A VERY good piece in the New York Times won’t squelch Republican and Fox News screeching, but it does finally broaden the view on what happened in Benghazi, Libya, which includes that part of the problem is our own foreign policy strategy. If that sounds familiar it’s because that’s what I’ve been writing since 9/11/12, when Ambassador Chris Stevens gave his life for the belief that the Libyan people were worth all American efforts to help them.
Stevens died along with other Americans who tried to save him. The bravery of the foreign service continually overlooked so that President Obama’s enemies can put blame where it doesn’t belong, which includes a preemptive attack on Secretary Hillary Clinton.
What remains clear is that Ambassador Susan Rice’s appearance across the Sunday talk shows fueled the political backlash, the talking points from the Administration only making the tragic news worse, with our media demanding quick answers when none were readily available. In the midst of a re-election campaign at the time, the New York Times once again proves the Benghazi attack was far too complex for quick sound bites given to Rice.
From the New York Times, in a report that is worth your time to read.
Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.
A fuller accounting of the attacks suggests lessons for the United States that go well beyond Libya. It shows the risks of expecting American aid in a time of desperation to buy durable loyalty, and the difficulty of discerning friends from allies of convenience in a culture shaped by decades of anti-Western sentiment. Both are challenges now hanging over the American involvement in Syria’s civil conflict.
The attack also suggests that, as the threats from local militants around the region have multiplied, an intensive focus on combating Al Qaeda may distract from safeguarding American interests.