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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