We have known from the first hours after the Benghazi assault that the Obama administration misled Americans. It was obvious in the initial press accounts, and information released during the Congressional hearing last week only further highlighted the administration’s brazen falsehoods.
Don’t buy this mea culpa for a second.
Hillary Clinton (AFP/Getty Images)
Clinton’s admission, while technically true (she is in fact responsible for the security of U.S. Diplomats) smacks of the same craven political manipulations and obfuscations that plagued Obama’s handling of the Benghazi tragedy from day one.
That Secretary Clinton would emerge with this now tells us a lot about just how deeply Benghazi cuts at the Obama administration’s foreign policy, and the lengths to which they will go to delay, defer, and deflect this issue.
Why would Clinton wait until now? Then again, why was Ambassador Rice on television weeks ago, spouting nonsense to the American people? Why did Obama blame a YouTube video for a complex terrorist assault?
These are questions for which "politics" offer the only logical explanations.
Of course, Clinton knows she won’t be held to account in any real way for her latest admission, but her partisan purpose is clear. Benghazi was certain to be the tip-of-the-spear for Romney’s foreign policy criticism against Obama today, and this is an obvious effort to blunt that attack.
While Romney has correctly hammered at the gross negligence of the Obama administration in protecting our consulate in Benghazi, there is a much broader point Romney can hit—one that goes to the heart of Obama’s national security record.
Romney can explain to the American people that the Benghazi debacle displays Obama’s naive, politically driven approach to foreign policy that underestimated the resolve of our jihadist enemies and put political optics above security.
Killing Bin Laden and "liberating" Libya were supposed to be Obama’s one-two punch, his commander in chief high points. To achieve the second goal, it appears the Obama administration wanted to portray normalcy in the post-Qaddafi state, and limit the presence of U.S. security personnel there. Why else would our diplomats' calls for additional security on the ground in Libya go unheeded?
As a result, a U.S. facility in a war zone was not just attacked—it was overrun-- and American diplomatic officers were killed. This is a stark repudiation of Team Obama’s signature "leading from behind" strategy. They thought they could achieve democratization of an Arab autocracy on the cheap, and they were wrong.
Benghazi also forced the recognition of what Libya has become: A failed state in the making.
The photos of our burned-out consulate and murdered ambassador exposed the underlying anarchy in Libya for all to see. Our security posture there was a terrible miscalculation, one that disregarded the hard lessons of U.S. policy in the Middle East over the past 10 years.
Yes, humanitarian intervention in Libya toppled Qaddafi and almost certainly prevented a massive bloodletting in Benghazi in 2011. But today Islamist militias roam free in a region with deep terrorist roots. Huge quantities of arms and explosives were pilfered. Eliminating a dictator was just the beginning. And Libya has a rough future ahead.
Compare it to other U.S. interventions. The Taliban was routed. Saddam was hanged. But a stable, sovereign democracy in either Iraq or Afghanistan remains a precarious proposition, despite the heroic efforts of over 2 million U.S. military personnel over the course of a decade. Today, Libya bears eerie similarities to the disorder in Iraq circa 2003—but we don’t have 150,000 U.S. troops on the ground to pull it back from the abyss should things go terribly wrong.
Americans should consider all of this as President Obama tries to hold up his national security decision-making as a key reason for his reelection.
And if all else fails for President Obama as we head into the second presidential debate, he has one more excuse to pile on. Instead of "blame Bush," he offers an even less gallant variation: blame Hillary.
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