What were the United States' and the Soviet Union's roles in Lebanon during its civil war?

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brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Cold War was an indirect conflict.  That is, the Soviet Union and the United States did not fight each other directly, as both sides had nuclear weapons and that kind of conflict was bound to turn out badly for both sides.  So they competed through other countries, and the proxy wars there.

Assuming you mean the civil war of the 1980s, the US role in Lebanon, however, was both direct and indirect.  Indirectly, the US was a strong supporter of Israel (as it still is our most important ally in the region), and weapons from the United States had made their way in foreign aid to Israeli forces and also to the Israeli-backed Christian Druse militia fighting for contorl of Beirut and other regions of the country.  So we indirectly armed one side in the conflict.

Later, President Reagan ordered in Marines as peacekeepers, and ordered naval gunfire to support the militia we backed in their battles for control.  This was short lived on both counts, as a suicide bomber killed 263 Marines, after which we quickly withdrew.

The Soviet Union had extensively armed Syria, which occupied the Bekaa Valley in the eastern half of the country, and massacred 5000 Christians with Soviet made weapons and ammunition.  Most Islamic militants and factions also used Soviet weaponry extensively during this civil war. 

Lastly, both countries squared off against each other in the United Nations, vetoing each other's proposals so that the UN could play no meaningful role in ending the conflict.