The Benghazi attack, which claimed four American lives, was caused by the French/US/NATO war against Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya. That is the point no one is making.
Most of the peace movement opposed the military intervention altogether. A substantial bloc of the House fell short of imposing the requirements of the War Powers Act on the president, and the imperial hawks prevailed. A new breed of feminist militarists – symbolized by Hillary Clinton – was lauded for leading us to war, and another dictator fell.
But as in the swift falls of Kabul in November 2001, and Baghdad in 2003, the quick Western “win” in Libya was followed by the present quagmire, which spilled over into uprisings in Mali and across the Sahel. Now, lethal weapons from Libya arsenals are turning up in Syria and Gaza.
Qaddafi was an American ally in the Global War on Terrorism. He both warned and warred against Al Qaeda. Removing Qaddafi led to Libya’s disintegration into tribal rivalries and military chaos; Libya would not be re-colonized, as some fantasized. But its vast resources could be claimed for the West as spoils, and Qaddafi's fall was celebrated by fools as part of the Arab Spring.
By entering the conflict, and by arrogantly refusing to insist on a cease-fire, partition and political settlement, the West unleashed a new hell.
The Republicans are correct that the White House helped massage the inter-agency talking points after the Benghazi attack. They are right that the Obama campaign did not want to spoil its campaign narrative of “winning” the Global War on Terrorism. The Republicans have shifted the narrative away from an embarrassing anti-Muslim video and Koran burnings, which ignited Arab rage. In their inner sanctums, presumably, the Republicans did not want the Global War on Terrorism to end at all, at least not before the November election.
The Democrats were trapped in their election narrative, claiming victory over Al Qaeda. Obsessed with the political necessity of this “victory,” they believed there could be no exceptions, no Al Qaeda affiliates, splinter groups or black flags popping up in Libya. So they stumbled in an embarrassing game of blame shifting.
Sadly, there are real questions about Libya that deserve real answers. Why did the “high-value” US ambassador Christopher Stevens schedule a book-fair appearance in Benghazi on the tenth anniversary of 9/11? Why were mainly “fickle Libyan militias” lightly guarding the compound? It all seems “almost inexplicable” to ex-Foreign Service officer Ethan Chorin. (New York Times, May 14, 2013)
A related question is whether the US compound was essentially a CIA station at the time, but could not be described as such. We know from professional New York Times reporters, and conservative Times’ columnist David Brooks, that “Benghazi was primarily a CIA operation” for which the Clinton State Department took the blame. Were they still “protecting civilians” or engaged secretly in the unfolding civil war?
While the Libya blame game has raged, Americans lives were lost in the Boston Marathon, killed by terrorists. Republicans sniffed for evidence of Obama blame there, too, but it was the cops in Very Blue Boston that tracked the bad guys down. That was too close for Republican taste, apparently, to the liberal narrative that better law enforcement is key. The FOX sniffing goes on, however, in the event that Russia might be blamed and the Cold War reignited, or detente curbed.
At the moment, however, Benghazi is the Republican feast. Many Benghazis may be in our future. The Global War on Terrorism is a breeder reactor, one that no one dares decommission.