Why Our Forces Were Told to ‘Stand Down’ in Benghazi

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.


To understand what went wrong in the Benghazi mission, it’s important to begin by looking at what was so unique about it.

When the Islamist mobs began their September 11 rampage, they found embassies with high walls, heavy security and police protection. Even in Tunis and Cairo, where the Arab Spring Islamist regimes have been accused of collaborating with their fellow Salafists, there were credible military and police forces capable of preventing the kind of full scale assault that took place in Benghazi.

The mission in Benghazi, however, was an American diplomatic facility with few defenses in a city where the police were virtually helpless against the Islamist militias and where the national government had announced that it would allow the Salafists to destroy Sufi tombs rather than intervene.

On September 1, I wrote that the real implication of these remarks was that the Libyan government had given the Islamists a free hand and would take no action no matter what they did. And bloodshed was sure to follow. Ten days later it did.

After the fall of Saddam, American diplomatic facilities in Iraq did not remain unguarded or protected only by local militias. It was always understood that American diplomatic facilities in a country whose government had recently fallen were sitting ducks and needed heavy protection. The State Department cables show that this was something that quite a few of the Americans on the ground also understood. The Benghazi consulate had been attacked, and its next attack would only be a matter of time.

When Al Qaeda decided to commemorate September 11 with a wave of attacks on American diplomatic facilities across the Muslim world, from Tunis all the way to Indonesia, in a recreation of its own 1998 embassy attacks, its planners paid special attention to the one facility that was a soft target and surrounded by jihadist fighters. A facility that was a perfect target because it was completely exposed.

Benghazi should have either had the same protection that a similar facility in Iraq would have or it should have been closed down. Instead the State Department chose to rely on its friendly relations with the jihadists, having forgotten the story of the scorpion and the frog, trusting in an Islamist militia linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and to its future Al Qaeda-affiliated Ansar Al Sharia attackers to protect it.

The State Department was not being cheap. Its budget had climbed steadily under Obama and it could have set up another Green Zone in Benghazi if it chose to. But that would have been a flashback to the Bush era that represented everything the appeasement lobby had hated about those eight years.

Libya was meant to be a new kind of war. Not a display of American arrogance and unilateralism, but a show of submissiveness to the goals and ambitions of the Muslim world. In post-American diplomacy, the Americans did not arrive with a show of force, surrounded by Marines and heavy fortifications, but bent humbly under the defensive shield of the Islamist Ummah. Rather than exporting the Dar Al Harb, the Americans would ask for the protection of the Dar Al Islam.

The reason that the Navy SEALS were denied the support of a Spectre C-130U gunship was the same reason that the consulate had been left nearly unguarded. And it was the same reason that so many soldiers had died in Afghanistan because they had been denied air and artillery support or even the permission to open fire.

What happened in Benghazi was only extraordinary because it caught the attention of the public, but American soldiers in Afghanistan had been suffering under the same conditions ever since it was decided that winning the hearts and minds of Afghan civilians was more important than the lives of American soldiers.

The four Americans killed in Benghazi lived and died by the same code as thousands of Americans in Afghanistan. And that code overrode loyalty to one’s own people in favor of appeasing Muslims. The two former SEALS broke that code, violating orders by going to protect the consulate and were abandoned in the field by an administration that prioritized Muslim opinions over American lives.

From the post-American diplomatic perspective, the lives of a few Americans, who knew what they were getting into, was a small sacrifice to make when weighed against the potential of turning the entire Muslim world around. A Spectre gunship blasting away at an Islamist militia in the streets of Benghazi would have ended the fiction of a successful war in Libya and infuriated most of the Islamist militias. Worst of all, it would have made Americans seem like imperialists, instead of helpful aides to the Islamist transition of the Arab Spring. It would have ruined everything and so it was shut down.

Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods were not the first Americans to be abandoned by their country for diplomatic reasons. They will not be the last. And while we investigate and expose the decisions that their government made, it is important for us to remember that such decisions come out of a mindset that says there are diplomatic goals that are more important than American lives. This mindset did not begin with the War on Terror and it will not end until it is exposed for what it is.

During Israel’s descent into peace madness, its left-wing government coined a phrase for those Israelis killed in terrorist attacks, calling them, “Sacrifices of Peace.”

Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods are our government’s sacrifices of peace. They died so that we might go on in our futile effort to win over the Muslim world. And they are not the only ones. There is no way of knowing how many of the 1,500 Americans who were killed in Obama’s surge died because they were prevented from firing first or denied air support. But the number is likely to be in the hundreds.

Similarly 3,000 died in the attacks of September 11 because our diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia were too important to close the revolving door that allowed the terrorists such easy access to our country. They too were sacrifices of peace, burned on the altar of appeasement by a diplomatic establishment that puts the opinions of our enemies first and American lives last.

What went wrong in Benghazi is the same thing that went wrong in Afghanistan. It is the same thing that went wrong on the original September 11. It is the same thing that has gone wrong throughout the War on Terror. If we are to learn any lesson from what happened in Benghazi, it should be that American lives come before Muslim diplomacy and that any government which does not put American lives first, which does not take whatever measures are necessary to save their lives, regardless of what Muslims may think, is not an American government, but a post-American government.

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  • suzan

    What are the money issues behind the weapons trades ? Who gets the financial benefit ?

  • Rachel

    These Democrats have GOT to go! Naive and irresponsible….or treacherous and corrupt. Either way….they are finished.

  • Sunbeam

    It is a bitter lesson for America. Obama has not only been a failure but a total wreak and disappointment to the whole American race except for his brotherhood. It's really too bad that he finally shows himself what he is. He can be called a traitor and a traitor should have no place in the American Administration or policy decision making. This would spell danger and danger lurks.

  • watsa46

    The real question is: what is the real agenda of Pr. O????
    We do not know and obviously he refuses to be honest and tell the American people!
    Money is a mean not an end.

  • Ronald Whaley

    And if this is the case then someone should face charges and prison for life. This is insane and should NEVER happen in America. We do NOT leave people behind or abandon them for such BS. I have 2 now serving and it scares the hell out of me to think our government might put them in harms way and then turn their back on them. What the hell are we doing people? WHAT?
    Ron Whaley
    USN/Disabled

  • Sunbeam

    It's dangerous for him to be elected again. We hope the Americans will give him a thumbs down in just a few more days to election. . Dangerous:…… in the sense that whatever he does or commit will be to his brotherhood's end. Americans will be sideline, then. Act while there's still time so that the tide nay turn to Romney's favor. We're not to waste our vote. Every single vote counts, even those who are not capable to make it to the poll, they can be wheel. We must not give up hope.

  • https://www.facebook.com/bill.otinger Bill Otinger

    34 SAILORS MURDERED 174 WOUNDED see Below Video, Survivors told to SHUT UP, if they Told anyone about it they would be Court-Martialed or Worse (Death) Senator McCain Father was involved in the Cover up

    Now the Survivors are Calling for a CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATION they Deserve one

    During the ATTACK Help was sent then Recalled

    President Johnson was head saying I wont that G-Damn Ship on the Bottom of the Sea

    This was a False/Flag with a twist to Get America into the WAR. It Failed and thanks to a REAL MIRACLE the Ship did not Sink.

    Oligarchy Bankers Control our Presidents, However what ever Controls the Bankers Appear to be Beyond Beyond EVIL
    http://youtu.be/ZluFfyQ7sAI

    • Mary Sue

      sure bring up something that happened in 1967 that has nothing to do with what's going on now. Oligarchy bankers? Nice dog whistle there, antisemitism is your calling card I see.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "This was a False/Flag with a twist to Get America into the WAR. It Failed and thanks to a REAL MIRACLE the Ship did not Sink. "

      But it stopped spying after 9 hours of mock attacks. Not much of a sneak attack, nor was it a very well-planned false flag operation to make mock attacks in advance (of the armed attacks) totally within Geneva Convention rules of war and so forth. What exactly did the Israeli's do to lead you to your conclusion? You make no sense at all unless you focus only on bigoted hyperbolic statements rather than the facts of what happened.

      Why are you so gullible? You have blind faith in silly theories because you want to believe them. You're just another bigot, to say the least.

  • pierce

    It does not get any better than these comments. Every single one has meaning and truth. Amen

  • Judith

    Fire the "Terrorist"!

  • co2insanity

    So basically, people died because Obama and his fellow libiots want to be stylish.

  • Joann Feldpausch

    This article explains a lot and the posts below it are good to read. FrontPagemag.com is a good site to go to.

  • Linda

    This article is spot-on. Being the mother of a soldier who just returned from Afghanistan, I can vouch for the fact that the current ROE is INSANE! If you remember the riots after the koran burnings, guess what our soldiers were told to do? NOTHING! They made them stand there unarmed and told them to use bats if they were attacked. They took away their guns! They had to stand overwatch with no bullet in the chamber and their pistols on safety. How quickly can you react when armed like this??? Now why, you ask, would they deliberately keep our soldiers unarmed or barely armed? For the reasons stated above–God forbid we hurt or offend the Muslims in any way. Who cares what happens to our troops? Get Obama the hell out of our COUNTRY.

  • tommy lumpkin

    so….here it is….!!!

  • PLT SGT CHE

    Among the best accounts of the failure to prevent

    the very preventable Ben’ghazi Consulate tragedy.

  • Lynne

    It is my belief these men were killed for a reason .. what else could it be? There are no 'reasons' they can conjure up the "need more info" crap they want .. nobody believes it.

  • SortingThrough

    "[I]t is important for us to remember that such decisions come out of a mindset that says there are diplomatic goals that are more important than American lives."

    Based on your argument, am I to assume that sacrificing American lives during a war effort is okay–that is, to put American lives at risk to achieve goals during a war effort is okay–, but to lose lives, even if unintentionally, while working toward diplomatic goals is not okay?

    At the very least you are saying that the lives in Benghazi were intentionally sacrificed, yes? Not that risks were taken toward a diplomatic goal, but that the men on the ground were intentionally sacrificed?

    No, I'm not that thick… you truly believe that that is what went down? Not calculated risks but intentional sacrifices?

    Your possible explanation for the series of events is as good an explanation when compared to conspiracy theories I've read to date online (another good, though equally ugly was the president didn't act out of the fear that he would have been accused of creating a situation to boost his campaign so close to the election), but I don't get the derision toward diplomatic efforts.

    I don't get it unless you are limiting your derision to knowingly and purposefully sacrificing American lives versus taking calculated risks for diplomatic and not campaign reasons. War after all is a calculated risk; how could diplomacy not be, particularly in a violence-prone area?

    Some diplomatic goals are loftier than some, and some–just like some war efforts–we might find morally contemptible. (Personally, I'd get out of the Middle East; enough is enough.) And while I think your rule–American lives come before Muslim diplomacy–is one that many can agree on, I don't think it's necessarily that black and white in the field. I think calculated risks are calculated risk… and risk, well, implies the chance that you'll be wrong.

    I don't know that we'll ever know the truth and I appreciate your speculation, but I am reminded that it is just that.

  • dannyjeffrey44

    Another installment on the theory of Benghazi http://www.freedomrings1776.com/2012/11/benghazi-

  • auntdeedee

    FTA: Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods are our government’s sacrifices of peace.

    Not "peace", but "appeasement"…

  • Usman Ghani

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