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 of 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.
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 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.
Obama assured the nation that the “folks” 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 successes that up close look a lot like failures.
Three days after unilaterally deciding to go to war in Libya, while insisting on calling it something other than a war, Obama justified his intervention to the American people based on protecting what would shortly become Libya’s most famously infamous city. “We saw regime forces on the outskirts of the city… we knew that if we waited one more day, Benghazi… could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”
But there was no massacre. Nor was there ever going to be one. The only people who were massacred in Benghazi were Americans.
Obama had not kicked off a war because he was genuinely worried about the “700,000 men, women and children who sought their freedom from fear,” but because the fall of Benghazi would have meant the end of the rebellion and the end of the Arab Spring.
The Libyan War was not fought so that the 700,000 men, women and children of Benghazi could go from living under the rule of a totalitarian government to living under the rule of totalitarian militias. That was just an unintended consequence. And it wasn’t the only such unintended consequence as Gaddafi’s Touraeg allies paired up with Al Qaeda to seize half of Mali and Libyan weapons were passed around to terrorist groups like Hamas.
Those unintended consequences came together on September 11 when those militias decided to commemorate the day with a round of attacks against American targets. Ground Zero for their campaign was Benghazi, the city where they were strongest because the heavily armed militias there had been growing fat on protection money. The same militia that attacked the Benghazi mission also provided security for the hospital where Ambassador Stevens was taken after the attack, providing gainful employment to Salafi terrorists from as far away as Iraq and Pakistan.
Obama had gained attention as a critic of the Iraq War, squawking about necessary wars to small crowds of wealthy elderly Marxists from Chicago, but no sooner had he gotten out of Iraq than he was jumping up and down on the diving board and splashing down into Libya to show how much smarter and better he was at fighting unnecessary wars than that ignorant Texan who shot first and nuanced later.
George W. had told the American people that there was a vital American interest in stopping Saddam, from getting his hands on WMDs. Barack H. told the American people that “it was not in our national interest” to let Gaddafi capture Benghazi. What national interest was at stake in keeping Benghazi run by homicidal Islamist militias tied to Al Qaeda will be a lot harder to find than Iraqi WMDs.
Benghazi though, as Obama put it while yukking it up with the media’s favorite liberal clown, was just one of those bumps in the road. The road began when Obama bombed Libya to keep Gaddafi from taking Benghazi. Along the way there were some bumps when American diplomats were forced to flee Benghazi, but the road goes ever on as it meanders through exotic locales such as Timbuktu, now under Al Qaeda control, and Aleppo, only under partial Al Qaeda control.
Obama pulled out of Iraq and Al Qaeda in Iraq showed up in Benghazi. Now it’s moved on to Syria. A year from now it may be in Jordan. The entire Middle East is a war zone now with terrorists and militias moving back and forth to feast on the instability and carve out their own private Benghazis where a man with a beard and a gun can provide protection in exchange for cash, and then take the weekend off to torch an American embassy or two.
This is Obama’s Brave New Middle East, born out of Benghazi, but coming everywhere. Four Americans dead in a single attack is not the scandal of it, but the symptom of it; those deaths are what happens when you tear down every allied government and replace them with mobs of gunmen whose constitution is the Koran and who despise the United States no matter how many bombs and press releases it drops in their defense.
“O brave new world,” Miranda exclaimed in The Template, “That has such people in’t!” Americans in Benghazi were confronted with the Brave New Middle East that Obama had made and the people who now live in it.
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Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.