Monday, 30 December 2013

Benghazi: Mixed Bag in Defiance of Conservative Punditry

Regarding the article "A Deadly Mix in Benghazi" by David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, on 28 December 2013 at

An important note when discussing the attack on the US embassy in Benghazi, Libya: Republicans voted to cut funding for embassy security. They were part of the problem that led to the deadly results of that attack. See the following from a CNN report:

Rep. Chaffetz Says He "Absolutely" Voted to Cut Funding for Embassy Security
10 October 2012

"Look, we have to make priorities and choices in this country. We have… 15,0000 contractors in Iraq. We have more than 6,000 contractors, a private army there, for President Obama, in Baghdad. And we’re talking about can we get two dozen or so people into Libya to help protect our forces. When you’re in touch economic times, you have to make difficult choices. You have to prioritize things."

The New York Times has blown the lid off of both the liberal and the conservative narratives surrounding the attack on the US embassy in Benghazi, Libya. A summary, assembled piece-meal, of the introduction to this mind-blowing NYT investigative work:

The investigation by The Times shows that the reality in Benghazi was different, and murkier, than either of those [two contradictory] story lines [framing the attack on the US embassy in Benghazi] suggests. Benghazi was not infiltrated by Al Qaeda, but nonetheless contained grave local threats to American interests. The attack does not appear to have been meticulously planned, but neither was it spontaneous or without warning signs.

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 fixation on Al Qaeda might have distracted experts from more imminent threats.

The violence, though, also had spontaneous elements. Anger at the video motivated the initial attack. Dozens of people joined in, some of them provoked by the video and others responding to fast-spreading false rumors that guards inside the American compound had shot Libyan protesters. Looters and arsonists, without any sign of a plan, were the ones who ravaged the compound after the initial attack

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.

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