By Paolo von Schirach
September 21, 2012
WASHINGTON – I expressed my skepticism about the “it’s-all-the-video’s-fault” blanket official US Government explanation, (provided by US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, among others), for all the attacks against US Embassies and Consulates, including one that led to the killing of Chris Stevens, the US Ambassador to Libya, and three more diplomats. (See above link to related story). Now the administration is slowly admitting that there were plots and therefore intelligence failures in detecting them .
Violence was caused by the video
At the very beginning, the Obama administration stated that all these instances of violence against US Embassies were provoked only by an offensive, unfortunately made in the USA, anti-Islam video. Pious Muslims, upon finding out that the video was made in America, lashed out at anything American in their countries. Regrettable, but understandable reaction. And, by the way, nothing that the US Government could have done to prevent this.
This way the Obama administration wanted to deflect any attention from itself. The implicit message was: “We have nothing to do with any of this. We did nothing to provoke these attacks against our Embassies. Our policies regarding Muslim countries and the Arab World in particular are sensible amd measured. However, there is nothing we can do to contain (justifiable?) rage unleashed by Muslims who felt so deeply offended”.
Well, there are at leasttwo issues wrappped in with this narrative. The first one would warrant an in depth analysis of the Obama administration policies towards these countries, starting with the June 4, 2009 “Cairo Speech” in which president Obama promised a new respectful attitude and good behavior towards the Muslim World.
Some would argue that Obama’s new posture, ostensibly based on dialogue and respect, was instead interpreted as weakness; and that this very weakness encouraged more anti-American violence promoted by radical Islamic fundamentalists. Plenty of room here for debating how Obama’s policies were actually perceived in the Muslim World. Hard to come up with clear answers.
Security arrangements, prevention
The second issue is about security measures to protect US assets on the anniversary of September 11, in countries in which Islamic fundamentalist groups operate freely. And here there is far less room for debate. The official American position in the aftermath of Benghazi was that the attack leading to the destruction of the US Consulate and to the killing of four US diplomats, including the US Ambassador to Libya, could not have been prevented as it was part of an impromptu, spontaneous wave of popular protests that caught everone by surprise.
In Benghazi, it was a plot
But the Libyan government almost immediately contradicted this interpretation, stating publicly that the attack against the US Consulate had nothing to do with the video. It was in fact premeditated. Now it seems that the Obama administration is backpedaling. Now they are on the record saying that the incident was a terrorist attack, implicitly admitting that this was part of a plot.
Well, if this was indeed a premeditated terror attack, then it becomes painfully obvious that the American government, with all its resources and intelligence assets deployed in sensitive regions, did not see it coming and could not stop it.
Quite frankly, insufficient security, right on the anniversary of 9/11, for obvious American targets in an Arab country with all sorts of military hardware still floating around and known to harbor extremists, is totally inexcusable. The fact a key US facility was targeted and destroyed, with several US diplomats killed is cause for deep concern. The suspicion now exists that at least parts of the American intelligence and the security apparatus protecting key US assets abroad are run by amateurs.
That said, it gets worse. Indeed, the determination to immediately provide a politically convenient explanation for the issue, by stating that there was no plot and that all these attacks, including Benghazi, have to be viewed as part of a strong reaction to a video, is willfully deceitful.
The Obama administration tried to confuse American public opinion by deliberate obfuscation, (“the video did it”), this way showing that the desire to win the elections is much stronger than any desire to shed any light on what may turn out to be a major national security failures. Only after their “explanation” was openly contradicted by the Libyans they started changing course.
Politics first, serious investigation later
To put it crudely, this has been the approach: ”First let me win these elections, and then we may investigate what went wrong. As what we may have done wrong would make us look bad and would cost votes, let it be understood that politics come first, truth seeking second“.