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May 24, 2015 / 6 Sivan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Benghazi’

When American Ambassadors Were Still Untouchable

Friday, May 17th, 2013

I just finished one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson, which tells the story of Ambassador William Dodd, President Roosevelt’s first Ambassador to Hitler. The book chronicles the slow descent of Germany into Nazi tyranny. One of the most striking features of the narrative is the fear that slowly descends on the German populace as they become terrified of ever expressing an opinion about Hitler and his police state even in the company of close family and friends.

Yet Dodd and his family were utterly immune to such fear. Though they lived in a home that was owned by a Jewish banker; though they regularly hosted journalists who wrote critically of Hitler; though they drove by the home of Franz Von Papen – the deputy Chancellor –  to show their support even after he had been placed under house arrest by Hitler for his Marburg speech of June, 1934; though Dodd openly snubbed Hitler every year by refusing to attend the Nazi Nuremberg rally where Hitler was celebrated as a god, Dodd never had anything to fear. He did not have to worry that the S.A. would ransack his Berlin home in the middle of the night. He did not have to fear that his daughter Martha, who even had an affair with Gestapo head Rudolf Diels, would be summarily shot for her increasing disillusion with Hitler’s regime. He did not have to fear that the SS would arrest him on his frequent walks through the Tiergarten for a speech he gave on that made subtle reference to Hitler’s growing assault on freedom. And he did not have fear that roaming bands of Nazi thugs would attack him for his protests to the German Foreign Minister against unprovoked attacks that threatened the lives of Americans.

And why didn’t he fear? Because even a monster as evil as Hitler, arguably the most dangerous man that ever lived, wasn’t going to mess with the American Ambassador.

In fact, one of the stories told in the book is the day that Dodd took a walk with French Ambassador André François-Poncet in the Tiergarten when the latter told him he would not be surprised if he would be shot in the street by the S.S.

Dodd was astonished. It never occurred to him to ever worry so long as he was the American Ambassador and indeed Hitler and the Nazis never harassed Western Ambassadors.

It therefore matters that just 80 years later a bunch of terrorist thugs can think they can murder an American Ambassador in full site of the world without consequence. American diplomatic staff were once the safest people in the world, representatives of a superpower who would rain hell from the skies should you touch one of their diplomatic staff. But no more.

The growing revelations from the Congressional hearings on Benghazi that the Obama State Department watered down public statements on the attack in order to cleanse them of any mention of al Qaeda and terrorism is a travesty and shows a lack of moral will to give evil its proper name. ABC News and Fox News reported this past Friday that the departments talking points were revised a full 12 times to purge them of any mention of terrorism. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland asked the CIA to remove mention of their own security warnings about Benghazi.

According to ABC News the original paragraph read,

The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al Qaeda in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.

But Nuland was concerned that the line “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either?”

I have earlier written how  Ambassador Susan Rice was utterly inappropriate to be chosen as Secretary of State based on her efforts to disassociate the word genocide from the Rwandan mass slaughters of 1994 so as not to commit the Clinton Administration to intervention.

With Blood on their Hands

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Lady Macbeth may have been one of literature’s most famous villains, but at least she had the guilty conscience to eventually try and wash the blood off her hands. Even if by then it was much too late.

It is doubtful that Hillary Rodham Clinton will start hallucinating bloody spots on her palms during the book tour for her upcoming 14-million-dollar book or compulsively washing her hands during the 2016 campaign.

If she does make it into the White House, it is even more doubtful that she will wonder it at night in a nightgown crying out for the blood that can never be washed away.

Lady Macbeth may have cried out, “Here’s the smell of the blood still; all the perfumes of Araby will not sweeten this little hand.” But the black perfumes of today’s Araby are more than enough to sweeten a multitude of appeasements and cover the blood that flows out from them.

Real life villains are closer to Richard III than Lady Macbeth, offering to trade their stolen kingdom for a horse to the very end, rather than seeking some intangible repentance in a fit of remorse. They are more likely to ask what difference it makes; the solipsistic query of the sociopath to whom the feelings of others are abstract things.

The Benghazi hearings featured more hypocritical and trite eulogies than anything Richard III could have imagined. Congressman Elijah Cummings told witnesses that “death is a part of a life.” A fact that they were surely unaware of. His colleague, Eleanor Holmes Norton asked, “What’s the big deal here?”

“We had Benghazi I with Susan Rice, now we’re having Benghazi II with Hillary Clinton. Enough Benghazi,” Norton declared. It’s not quite “Out, damned spot!” or “What, will these hands ne’er be clean?” and more “What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account?”

The latter is a timeless villain’s truth, whether in a fictional 11th century Scottish castle or in the all too real 21st century Capitol Hill.

For Lady Macbeth, power was not a sufficient defense against conscience. A thousand years later, in Foggy Bottom, Capitol Hill and at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue; there is no conscience, only power. The arrogance of an Obama, a Clinton or a Norton comes from their confidence that none can call their power to account.

Norton and Clinton have more of a point than critics give them credit for. Benghazi isn’t a big deal. Not compared to the rivers of blood they shed in Afghanistan. In Benghazi, four Americans were abandoned. In Afghanistan, it was over 1500 soldiers killed and nearly 15,000 wounded many of them denied air support and the ability to fight back under rules of engagement that likely also played a part in the betrayal at Benghazi.

Iosif Vissarionovich (Joseph) Stalin, a Shakespearean villain, if there ever was one, who helpfully wrote his own soliloquies, once said that while a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic. The four deaths in Benghazi are also a tragedy. Though we must of course, as Congressman Cummings told us, put them into the context of death being a part of life. Afghanistan however is just a statistic.

The day after Benghazi, the parents of Navy SEALS from Seal Team Six, along with military experts and former military officials, appeared at the National Press Club to demand a congressional investigation. The media responded with a collective shrugs and resumed providing non-stop coverage of the Jodi Arias case. Some Lady Macbeths go to prison. Others are meant to go to the White House.

“Why was there no pre-assault fire?” Karen Vaughn, the mother of Navy SEAL Aaron Vaughn, asked. “We were told as families that pre-assault fire damages our efforts to win the hearts and minds of our enemy. So in other words, the hearts and minds of our enemy are more valuable to this government than my son’s blood.”

“Why didn’t they take them out with a drone,” Charles Strange, the father of Michael Strange asked. “The Admiral told me, to win the hearts and minds. I says, to win the hearts and minds? How about my heart? How about my mind?” But not all hearts and minds are created equal. And not all blood is valued the same.

Why the Benghazi Affair is Still so Important

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

There is something terribly and tragically and importantly symbolic about the Benghazi attack that may be lost in the tidal wave of details about what happened on September 11, 2012, in an incident where four American officials were murdered in a terrorist attack. This point stands at the heart of everything that has happened in American society and intellectual life during the last decade.

And that point is this: America was attacked once again on that September 11, attacked by al Qaeda in an attempt to destroy the United States—as ridiculous as that goal might seem. Yet the U.S. government blamed the attack on America itself.

Other reasons can be adduced for the official position that what happened that day was due to a video insulting Islam rather than to a terrorist attack, but this is the factor of overwhelming importance. It transformed the situation in the following ways:

–Muslims were the victims of American misbehavior, a point emerging from the administration’s wider worldview of U.S. aggression and Third World suffering, as in the lectures of all those left-wing anti-American academics and the sermons of Jeremiah Wright.

–“Hate speech” and racism (as “Islamophobia” is often reconfigured) was the cause of troubles, with the implication that while freedom of speech and such liberties should be defended they must be limited in some ways to prevent further trouble.

–America’s proper posture should be one of apology, as in the advertisements that Secretary of State Hilary Clinton made for the Pakistani and other media.

–The “misblaming,” to coin a word, on the video showed terrorist groups that not only can they attack Americans but they can do so without fear of punishment or even of blame! As the House of Representatives’ hearings show, the misattribution of responsibility also delayed the FBI’s investigation, perhaps conclusively so.

–The exercise of American power has been the cause of America’s problems and not an excess of appeasement. The chickens—in Wright’s phrase—are merely coming home to roost. Yet once the video—which nobody in the Middle East was aware of—appeared there were in fact further anti-American riots in different countries, now over the video which Clinton and others made known, and in which dozens of people died. This showed that appeasement and apology caused worse problems.

–The solution to these Middle East conflicts required a change in U.S. policies in order to avoid further offense. This meant distancing from Israel and even historic Arab allies, showing respect and encouragement even for “moderate” Islamist movements, and other measures.

In short, this is the stance of blaming America and exonerating its enemies that has seized hold of the national consciousness.

Of course, parallel responses met the Boston bombing as the mass media and academics scrambled to give alternative explanations to the terrorists’ motives.

The truth is, however, extremely simple: The United States faces a revolutionary Islamist movement that will neither go away nor moderate itself. To understand this movement and its ideology, how it is and is not rooted in Islam, its weaknesses and divisions, the forces willing to help combat it, and ways to devise strategies to battle it is the prime international need for the moment.

It is as necessary to do these things for revolutionary Islamism today as it was to do the same things regarding Nazism in the 1930s and 1940s; and for Communism in the 1940s and 1950s.

Yet the U.S. armed forces and other institutions are forbidden from holding this inquiry.

There are, of course, additional issues raised, though many of them also have far deeper significance:

–The failure of the Obama Administration to defend and rescue Americans in Benghazi is equivalent to its failures to defend American interests around the world.

–The fear of using American power in Libya that day parallels the overall retreat from the traditional bipartisan policies of credibility, deterrence, and all the other things in a great power’s lexicon.

–The standpoint that it is better to let Americans die than to risk offending certain groups. That might seem harsh but when it was decided not to send a rescue mission that was precisely what was happening.

–A lack of competence by a president who didn’t know his duty and by high-ranking subordinates who would not remind him of that duty.

Unanswered Questions About Susan Rice

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

President Obama reportedly has decided to appoint U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice as his next national security adviser. Since the national security adviser is a member of the president’s executive staff, Ambassador Rice would not need to be confirmed by the Senate, as would a nominee for a cabinet-level office such as secretary of state. (It will be recalled that worries over her prospects at being confirmed by the Senate derailed her widely expected nomination as secretary of state).

Given that the national security adviser has the ear of the president and in most administrations is an enormously significant member of the foreign policy team, salient parts of Ambassador Rice’s record warrant scrutiny.

There still are serious, unanswered questions concerning Ms. Rice’s role in the aftermath of last year’s terrorist attack on the American consulate in Benghazi that resulted in the deaths of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. Since that time it has been learned that the administration knew almost at the outset that the attack was a well-planned operation of Islamist terrorists. Yet officials initially claimed the attack was a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim video. Indeed, Ambassador Rice touted the notion of a spontaneous mob action for several days after the event despite the evidence to the contrary.

On what basis did Ms. Rice promote the false storyline? Did she knowingly mislead the public or was she duped? These are important questions about someone who would advise the leader of the free world on a daily basis.

In terms of Israel, we continue to be dismayed by her performance at the U.N. Security Council in February 2011, when she cast the U.S. veto of an Arab-initiated resolution condemning Israeli settlement expansion. President Obama had said early on that the U.S. would not go along with it and if necessary, block the measure by voting against it. (Because the U.S. is a permanent member of the Security Council, this meant the measure could not pass no matter how many affirmative votes were cast by others.)

A video of that Security Council session shows a visibly upset Ambassador Rice as she cast the negative vote. Her body language and facial expressions strongly suggest she was doing something she really didn’t want to. And most of her speech was characterized by a lambasting of Israel for its settlement activity.

One excerpt:

[W]e reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity. For more than four decades, Israeli settlement activity in territories occupied in 1967 has undermined Israel’s security and corroded hopes for peace and stability in the region. Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace….

While we agree with our fellow Council members – and indeed, with the wider world – about the folly and illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, we think it unwise for this Council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians. We therefore regrettably have opposed this draft resolution.

And then there were the instances when she snubbed Israel. She skipped Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to the U.N. in September 2012. She was not present during the UN debate over the Goldstone Report and left it to her deputy to read a statement from the Obama administration opposing it. She was also absent from the UN Security Council in 2011 when the U.S. opposed Palestinian efforts to declare statehood at the United Nations, again relying on a deputy to read an administration statement.

To be sure, Ambassador Rice has her defenders in the pro-Israel community who cite her many efforts defending Israel against the institutionalized demonization that is part of everyday life at the U.N. But that doesn’t quite alleviate our concern over her apparent embrace of the Palestinian narrative on the core issues of the Arab-Israel conflict – even when the president seems to be leaning the other way.

Five Months After the Benghazi Embassy Murders: The Killers Frolic Free

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Five months ago, radical Islamists in Libya murdered four American officials. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that the Obama Administration would not rest until those responsible were caught.

Yet it seems as if nothing has been done. Indeed, just as the White House did nothing on September 11, 2012, when the U.S. consulate was under attack, it has done nothing serious since and is doing nothing now.

At least, the militia that all witnesses identified as being responsible had to cease activities in Benghazi for a while though leaders still hung out at cafes there with no one bothering them.

Well, now they’re back to business as normal.

The Ansar al-Sharia (Helpers of the Sharia) now control Benghazi’s western entrance, a southern checkpoint, and security at a hospital. One passing car honks to greet the Ansar al-Sharia guards and waves the al-Qaeda flag out the window at them.

As Reuters puts it, this and other such radical Islamist groups “are also held up as heroes of the Libyan uprising by some locals who say they are doing a better job of the protecting them than the government in distant Tripoli.”

“These men are also people who fought on the front lines, care about their city and provide services. We can’t shun them,” said Benghazi University professor Iman Bugaighis, referring to several militias. “We had to ask them to come back and protect our hospital and streets.”

Yes, they fought on the front lines with courage—Islamists often speak of sacrificing their lives in jihad and martyrdom—but the victory was handed to them by NATO, a NATO led by the United States, and a United States whose officials the Ansar al-Sharia killed perhaps because they were trying to get some of the weapons back.

But wait a minute! The current Libyan government is a client of the United States. Can’t the White House pressure the Libyan government to push forward the investigation? To detain those identified by witnesses as the attackers?

Or isn’t it trying? Perhaps it isn’t trying because it knows the Libyan government isn’t eager or isn’t able to confront the terrorists.

And the U.S. government doesn’t want to take direct action since that would presumably be too bullying and unilateral.

“The [Libyan] government lost a very good opportunity after our ‘Rescue Benghazi’ event [which pushed the militias out of town following the attack on the consulate] to control these militias, break them apart and absorb them into legitimate bodies,” said Younes Najim, an organizer of the campaign to push Ansar al-Sharia out. Note that Najim’s solution is to have the Ansar al-Sharia join the army and police.

“It will take time, but the longer the government takes to organize its security here, the stronger some groups will make themselves to become parallel forces to the government,” he said.

Right. But why didn’t the U.S. government follow up on the momentum built by the Rescue Benghazi movement? As for the Libyan government, it cannot and will not control them for a very good reason. The government is relatively weak—especially in Benghazi—and its “regular” military forces are made up of ex-militiamen who might be very sympathetic to Ansar al-Sharia. As a result, the radical Islamist militias may some day overthrow the Libyan government just as such smaller Salafist forces will help the Muslim Brotherhood suppress opposition and install a Sharia state in Egypt, Tunisia, and Syria.

In other words, the U.S. government has poured in weapons and money and diplomatic support to create and sustain a regime which may be made up of relatively decent people but cannot lift a finger to catch, punish, or outlaw al-Qaeda supporters and those who have murdered Americans in cold blood. Again, remember this is not a hostile country which provides a safe haven to anti-American terrorists, like Iran or Lebanon, but a U.S. client state established largely with U.S. military aid and direct assistance. They’re not hiding out in caves or in the depths of jungles but strolling the streets in a country that is supposedly a U.S. ally.

Today, Libya; tomorrow, Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria, not necessarily in terms of al-Qaeda itself (except in Syria) but in terms of anti-American Islamist groups that are quite willing to attack U.S. targets in the Middle East.

The Truth About Benghazi Makes a Difference (Video)

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived back in the Senate, after dodging a few falling safes, multiple banana peels and an ornery dog named Henry, to give a carefully prepared histrionic rant which can be summed up, “I do care a lot” and “None of this was my fault” and “What difference at this point does it make?”

The last isn’t a sarcastic restatement. It’s what she actually said.

It might make a difference to a certain Coptic Christian whose trailer was blamed by the leader of the free world for a series of Al Qaeda attacks against American diplomatic facilities and who was sent to prison on the orders of members of the administration.

That fellow of many names, now serving a year in prison, is the only one to actually get locked up. The ringleader of the attack walks the streets of Benghazi freely. A drone could make short work of him, but no drones are coming his way. Instead a car bomb, planted by Libyan enemies nearly took him out. Some of the other Benghazi attackers were killed by the Algerian military during the siege; doing the work that Obama won’t do. If the Benghazi terrorists finally die, it will most likely be at the hands of the French, the Syrian army or Libyan rival militias.

Benghazi, Obama said, during his appearance with Jon Stewart, the man of many grimaces, was a bump in the road. And that’s all it was. The Obama campaign bus drove over four bodies and reached its destination in an armored parking garage somewhere in D.C. An irritated Hillary Clinton, who is prepping for her own bus tour in 2016, has every reason to demand to know what difference it makes now to discuss who lied about what and who failed to secure the Benghazi mission.

The election is over, and her testimony was delayed until after the fat lady held up her talking points at the debate and sang. Al Qaeda is dead, except for the parts of it rampaging across Syria, Iraq, Mali, Libya, Algeria and Pakistan, and a decade of war is coming to an end or just beginning. It makes no difference now which one of those it really is, just as it makes no difference, whether, as Clinton said, it happened “because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night decided to go kill some Americans?”

Dead is dead. The Benghazi four are dead. Stability in the Middle East is dead. Hope is dead. Victory is dead. It’s time to discuss the serious stuff. Like finding the right title for Hillary’s next biography, ghost-written and set for release around 2015, right after the Dems suffer a Congressional setback from angry NRA voters and just before the next election to position her as the new voice of hope.

“Bumps in the road” is one option. It really communicates that Hillary has been through a lot and driven over a lot of hard roads full of potholes and people who were only there because the Republicans refused to fully fund her infrastructure and outreach programs. But “What Difference Does It Make?” best captures the zeitgeist of the time. That sense that nothing matters once you’ve won.

What Difference Does It Make?: Hillary Clinton in Peace and War” will show up on shelves with a cover of her in some distant country looking out at the exotic landscape or surrounded by properly foreign children. It will be packaged along with a public speaking tour of colleges as Hillary promises to teach the leaders of tomorrow how they too can make a difference her way. The tour will use up Hillary’s store of funny and inspiring stories from her meetings with foreign leaders and human rights activists, most of which will be made up, but what difference does it make?

Everyone will pretend to be inspired by her. Suddenly it will be of paramount importance (circa 2015) that young women have a president of their own to look up to. It’ll all be fake, like her career, but what difference does that make. The real campaign slogan, at this point, might as well be, “Hillary, why not?” and “You know it’s going to happen anyway.”

The First Plane Out of Benghazi

Monday, December 31st, 2012

It took some 22 hours for American help to arrive in Benghazi after all the t’s had been crossed and the i’s had been dotted and the body of America’s ambassador to Libya had been dragged through the streets by “rescuers” stopping along the way to pose for cell phone pictures with his corpse.

By way of comparison it takes about 16 hours for a boatload of Libyan illegal immigrants to row to the Italian island of Lampedusa. Support for the Americans under fire in Libya would have arrived sooner if a few former members of the Harvard Rowing Team had gotten in one the many rowboats beached on the shores of Lampedusa and pushed the oars all the way to Benghazi.

It says something about the current state of asymmetrical warfare that not only can Al Qaeda throw together a coordinated string of attacks on American embassies around the region without anyone  being the wiser for it, but boatloads of migrants from Libya can reach Europe faster on muscle power than American forces can reach a mission under attack while equipped with jet power.

For that matter, less time passed between the ubiquitous campaign fundraising emails that every American with internet access was barraged by no less than three times a day, than between the Benghazi’s mission first call for help and the arrival of American support. But that night, Obama’s priority was to get to a Vegas fundraiser, not to get American support to two former SEALS fighting and dying in a hellish mess created by his policies.

Obama Inc. blamed the second set of September 11 attacks on a movie, which was giving Al Qaeda credit for not only orchestrating worldwide attacks on American embassies and consulates, but doing it in a matter of days based on nothing more than a YouTube trailer. That would make Al Qaeda one of the more impressive organizations around, but the administration of the perpetual campaign found it easier to give Al Qaeda credit that the terrorist group didn’t deserve rather than accept the blame that it did deserve.

When madmen in America shoot up schools or movie theaters, Obama blames the weapons they used and calls for gun control. When madmen in the Middle East shoot up American consulates and embassies, he blames movies and calls for film control.

The filmmaker was locked up because he was one of those non-union types and none of Obama’s Hollywood friends would complain about a scab that wasn’t in the Producers Guild of America, whose director was not in the DGA and whose writers were not in the WGA being thrown in the slammer for making an offensive movie.

In another time and place, a place called America, an attack on an American diplomatic mission would have been considered an act of war, but the United States had just gotten over fighting a war in Libya, despite denying that any such thing was going no matter how many bombs were being dropped, and that war had led to Benghazi being run by Al Qaeda militias.

Obama assured the nation that the “folks” from the militant militias of Mayberry, Libya  responsible would be brought to justice. After three weeks of trying to get through Libyan immigration and dealing with concerns about conducting a criminal investigation in a war zone, the FBI finally made it to Benghazi, strolled around the compound for a few hours, took some pictures and then went home without interviewing any persons of interest.

An independent commission chaired by an Iranian lobbyist whose members were handpicked by Hillary Clinton conducted a review of what went wrong and found that the State Department probably should not have relied on an Islamist militia affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood for security, especially considering that its members had been going on strike for pay raises.

Four State Department officials resigned voluntarily, which in government lingo means that three of them took administrative leave and the fourth resigned one of his portfolios while keeping the rest. And the media declared that Benghazigate was over at last. Time for everyone to move on and close the book on another one of those Obama success that up close look a lot like failures.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/daniel-greenfield/the-first-plane-out-of-benghazi/2012/12/31/

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