Forget Benghazi! "Libya is Now 'Scumbag Woodstock'"!


The Daily Beast's Eli Lake reports that Libya, the site of an American-enabled kinetic-action-lead-from-behind-super-duper NATO triumph that somehow led to U.S. Amb. Chris Stevens being croaked by really irate YouTube consumers, is now packed with more domestic terrorists than your neighborhood Tea Party HQ:

In the nearly 20 months since the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks, al Qaeda operatives and allied terrorists have flocked to Libya, making the fragile North African country a hub for those seeking to wage jihad from north Africa, current and former U.S. counterterrorism officials tell The Daily Beast.

Not only does al Qaeda host Ansar al-Sharia, one of the militias responsible for the Benghazi attacks that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. But U.S. intelligence now assesses that leaders from at least three regional al Qaeda affiliates—al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and members of the organization of Al-Mulathameen Brigade loyal to Algerian terrorist, Mokhtar BelMokhtar—have all established havens in the lawless regions of Libya outside the control of the central government.

One U.S. military contractor working on counter-terrorism in Africa summed up the situation in Libya today as simply, "Scumbag Woodstock." The country has attracted that star-studded roster of notorious terrorists and fanatics seeking to wage war on the West.

Actually, suggests a different U.S. offical channeling Israel Zangwill, post-Qaddafi Libya is more like "a jihadist melting pot." All that's left is for the foreign-policy equivalent of former New York Mayor David Dinkins to declare the place "a glorious mosaic."

With apologies to A.J. Benza: Foreign poilicy (read: half-baked, unconstitutional interventions that lead only to the next iteration of madness and mayhem), ain't it a bitch.

Following Qaddafi's decision at the end of 2003 to turn over his nuclear program to the United States, even many U.S. politicians who supported Qaddafi's ouster in 2011 credited him with cracking down on al Qaeda.

A 2009 State Department cable first disclosed by Wikileaks summarized a meeting with Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman and Qaddafi's national security adviser when Lieberman "called Libya an important ally in the war on terrorism, noting that common enemies sometimes make better friends."

Now Qaddafi is gone. But in Libya, those common enemies very much remain.

Read Lake's whole thing here.

I understand the Republican fixation on "Benghazi" from a political angle. It's a moment that encapsulates the utter failure of the Obama administration first to conceive of a meaningful foreign policy related to the War on Terror and then to acknowledge that it truly screwed up not just in operational terms (securing a consulate that was housing the American ambassador) but in strategic terms (what the hell exactly were we—are we—trying to accomplish in Libya these days other than building a "Scumbag Woodstock"?). Luckily that same sort of totally inane intervention didn't happen in Syria, mostly because of right-wing pushback.

However, here's where the Republicans, with very few exceptions, are totally out to lunch: Apart from the Justin Amashes and the Rand Pauls of the GOP, they really are using "Benghazi" (like "Chinatown" in the Polanski film, it's both a literal place and psychic space of unfixable horrors) as a cudgel to beat down Hillary Clinton's political future, not as the starting point of a meaningul and long-overdue (since the end of the goddamn Cold War in George H.W. Bush's only term!) conversation about U.S. foreign policy. Because the Republicans as a group aren't interested in setting basic principles that might limit future military actions now that they are convinced that not just the Senate but the White House is within their reach. Nor are they interested in revisiting all the mistakes made when the Bush administration was running the show.

Americans will suffer due to the lack of seriousness in reaching a foreign-policy consensus. We'll spill more U.S. blood and spend more borrowed dollars on actions that leave the world less stable, prosperous, and peaceful (see the past dozen years). But it's really the wretched of the Earth who will ultimately pay a much higher price for the intransigence of Democratic and Republican refusals to work out basic rules and guidelines that preclude erratic and almost-always ineffective military actions (again, see the past dozen years).

From May 2013, here's Reason TV's "3 Reasons Benghazi Still Matters":