The Semantics of Benghazi Don't Matter: Obama's Foreign Policy is a Failure

There's something bizarre coming out of the final (thank God) presidential debate: a righteous debate over whether President Obama called the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, a terrorist attack the day after it happened.

Certainly, he talked about avenging "acts of terror" from the Rose Garden on September 12, even as his administration colleagues continued to very publicly push the line that the attack - which claimed the life of four Americans, including Amb. Chris Stevens - was a spontaneous reaction to the YouTube video "The Innocence of Muslims."

Focusing on a single, less-than-important utterance by the president is a great way of missing the bigger picture, which has been painted in terrifying detail by journalists such as The Daily Beast's Eli Lake. Lake has documented how jihadists had attacked Western targets in Benghazi months before the 9/11 attack, that U.S. sources realized the 9/11 attack was a planned operation long before the public learned that fact, that the ambassador feared for his safety, that security had been reduced, and more. Via CNN and other sources, we continue to learn more about the constant screwups and miscommunications plaguing our presence in Libya. What kind of world are we living in when politicians (including Republicans!) seem more fixated on a throwaway line in a speech rather than a serious investigation of why American diplomats are being killed?

The large point of this all is that regardless of what Obama might have might have meant right after the attack (it's not clear that his "acts of terror" comment on September 12 was a specific reference to Benghazi), his adminstration royally screwed up in Libya. It's totally clear why the Obama administration would be slow to acknowledge the truth of the attack - it undercut what they saw as the success of their containment of al Qaeda - but it's just ridiculous for the larger media and voting public to play along with fixation on minor details.

We can all agree, I assume, that the murder of an ambassador in a country we supposedly helped liberate just months earlier is a disaster. How does that horrible outcome reflect on the way in which the U.S. first got involved in the bombing raids that helped depose Qaddafi? And all that happened since then? Is the self-evidently failed security around the American consulate a logical conclusion from poorly conceived and executed policy or a tragic aberration from a sensible plan? Those are the sorts of questions that the presidential debates - and ensuing media colloquies - would be better off asking. And not just about Libya but the bigger question of U.S. foreign policy. Which, if Monday's debate was any indication, really doesn't concern South America, Europe, or vast portions of Africa.

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  • Whiterun Guard||

    We can all agree, I assume, that the murder of an ambassador in a country we supposedly helped liberate just months earlier is a disaster.

    If by disaster, you mean a tragedy brought about ONLY by our explicit failure to be sensitive to a beautiful and peaceful culture.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    A disaster is Bhoupal or the Japanese tsunami and meltdown.

    Benghazi was no disaster.

  • Randian||

    Just not optimal? A speed bump, if you will?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    See? Although I do remember a few disasters of yours from a couple of years ago, like Abu Ghraib and Tora Bora...

  • Killazontherun||

    I took him to mean a disaster as something unavoidable. Something you may be a be to plan for but not prevent. This was a fuck up.

  • Tman||

    I'm going to keep asking this question here because apparently no one in the fourth estate seems interested in getting an answer for it from anyone in this administration-

    Why didn’t we send the military to rescue Benghazi personnel as soon as we found out they were under attacks?

  • BarryD||

    IIRC the Commander-in-Chief had to get some shuteye before heading down to Vegas.

  • NeonCat||

    I am reminded of a scene in The Longest Day, about another commander in chief getting some shut-eye.

    As to sending military personnel to the consulate, I am reminded of the saying "when seconds count, the police are mere minutes away."

  • Gray Ghost||

    Where would you like them to have come in from, Tman? Did we have a carrier or MEU off the coast then? Crete's the closest NATO area to Benghazi (that or some black site in W. Egypt) and that's still 300 miles away. IOW, about 2 hours flight time for a helicopter. Even if we had guys in Tripoli, that's over 300 miles away.

    Oh, but we could call in an airstrike. Great. On who? Level the neighborhoods around the safe house with whatever bombers we can rustle up? Who's going to do FAC?

    OTOH, how many hours was the ambassador huddled up with his security detail? If more than a few, then yeah, where the hell was the cavalry? But I don't think he was huddled up all that long before they grabbed him, though I've yet to see a good timeline of the assault.

  • ||

    Apparently the left don't like 'timelines' anymore equating them to birthers. Hence, the perjorative 'timeliners.' Won't be long before Tony, Palin's Buttplug et al will be using it.

    Of course, timelines are awesome and used all the time in academia.

    Bah.

  • ||

    I speak of complete ignorance but if that's the case, then wouldn't the embassy have known of the logistic problem? If they did, then why call it in? Were they that desperate?

    The other thing is, evidence seems to be mounting that they knew well in advance something was up. So what happened?

    It's a shame really.

    Despite all this, I do feel Obama failed to be a leader on this choosing instead to be the weasel to score cheap points. Yet, it's the people looking for answers charged with "politicizing it."

  • mad libertarian guy||

    We can all agree, I assume, that the murder of an ambassador in a country we supposedly helped liberate just months earlier is a disaster.

    Only if you're a racist.

  • FD||

    "...but it's just ridiculous for the larger media and voting public to play along with fixation on minor details."

    Why the hell is this a surprise? Isn't that what the entire circus is all about? Has been for a century or more.
    When you're in the game, as most everyone here knows, doesn't matter the team.

    Government interventionism is okay when you're on the playing field.
    Overseas or in my neighborhood.
    In the war room or in the bedroom.
    At my company or at my social club.
    Acquiescence of slaves -- acceptance of the chains while we argue the color of the links.

  • BarryD||

    "Please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let's not bicker and argue over who killed who." - Obama in Vegas the next day.

  • Jerry on the road||

    "And we want to shrink those groups and those networks, and we can do that, but we're always also going to have to maintain vigilance when it comes to terrorist activities. The truth, though, is that al-Qaida is much weaker than it was when I came into office, and they don't have the same capacities to attack the U.S. homeland and our allies as they did four years ago."

    Some nerve.

  • WTF||

    We can all agree, I assume, that the murder of an ambassador in a country we supposedly helped liberate just months earlier is a disaster.

    Well, sure, but let's also not forget that it is Bush's fault.

  • FD||

    Exactly! Speaking of which, you seen the price of gas lately? That Texan son of a b...

  • John||

    It is a direct result of NATO doing a half assed intervention. You can't just radomly bomb a bunch of people and leave the country to its own devices. Of course the Islamists were going to take over. We would have been better off intervening for Gadafi than doing what we did.

  • Killazontherun||

    This. I'll take even a socialist fruit cake over an Islamist militant any day. Arab socialist only care about regional one upmanship. The other are nihilist who enjoy watching the world burn.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    What kind of world are we living in when politicians (including Republicans!) seem more fixated on a throwaway line in a speech rather than a serious investigation of why American diplomats are being killed?

    It's the world we made.

    And now we're getting it, good and hard.

  • FD||

    +1

  • Pro Libertate||

    I've been rather surprised how much even the opposition has been focusing on what Obama said and when he said it. Truth is, his foreign policy has been bad all along, and the handling of the Middle East has been particularly bad, anyway you cut it.

  • R C Dean||

    Exactly. Not sure why the Repubs don't just say:

    "Sure, whatevs, Obama's speechwriter got a throwaway CYA reference to terror into his speech. Is that supposed to mean that his entire foreign policy isn't a disaster, or that his administration hasn't been engaged in a concerted effort to distract and deceive?"

  • Pro Libertate||

    As usual, this is where we could use the former Fourth Estate. I don't expect them to be neutral, but if the press has an important political role to play, it's in always questioning, challenging, and openly being skeptical of government. By engaging in open partisanship and in applauding government growth and intervention, the press is worse than useless when it comes to political affairs.

  • John||

    The last four years have been terrifying with regards to the press. They have removed all doubt that if a populist dictator comes out of Harvard and is one of them, they will roll over and do whatever he asks. Not that I think Obama is a populist dictator or a wannabe. But it is pretty clear if he were the media would have probably loved him even more.

    Let's just hope that if there ever is such a thing in politics, the guy is from Alabama and holding a bible because then the media will join the resistence. If he is cool and biracial and from Harvard, we are fucked.

  • ||

    Obama might think he's cool, but he wouldn't have lasted a week in my middle school. I guess he's cool relative to dweebs like Chris Matthews, Ezra Klein, etc.

  • Randian||

    The reason the focus is there is because he lied. That is where the focus should be. Republicans can't "out-left" Democrats on foreign policy anyway, and the People aren't in the mood for more neocon warmongering.

  • Pro Libertate||

    No, that part isn't irrelevant; it's just not the whole story.

    Fucker lies so much that it's news when he accidentally tells the truth.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    I guess no one gives a damn about this except Nick. The problem is that the Republicans won't make the argument that they ought to make: that the President's intervention in Libya contributed to disorder rather than democracy (as well as being flagrantly unconstitutional). Virtually all of "official" Washington seems hypnotized by the notion that it our job to straighten out the Middle East, as though it were a simple matter to make hundreds of millions of seriously non-American folks, spread out over tens of thousands of square miles, dance to our tune. No matter how many lives we lose,we keep coming back for more.

  • Randian||

    Somebody get me my signet ring and red wax. I wish to seal this day onto my calendar.

  • John||

    The day the Vennaman wrote something that wasn't completely stupid?

    yeah mark it down. But I suspsect someone hacked his account.

  • Randian||

    Stupid for Alan isn't the standard. Everything he has written until this day has been singularly, spectacularly wrong, and today he somehow reversed the trend.

    It's like watching a dog walk upright.

  • WTF||

    Based on the content, I am not convinced this was actually Vanneman.

  • sarcasmic||

    Anal spelled his name wrong?

  • WTF||

    That too.

  • sarcasmic||

    that the President's intervention in Libya contributed to disorder rather than democracy

    Kinda like the interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq have left those countries in disorder compared to before?

    Or how our future interventions in Syria and Iran will leave those countries in disorder?

    The Republicans can't and won't make that argument because they would have done the same thing.

  • John||

    Kinda like the interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq have left those countries in disorder compared to before?

    No. Iraq before the invasion was parceled out into various Kurdish and no fly zones. The country was subjected to killing UN sanctions and the northern and southern halfs of the country had been the subject of a ten year bombing campaign. There was nothing "odered" about pre-invasion Iraq. It was total chaos and falling apart. Indeed, thinking that it was in any way ordered or had any civil society left to build upon was one of the key mistakes Bush made.

    Iraq for all of its problems is a hell of a lot better place now than it was in 2002.

  • sarcasmic||

    Uh, don't UN sanctions and bombings count as intervention?

    You're going to have to go a little farther back than that.

    I'm by no means saying Saddam was a saint, but he did keep things a lot more orderly than they are now.

  • John||

    You have to go all the way back to before he invaded Kuwait. And things were ordered, but I still would rather live in Iraq now than under Saddam pretty much at any time. Hell I would rather live in Iraq than Egypt right now.

  • sarcasmic||

    I wouldn't want to live in either place. Period.

  • John||

    True. Sadly, I am told Bahgdad was really great in the 1960s before Saddam sank his fangs into it. And I have known several people who living in Cairo and loved it. Those places don't have to be the shitholes they are. And that is very sad.

  • Cavpitalist||

    "You have to go all the way back to before he invaded Kuwait."

    So, when we aided Iraq against Iran, that wasn't intervention?

  • Paul.||

    No matter how many lives we lose,we keep coming back for more.

    Four more years!

  • ||

    This issue isn't going to go away, and is only going to get worse for the Administriation unless they come clean.

    You don't let a fucking Ambassador get killed without a thorough investigation of abolsultely everything involved.

    I was watching Argo the other night, and it was an interesting reminder of the role of ambassadors in politics, and displomatic norms in western history and the history of the middle east.
    When Iran took hostages at the US Embassey that was viewed as a profound violation of the sanctity of embassies in the anchient customs of diplomacy. You don't kill ambassadors. You don't take them hostage. You don't let mobs overrun the embassies of other countries. Unless you're planning to start a war. Killing the Persian ambassador was a declaration of war in ancient Sparta.

  • Lord Humungus||

    This is SPARTA!

    Seriously, in the movie 300 I always thought it was bad form for King Leonidas to push the messenger into the bottomless well.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Heh. That bugged me too.

    I would have enjoyed that movie more if I'd never seen the trailer. It just couldn't live up to it.

  • Gray Ghost||

    Hazel, we didn't do jack shit when Black September snuffed Ambassador to the Sudan Cleo Noel in 1973, or when Islamic Jihad tortured to death William Buckley in Lebanon (or Iran, if Jack Anderson is to be believed), and I don't think we're going to do jack shit now.

    What will happen is the new bosses in Libya will round up 10-15 militants who have fallen out of favor, those militants will be tried and then killed, or just killed outright, and the matter will be closed. Questions about just how much the group running Benghazi was in on the assault, or helped out AQ in Libya with intelligence, or other questions about just what the Ambassador was doing there in the first place, will be conveniently forgotten.

    And, in a year or two, the new PTB in Libya will sign some new oil and gas exploration/production agreements, new public works agreements with Western contractors---if these haven't been inked already---payable in Libyan petroleum, and all of the unpleasantness of Stevens's killing will be swept aside.

  • John||

    And also note that whoever murdered our Ambassador and his staff is still out walking around bragging about it. Yeah, that sets a good precident.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Like Osama bin Laden did until Obama decided to take him out.

  • John||

    Yeah. Obama decided to take him out. He could have done it anytime. He just waited until 2011 out or kindness.

    Every day you get a little more desparate and pathetic don't you?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    He was giving him due process!

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Obama's kill list is a long one, man. Osama had to wait his turn like everybody else.

  • Lord Humungus||

    Obama was there, man! Using his super awesome ninja skills.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Yeah. That was his body double who got pulled off the course to go watch the real Obama kill bin Laden. And man, was he pissed. On track for a bogey round! Bogey!

  • ||

    Palin's Buttplug.

    Yes. When Obama "decided."

    Fucking. Hilarious.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    This is as useless as the handwringing from wingnuts about what to call the Ft. Hood mass shooting.

    Who cares?

    Find the perps and kill them.

  • John||

    Sure, just kill them. Lets never talk about the massive fuckups that allowed them to do it.

    you used to annoy me. But I have to admit, I am really enjoying your meltdown over Obama crashing and burning.

  • Lord Humungus||

    Shreek has become a caricature of himself, magnified to the power of infinity (and beyond!!!).

  • Fatty Bolger||

    When somebody lies to me, and keeps lying, and starts telling different lies when confronted with the truth, I assume that they have something very important to hide.

  • sarcasmic||

    That or they want to have sex with you.

  • Randian||

    Trump Oktober Surprise!

  • John||

    He is on the low down. That low down dirty dog. Poor Michelle.

  • Randian||

    Down low, John. Down low aka "the DL"

  • H. Reardon||

    Whatever gave you that idea?

  • Pro Libertate||

    The big reveal is what I've been saying all along--Obama is Andy Kaufman. It's all been a huge gag.

  • B.P.||

    In recapping the presidential debate yesterday morning, my local news channel let me know that Romney steered clear of criticizing Obama on the Benghazi issue because he made a major factual error on it in the second debate.

  • WTF||

    So your local morning news consists of Obama campaign commercials?

  • B.P.||

    Yes. They also tell me the exact opposite of what the week's weather will be like.

  • Romulus Augustus||

    Michael Smerconish, on his syndicated radio show yesterday, says the reason Romney didn't jump all over Obama ("The ambassador died and
    Obama lied.") is that the CIA has admitted the daily security briefings to Obama did not - for at least ten days - attribute the attack to anything other than outrage at the video. Therefore, Obama, Rice and the rest of the D.C. crowd was misled by faulty intelligence. This is already the liberal talking point around my office but they, of course, don't want to give Bush the same break when it comes to faulty intelligence on WMDs in Iraq.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Because BushCheney cooked the evidence in order to persuade Congress into war.

    Obama has done no such thing.

  • ||

    Has that ever been proven about Cheney/Bush?

  • Killazontherun||

    Neither Bush nor Obama deserve a single break. They were big boys when they ran for the office, and the enormous perks they coveted that come with the office supposedly also come with duties and responsibilities.

  • Ron||

    I think the article misses the point. The reason why we are focused on what was said and when is because the president was trying to tell us it was the cause of a stupid video when we all know it wasn't. The president clearly tried to miss lead the people for his own political gain, Libya was his war and it needed to run smoothly but as usual as in all wars they never run as planned.

  • irqnaa||

    thanx man

    for more
    soratalkahaf
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    wooww

  • Cameroon||

    Few of the contributors below have kind words for either President Obama or Gov. Romney, but many are stoked by state-level intiatives seeking to legalize the production, sale, and use of marijuana; to recognize gay marriage; and to otherwise limit Focusing on a single, less-than-important utterance by the president is a great way of missing the bigger picture, which has been painted in terrifying detail by journalists such as The Daily Beast's Eli Lake. Lake has documented how jihadists had attacked Western targets in Benghazi months before the 9/11 attack, that U.S. sources realized the 9/11 attack was a planned operation long before the public learned that fact, that the ambassador feared for his safety, that security had been reduced, and more coach outlet Via CNN and other sources, we continue to learn more about the constant screwups and miscommunications plaguing our presence in Libya. What kind of world are we living in when politicians (including Republicans!) seem more fixated on a throwaway line in a speech rather than a serious investigation of why American diplomats are being killed?coach outlet Those are the sorts of questions that the presidential debates - and ensuing media colloquies - would be better off asking. And not just about Libya but the bigger question of U.S. foreign policy.

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  • nikea||

    Obama and Romney are. "We have to help these nations create civil societies," Romney said. Obama concurred, even while incongruously declaring that "we http://www.drdrebeatsbydreau.com/ can't continue to do nation building in these regions."

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  • شات عراقنا||

    thank you

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