No FOIA Request Needed: The John Boykin Collection – Philip Habib and Ariel Sharon
The John Boykin Collection is next in our series of descriptions of unpublished collections available at the National Security Archive. In 2005, the author John Boykin donated five bankers-sized boxes of declassified documents that he obtained through the Freedom of Information Act to research the award-winning book Cursed is the Peacemaker, The American Diplomat Versus the Israeli General, Beirut 1982. Published in 2002, Boykin’s book focuses on the efforts of U.S. Special Envoy Philip Habib (1920 – 1992) to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the Israeli siege of Beirut, Lebanon, that began in June 1982. The Israeli General referred to in the book title was Ariel Sharon.
In 2002, John Boykin was presented the Douglas Dillon Award for Distinguished Writing on American Diplomacy for his book about Habib’s practice of diplomacy.
The first four boxes of the collection contain documents on Habib’s Special Envoy work in the Middle East during 1981 – 1983. Box five contains materials on Habib’s mission to the Philippines during the 1986 election, his work as a special envoy to Central America in 1986 – 1987, and documents on earlier work in Vietnam during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The document we selected is dated 7 August 1982 and was sent by US. Ambassador to Israel Samuel W. Lewis to Secretary of State George Shultz in Washington, D.C. In it, Lewis describes the negotiations to end the siege as “this intricate enterprise.” Two weeks later on August 21st, the evacuation of PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) and Syrians from Beirut began. It was completed on September 1, 1982.