ, JFK and even FDR had taped their White House conversations, Richard Nixon decided to follow suit even though he didn't have a three-initial shorthand version of his name.
That decision, of course, led to incontrovertible proof that he ordered a cover-up of the Watergate break-in, but it also exposed to the world not only the ineptness of the cover-up (secretary Rose Mary Woods said she accidentally taped over 18 and a half minutes of a crucial conversation), it also brought to light and posterity Nixon's foul-mouthed racism and anti-Semitism.