A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, April 15, 2011

Déjà Vu All Over Again: Today Marks 25 Years After El Dorado Canyon

Today, with NATO bombing Libya yet again, marked the quarter century anniversary of the US bombing of Libya on April 15, 1986, in response to a terrorist bombing in then-West Berlin. (Berlin was divided then, for the youngsters among you.) Since France and Spain refused overflight permission to the US,  Operation El Dorado Canyon combined Naval Aviation assets with Air Force aircraft flying from the UK via the Strait of Gibraltar. One US F-111 was lost.

(Does anyone know who thought of the codename El Dorado Canyon? This was the Reagan era and Reagan was known for his cowboy roles, but I can't find any reference to the choice of names.)

This was  an earlier era when Qadhafi was widely demonized  (a famous 1981 Newsweek cover above right).  Qadhafi was the demon at the time, though Abu Nidal sometimes made the cut; Usama bin Ladin was as yet unknown. (An artifact of the era for those of you too young to recall it, but familiar with pop culture, will be the "Libyan hit squad" in the 1985 film Back to the Future.)

Twenty-five years later, to quote Yogi Berra, it seems like "déjà vu all over again."

Have a good weekend. As usual I will only post if events demand it.

1 comment:

David Mack said...

Thanks for the reminder. Wish I had been thinking of the anniversary when I was briefing some Members of Congress yesterday (April 15!) about Libya. I was warning against greater U.S. military involvement. Several other briefers were a lot more hawkish. How soon memories fade.