(/sites/default/files/uploads/2012/09/1347558331466.cached.gif)Winston Churchill once said, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last.” On September 11, Christopher Stevens, a career diplomat, became one of the first Americans in Libya to feed the crocodile of Ansar Al-Sharia and learned too late that while appeasers may hope to be eaten last, they are often eaten first.
Christopher Stevens was a Middle Eastern diplomat who typified the new breed going from the University of Berkeley and the Peace Corps to desks in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria. He taught English to Moroccan children in the Peace Corps and helped Palestinian Arabs in the East Jerusalem Consulate, which has a firm policy of pretending that Israel does not exist.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said of Christopher Stevens that he “made other people’s hopes his own” and that may serve as a fitting eulogy both for Stevens and for the disastrous foreign policy of making “other people’s hopes” our own that brought on the Arab Spring.
Stevens, like Clinton and Obama, made the hopes of Islamists his own and they repaid him for it, just as Afghans repaid America for supporting them against the Soviet Union, as Lebanon and Somalia repaid America’s peacekeeping efforts by killing American troops and on down the litany of gratitude in bombs and bullets that have come America’s way from the Muslim world.
“He risked his life to stop a tyrant, then gave his life trying to build a better Libya,” Hillary Clinton said, but if anything his murder exposed the lie that there is a better Libya now than there was before Hillary and he intervened in Libya. Clinton’s eulogy comes perilously close to conceding Stevens’ real mission and the degree of American intervention in the overthrow of Gaddafi.
Stevens was the connection between the Islamist Benghazi rebels and the Obama administration’s illegal war to overthrow Gaddafi. His mission, like the true mission of the war, was secret, and the consulate, marginally fortified and devoid of Marines, reflected that secrecy. Stevens did not think that he had anything to fear from the Islamists because they were his friends.
In the Wikileaks cables, Stevens cheerfully described fighters who saw “resistance against coalition forces in Iraq” as “an important act of ‘jihad’” and local businessmen who took pride in the number of suicide bombers who had come out of the area. For years he had walked safely in their company without understanding that he was just as much of a target as a Marine in Baghdad, but without the training, the weapons or the survival skills.
The only reason Christopher Stevens had lasted this long is that the jihadist fighters had known a useful man when they met him. And Stevens proved to be very useful, but his usefulness ended with Gaddafi’s death. Once the US successfully overthrew Gaddafi and began focusing on stabilizing Libya, Stevens ceased to be a useful idiot and became a useless nuisance. Attacks soon followed on the Benghazi consulate and on other consulates as well, but the Marines were not brought in and Stevens continued relying on local goodwill to secure his offices. It was only a matter of time until the attackers got through.
Clinton, her State Department and its media allies appear unnaturally eager to paint Christopher Stevens as an American martyr to the cause of Libyan Islamism, a kinder, gentler Rachel Corrie who willingly died so that the Islamists might have their dream of an Islamic state in Libya.
We will of course never know what was going through Christopher Stevens’ mind on September 11, 2012, as he battled the choking smoke, experiencing what so many New Yorkers had experienced on September 11, 2001. Like them, he was faced with a terrible dilemma, a choice between remaining in the fire and committing suicide by going outside.
Many in the World Trade Center chose to jump to their deaths, but Christopher Stevens chose to remain inside and die rather than face the tender mercies of his attackers. Stevens had spent enough time in Libya to have seen what the jihadist fighters did to their captives and must have known what horrors he could expect at their hands. The photos that have been released, along with claims by Libyan jihadists that they sexually assaulted his corpse, suggest that he made the right choice. And perhaps in those final moments, facing that terrible choice, Christopher Stevens finally understood the true horror of the Muslim world that he had fallen in love with as a Peace Corps volunteer.
“He was an avid student of Islam and the Middle East, and consistently strove to build the proverbial bridge between our two cultures in the face of sometimes overwhelming antagonism and bitter misunderstanding,” a friend from the diplomatic service tells us. But though Christopher Stevens may have studied Islam, he had learned very little about it, and so his final lesson was the bloody one that Westerners who never really learn what Islam is about end up receiving.
“The world needs more Chris Stevenses,” Hillary Clinton said, but does it really? Does it need more tall dead blond Americans lying bloodied in the gutters of Muslim cities? Does it need men who give up the hopes and dreams of their country to take on the dreams of their enemies without ever realizing where the fatal road of those dreams leads?
Stevens’ former Peace Corps colleague says of him, “Chris devoted his career, and life, to improving relations between the Arabic/Islamic world and the West.” That he did and he died doing it, losing whatever career or life he might have had if he had not embarked on a futile errand to make the Muslims who killed him and paraded around his body like him. And like all those who have died over the years in the same cause, the effort was to no avail.
“It’s especially tragic that Chris Stevens died in Benghazi because it is a city that he helped to save,” Obama said, repeating the same lie that he used to drag America into his illegal war. Benghazi was not in any need of saving, it was the Americans who came to Benghazi, like Chris Stevens, who needed saving.
That is the terrible blind spot in our vision which, like Christopher Stevens, tells us that we need to save the Muslims who hate us, rather than showing us that we need to save ourselves.
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