chapter  2
The Multinational Force in Lebanon 1982–84: national collective action
Pages 31

American, French, Italian, and subsequently British participation in the Multinational Force (MNF) that entered Lebanon in August 1982 represented an attempt at peace enforcement and conflict resolution in an (from NATO’s standpoint) out-of-area operation.1 Each participant had different reasons for responding to the Lebanese crisis. The United States, as a global superpower, sought to counter the threat of increased Soviet influence in the Middle East, restore damaged international prestige, and protect economic interests. Italy was motivated by humanitarian concerns. France had historical ties to the region, strong relations with the Arabs, and wanted, as per usual, to counterbalance American influence. Great Britain joined later, at the request of the United States, and felt participation was essential to maintaining its waning great power status. The experience in Lebanon yielded a number of lessons. It re-affirmed that Cold War collective operations tended to be national in character.2 It confirmed that the United States was prepared to assume a large share of the burdens of a multinational operation when a perceived Soviet threat was present. Also, Lebanon showed how mission creep and local circumstances impact the burdens of intervention. Finally, it demonstrated that the distribution of costs and benefits of failed intervention are not necessarily apparent until after military defeat has forced the intervening to leave.