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While foreign policy did not figure large in the second presidential debate, the Middle East again emerged as the overwhelmingly main international issue.
In the beginning of the debate, President Barack Obama claimed that he put a high priority on energy independence, an assertion well refuted by Governor Mitt Romney. A president who wanted energy independence, from the unreliability of Middle East supplies, could easily expand oil drilling on federal land; the use of new technology to produce oil and gas; a major pipeline from Canada; and the continued production and use of coal for generating power. To do none of these things and put his effort into restricting traditional energy sources and push hard for untested, long-term, and failed “green energy” schemes subverts energy independence.
But the main emphasis in the debate was on the Benghazi assassinations. Obama said:
So as soon as we found out that the Benghazi consulate was being overrun, I was on the phone with my national security team, and I gave them three instructions. Number one, beef up our security and — and — and procedures not just in Libya but every embassy and consulate in the region. Number two, investigate exactly what happened, regardless of where the facts lead us, to make sure that folks are held accountable and it doesn’t happen again. And number three, we are going to find out who did this, and we are going to hunt them down, because one of the things that I’ve said throughout my presidency is when folks mess with Americans, we go after them.
In other words, Obama said let’s increase security—after the attack was made—and then investigate and find those responsible for the attack. This is all rather obvious and anyone would have done that. But the real questions are different ones: How about investigating why there was such a security breach and the reasons for the attack?
And how about what happened beforehand?
The official story of what led up to the attack is just plain weird. Supposedly, the U.S. ambassador arrived back in the country and immediately ran off to Benghazi virtually by himself allegedly to investigate building a new school and a hospital there yet without any real security. His protection was to be provided by relatively untrained Libyans who a few months earlier had been rebels in the civil war.
It is quite true that the State Department and ultimately Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was responsible for the ambassador being in Benghazi and for ensuring his protection. The president would not be consulted on such a “minor” event. But the story hinges on why the ambassador was in Benghazi that day.
If he was, as accounts by sources in the U.S. intelligence community suggested, negotiating with a terrorist, anti-American group to obtain the return of U.S. weapons provided during the civil war that would have been a much higher-priority matter. The fact that he was not accompanied by a delegation of foreign aid experts to evaluate these alleged projects shows that the reason for the ambassador’s presence in Benghazi is being covered up. This situation transcends State Department jurisdiction and brings in the CIA and higher-level national security officials. The plan would have been in the presidential briefing and it is quite conceivable he would have been called on to approve of it.
Obama said he did three things but in fact he did four: he and his administration immediately lied to the American people about the cause of the attack, what happened, and who appeared to have done it.
–They said the attack was due to the video rather than a revolutionary Islamist attempt to hit at the United States and subvert the regime in Libya.
–They said the attack was a spontaneous act in the context of a peaceful demonstration when it was a planned assault.
–They said that there was no idea who was responsible when it was almost certainly al-Qaida.
In the debate, Obama charged:
While we were still dealing with our diplomats being threatened, Governor Romney put out a press release trying to make political points. And that’s not how a commander in chief operates. You don’t turn national security into a political issue, certainly not right when it’s happening.
Yet all three of the above lies were precisely a matter of turning “national security into a political issue,” and that is what Obama has done throughout his term.
About the Author: Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. See the GLORIA/MERIA site at www.gloria-center.org.
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