Posted on | October 24, 2012 | 4 Comments
What’s wrong with President Obama’s explanation about the attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya? Well, yes, everything — newly released e-mails provide further proof of that — but what’s wrong with the Benghazi story is symptomatic of a larger problem, as historian Daniel Mandel explains:
In the final presidential debate on October 22, President Barack Obama spoke briefly about the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack on U.S. officials and personnel in Benghazi. He outlined why the U.S. had gone into Libya before the attack. He outlined the answers he is still seeking following the attack. But he did not say why this terrorist attack had occurred or why the U.S. had been ill-prepared to meet it in what is, after all, a volatile city alive with militias recently freed from dictatorial rule. Nor did he tell us why his Administration strenuously avoided calling it a terrorist attack for two weeks, preferring instead to speak of a spontaneous assault in the course of a demonstration of Muslims offended by an anti-Muhammad video.
Mitt Romney did not pursue the subject, so we got no closer to the heart of the matter, yet the implication of this apologetic gloss of the first two weeks is obvious: Ambassador Chris Stevens was not murdered by Islamists who hate America and its allies and mean to attack us again; he was the victim of the local reaction to one of the products of American freedom of speech. Once the attack was acknowledged as the handiwork of terrorists, however, followers of al Qaeda, virtually the only officially acknowledged extremists, were cited as the perpetrators. And here lies the problem: the Obama Administration will not acknowledge that an extreme and violent segment of the Muslim world ranging far beyond the confines of al Qaeda is at war with us. To do so would have required him to explain why the U.S. had been empowering Islamists, including in Libya, some of whom may have been responsible for leaking information that enabled the terrorists to locate and kill the Americans. . . .