Saturday, March 16, 2013

On Libya: We Reap What We Sow

"What difference does it make!" Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shouted down the investigators at the Congressional hearings in a fact-finding inquiry as to the circumstances of the tragic death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Libya.

"What mattered was that four Americans died," Hillary went on, evading the question.

The controversy centered on whether the attack in  Benghazi was a result of a spontaneous uprising triggered by a hate video as initially reported, or whether it was a planned attack one the United States should have anticipated, which clearly turned out to be  the case.

Hillary was cheered on by her supporters for her chutzpah in standing up to her questioners.

But the point was that it did matter. And her defensive reply, even to Republicans making this into a partisan issue, was neither an adequate nor appropriate response. Certainly she did not address the circumstances of this tragedy, which cast a dark cloud over her tenure as Secretary of State.

She then acknowledged she took the "responsibility" for it, but not the blame.

I myself was wondering why our nation even  had an ambassador in Libya, given the lawlessness there. In addition, it was reported that Stevens himself had expressed concerns about his safety that went unheeded by the State Department. One also wonders why he was protected not by American security personnel but by a hired Libyan militia that in the end, as any observer might have predicted, failed to cooperate with tracking down the perpetrators. 

I cannot help but think back to Clinton's reaction as Secretary of State after she viewed a video of the barbaric and gruesome death of Col. Muammer el-Qadaffi. "We came, we saw, he died," she said blithely, as though our nation were some sort of conquering Caesar.

Our nation ignored those humanitarian calls for an investigation into the dictator's shocking death, although killing a captive without trial is illegal according to the laws of the Geneva Convention. We did not press Libya for justice, although the graphic video captured the images of the perpetrators. Instead, we joked about how dictators deserve to die.

Such actions or non-actions had consequences. Our nation cannot condone behavior that appeals to man's basest emotions, and then naively expect others to abide by the dictates of international law.

In a sense, we initiated this mess by our involvement in the NATO air attack that downed the dictator, euphorically claiming we liberated Libya, only to see our delusions of bringing democracy there give way to the rise of its militant factions. We then ignored the subsequent ominous pronouncements of Sharia law and the abrogations of personal freedoms there.

Those militants who stormed the Benghazi compound on the anniversary of 9/11 and killed the ambassador and three American citizens turned out to be no different than those who barbarically killed Qadaffi. A most sickening video of the burning compound and the obviously brutalized ambassador who reportedly died of smoke inhibition clearly made this point. As before, the perpetrators were known and identifiable, and the Libyans, as before, predictably did nothing.

It is about time the we acknowledge that there is a dark and grim side of the Arab spring, the rise of jihad and internal chaos. Clearly now, as before, Libya has no interest in holding its militants to account. And our efforts to bring to justice those involved in the attack on Benghazi are in vain.

Violence begets violence. We reap what we sow.

As we initially ignored barbaric actions that violated the sensibilities of any human being, we now find ourselves helpless to do anything when our own citizens are subjected to the same shocking form of Sharia justice.

I myself feel extremely sad about this most predictable United States foreign policy disaster.

(c) Olya Thompson


  1. I totally agree that violence begets violence. It seems our nation loves to stir things up but finds it hard to follow through and make sure when we get involved we actually fix things. We need to analyze the possible consequences of our actions before playing hero.

  2. Very thoughtful post. We do reap what we sow. Why aren't we sowing communication, exchange of concerns, compassion. Why don't we try to understand, to learn the history of relationships? Were we in the habit of doing so, I'm sure there would have been no 9-11.

  3. Agreed sentiment. Thank you for posting.

  4. It is very true that we reap what we sow, but deals made with the devil will always come back to bite you. Our government is finding that out. The problem is people in foreign countries think we all are the same because we live here. That could not be further from the truth but that won't matter. The terrorists only care about body counts and physical damage. We are all targets.