Libya: A Political Moment that Shouldn't Be

SAN DIEGO, Oct. 23, 2012 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Ambassador Chris Stevens' father said early last week that it would be "horrendous" if the death of his son and three other Americans would become politicized.   However, the tragedy fits well in the foreign policy narrative the Republicans have developed, so they have ignored his plea. 


Mitt Romney's foreign policy is not much different than Obama's.  The primary difference is his assertion that he will just handle it all better.  Those four American deaths make handy symbols to contradict the Obama claim that al Qaeda has been decimated.  Furthermore they indicate that the Obama administration has not done enough to aid the development of democracies in Libya nor, by implication, Egypt.

It is against this backdrop that the issue of the four American deaths in Libya has become a powerful campaign tool for the Republicans, possibly viewed by some fundamentalists as a gift from God.    I flicked to FOX news several times this past Thursday and almost every time they were talking about Libya and what the Obama administration knew when and what they did about it and what they covered up.

Granted the Obama administration hasn't handled the news about the Benghazi killings well and their earlier stances about a spontaneous demonstration seem wishful thinking, some cherry picking between different reports.   But let's remember the situation in Benghazi is chaotic (it took three weeks for the FBI to feel it was safe enough to go investigate the consulate) while both campaigns have "war rooms" searching for every weakness in the "enemy" that they can turn to strategic advantage.   The Obama administration was not eager to reveal anything the Republicans could use.  Do you think it would have gone down any differently if the roles had been reversed?

Let's also remember that Republicans like Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz, who feigned outrage in congressional hearings at the lack of security, have voted more than once toreduce the state department's budget over the past two years,especially in the area of foreign security.  

What happened and why regarding those deaths in Libya is complex and will take time to sort out, but in the meantime Republicans will make it very simple for all of us:  the Obama administration has its head in the sand regarding al Qaeda and should have protected those Americans, an example of Obama policy failure writ large

Kathleen Parker, somewhat right of center and one of my favorite columnists, offers a much more balanced picture in a Washington Post editorial Oct 16, in which she gets to the heart of the real story in Libya:  "Stevens went to Benghazi knowing the risks and died in the service of his country, the people of Libya and the greater good. It is tragic, but it is war."  

For now that's the important point, not to rush to judgment on blame, but how brave our Foreign Service people can be in chaotic, dangerous situations.  They see interacting with the local populace as vital to their work.   As such, to be so well protected as is our embassy in Iraq makes the Foreign Service people feel "incarcerated" as characterized by Daniel Server, a former diplomat.  In regards to Ambassador Stevens he has said:  "For our diplomats to do things right, it requires taking risks.  And Chris Stevens did things right."

The bravery and commitment of Ambassador Chris Stevens,  computer expertSean Smith and security contractors Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods is what should be focused upon, but in this particularly ugly election don't expect to see the tragedy play out that way between now and election day.

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Richard Farrell American Titanic, 858-793-1396,

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SOURCE American Titanic



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