David Ignatius At The Washington Post: ‘Lingering Questions About Benghazi’

Full piece here.

‘Looking back, it may indeed have been wise not to bomb targets in Libya that night. Given the uproar in the Arab world, this might have been the equivalent of pouring gasoline on a burning fire. But the anguish of Woods’s father is understandable: His son’s life might have been saved by a more aggressive response. The Obama administration needs to level with the country about why it made its decisions.’

If the decision was made to not save Tyrone Woods and Glenn Dougherty after they disobeyed the second order given to them to stand down, and in so doing the White House put some other priority first, what was that priority?

If the order was given just for policy reasons, and to protect a larger vision for the Middle East, then how is that vision working out?

This decision may be a pressure point where the the whole of the current administration’s foreign policy platform met the realities of the Middle East and continuing threat of radical Muslim terrorism.

We are using drone strikes, military and intelligence capabilities to protect ourselves from Al Qaida and other terrorist threats.  We are doing this 24/7.   Such actions can bring retaliation.  The liberal internationalist vision Obama is trying to project upon the Middle East appeals to the Muslim on the street, and tries to redirect American power so that either ‘moderate’ Muslims push the terrorists and radicals aside, or that Muslim sentiment is such that Muslim countries are induced with carrots and sticks into some international framework or a place at the international bargaining table.  Even further, Muslim sentiment may be such that Muslims agree to overthrow a tyrant and accept the burdens and responsibilities of more democratic institutions that come after a revolution (that America aids, instead of imposes, which is why this approach is the anti-Bush approach and one of Obama’s main points of pride).  Libya was a mild success in this regard, and there was some public sentiment to push out Ansar Al-Sharia after the Benghazi attack, but it is still chaotic and very dangerous and it remains to be seen what will happen there.  Iran and Afpak look much more daunting, as does Syria.

Some explanation would be nice, least of all for the four Americans who died to protect themselves and their country, and their families.

Addition:  Was it even a mild success?

Adam Garfinkle At The American InterestBenghazigate, Republicans Missing The Point-For Garfinkle, the point is that the Libyan war was a mistake in the first place, not the Bush-lite, masterfully played pivot off of Obama’s Cairo speech.  It’s spilling out all over the place.   It’s not meeting its objectives.  Regardless, politics does have its uses, and the main one is to hold our leaders accountable, regardless of party affiliation.

More emails?

Related On This Site:  Via Fox News: ‘CIA Operators Were Denied Request For Help During Benghazi Attack, Sources Say

From Eli Lake At The Daily Beast: ‘Exclusive: Libya Cable Detailed Threats’Eli Lake At The Daily Beast: ‘U.S. Officials Knew Libya Attacks Were Work of Al Qaeda Affiliates’ From The BBC Via Michael Totten: ‘Libya: Islamist Militia Bases Stormed In Benghazi’

Via Reuters: ‘U.S. Ambassador To Libya Killed In Benghazi Attack’

From Michael Totten’s Blog: ‘Two Hours’From The BBC Via Michael Totten: ‘Libya: Islamist Militia Bases Stormed In Benghazi’

Al Qaida back in AfPak: Lara Logan On Afghanistan Via Youtube: ’2012 BGA Annual Luncheon Keynote Speech’

The rise of Islamism across the region…Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

Didn’t we have this discussion a while ago:  Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

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Some Tuesday Political Links Heading Towards A Theme

Walter Russell Mead-‘News From Obama’s Home State

‘American liberalism today is in an advanced stage of intellectual decline. Cynical and short sighted interests wrap themselves in the increasingly tattered mantles of sacred ideas.’

David Brooks-The Upside Of Opportunism

‘The bottom line is this: If Obama wins, we’ll probably get small-bore stasis; if Romney wins, we’re more likely to get bipartisan reform. Romney is more of a flexible flip-flopper than Obama. He has more influence over the most intransigent element in the Washington equation House Republicans. He’s more likely to get big stuff done.’

Victor Davis Hanson-Why Liberals Think The Way They Do.

‘In short, twenty-first century elite liberalism has become a psychological condition, not a serious blueprint on how to solve real problems.’

Our politics are extremely contentious right now.  Does it follow that if liberalism is in decline then America is in decline?

Camille Paglia is a child of the 60’s, wants better art education and is suspicious of the liberal Statist turn, and the ease with which many liberals are comfortable with authoritarian solutions and groupthink from her perspective:

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Some Other Links:

California’s anti-immigration, anti-union Democrat: Full video and background on Mickey Kaus here.

Joel Kotkin on California’s demographic decline-Full post here.

Has the ground shifted beneath our feet…are we in decline and our politics can’t keep up….or just a period of rapid change?: Francis Fukuyama And Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘None Of The Above’

Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy’s entry On Liberalism.  I’m sure many liberals see matters differently.

Addition:  As a reader points out, liberalism may not be in decline.

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Related On This Site:  Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.  Technology is changing things rapidly, and maybe, as Charles Murray points out, it’s skewing the field toward high IQ positions while simultaneously getting rid of industrial, managerial, clerical, labor intensive office jobs.  Even so,  we can’t cling to the past.  This is quite a progressive vision but one that embraces change boldly.

Paglia and Nietzsche: Repost-Camille Paglia At Arion: Why Break, Blow, Burn Was Successful

Some thoughts on Fukuyama and Leo Strauss…relativism, multiculturalism and nihilism: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.New liberty away from Hobbes?: Repost-From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’  Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal: Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

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Charlie Rose Via Youtube: ‘The Future Of Foreign Policy’

Full video here. (Zbigniew Brzezinski, David Ignatius, Jim Jones and Michael Mazarr respond to Mazarr’s new article “The Risk Of Ignoring Strategic Insolvency“) More discussion of the piece here.

Are the days of 20th-century hegemonic power truly over?  Has America stretched her military thinner and thinner much beyond what her economy and public sentiment can bear?  Is prudence the best guide and are we groping towards a new foreign policy model with more balanced powers?   Can our politics respond?

How and whom do we lead, according to what ideas, and how do we get others to follow?

A few interesting points mentioned:

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1.  Even with a good strategy, we can still get bogged down in responding to event after event tactically.  Without a good strategy or model, it’s much more likely.  We may need to think about a major realignment of our resources.

2.  Brzezinski points out that either through Iraq and Afghanistan-like military occupation or through the Libya model, America is still betting on horses in the Middle-East by supplying guns, supporting rebels with special-ops on the ground, and I’d argue even through advocacy for human rights through NGOs which could eventually involve us more deeply.  Such activities involve us morally, and could involve us in future unforeseen ways even if our primary focus is no longer the Cold War.  We need to take a step back and recognize this.  Brzezinski’s “oughts” for America lean toward the the more liberal internationalist framework which would require checking our power and inducing say, China and Russia who don’t share many of our interests and values, into greater involvement.

***Despite his depth (he’s usually a few steps ahead), I think this leads Brzezinski to say that the American on the street, self-interested, mostly ignorant and focused on his own life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, will be insufficently broad-minded to support the kind of policy Brzezinski might ultimately like to see.  This involves a vision of who does have legitimate moral authority over the rest of us.

I’d add that all participants in the video have their own ideas, professional obligations and responsibilities (defending their own records or promoting their careers and positions) in trying to define tough problems, gather facts, and figure out the best way forward.

Interesting discussion.  Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Related On This SiteObama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’…Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are…upon the raft of Kantian perpetual peace?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington

Brzezinski and Kissinger still having it out?:  From Newsweek: Henry Kissinger ‘Deployments And Diplomacy’ Youtube Via Foreign Affairs: Zbigniew Brzezinski Discusses NATO And Foreign Policy

From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington….is neoconservative foreign policy defunct…sleeping…how does a neoconservatism more comfortable with liberalism here at home translate into foreign policy?: Wilfred McClay At First Things: ‘The Enduring Irving Kristol’

Francis Fukuyama At Foreign Affairs-’Foreign Affairs Editor Gideon Rose on Charlie Rose…how are our moral obligations determined, and what can political science do?:  Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

The liberal vision for higher ed:  From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

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Jamie Dettmer At The Daily Beast: ‘Was Benghazi Attack on U.S. Consulate an Inside Job?’

Full piece here.

There is a lot of confusion about what happened in Benghazi, but it’s increasingly clear that a decision was made by those in charge not to send reinforcements and it’s not entirely clear why not, once they had knowledge of events unfolding (fear of another Desert One?):

‘There are scant signs of any serious investigation into Ansar al-Sharia at the moment—a marked departure from the frenetic interest in the group in the days following the assault. On the heels of the attack, Libyan officials picked up a couple dozen people they said may have had information about the siege. Four remain in custody and all are linked to Ansar al-Sharia. But major figures in the Benghazi Salafist and jihadist firmament have not been questioned—including Ahmed Abu Khattala, the founder of another Salafist militia called Abu Obaida Bin Jarrah, which has some crossover membership with Ansar al-Sharia. ‘

As others have pointed out, the forces that have been unleashed in the Middle East, the rise of the Islamism, and the retrenching Al-Qaida may require greater realism, realpolitik, and overall strategy than the current administration’s liberal internationalist approach (the anti-Bush approach) is able to handle.

There’s also arguably no greater blow to morale than potentially leaving men to fight it out on their own, and perhaps, disobey orders in order to do their duty.  A tough spot.

Via Christopher Dickey, Eli Lake and Jaime Dettmer at Newsweek, the most accurate account of events about that night in Benghazi that I’ve come across.

Related On This SiteVia Fox News: ‘CIA Operators Were Denied Request For Help During Benghazi Attack, Sources Say

From Eli Lake At The Daily Beast: ‘Exclusive: Libya Cable Detailed Threats’Eli Lake At The Daily Beast: ‘U.S. Officials Knew Libya Attacks Were Work of Al Qaeda Affiliates’ From The BBC Via Michael Totten: ‘Libya: Islamist Militia Bases Stormed In Benghazi’

Via Reuters: ‘U.S. Ambassador To Libya Killed In Benghazi Attack’

From Michael Totten’s Blog: ‘Two Hours’From The BBC Via Michael Totten: ‘Libya: Islamist Militia Bases Stormed In Benghazi’

Al Qaida back in AfPak: Lara Logan On Afghanistan Via Youtube: ’2012 BGA Annual Luncheon Keynote Speech’

The rise of Islamism across the region…Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

Didn’t we have this discussion a while ago:  Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

Brzezinski and Kissinger still having it out?:  From Newsweek: Henry Kissinger ‘Deployments And Diplomacy’ Youtube Via Foreign Affairs: Zbigniew Brzezinski Discusses NATO And Foreign Policy

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From Darwinian Conservatism: ‘The Evolution of Mind and Mathematics: Dehaene Versus Plantinga and Nagel’

Full post here.

‘Today the leading philosopher defending religious belief is Alvin Plantinga.  He is a theistic evolutionist, who argues that theism is not just compatible with, but absolutely necessary for evolutionary science, and indeed for all of science.  As I have indicated in a previous post, I agree with him about the compatibility of theism and evolution, because evolutionary science leaves open the question of whether nature might ultimately depend upon God as First Cause.  But I disagree with his claim that theistic belief is absolutely necessary for evolutionary science.’

Related On This SiteFrom Darwinian Conservatism: ‘Jonathan Haidt’s Darwinian Conservatism’From Edge: ‘Re: What Makes People Republican? By Jonathan Haidt’…Evolutionary psychology and moral thinking: Franz De Waal At The NY Times 10/17/10: ‘Morals Without God?’

From Darwinian Conservatism By Larry Arnhart: “Surfing Strauss’s Third Wave of Modernity”

Simon Blackburn Reviews Steven Pinker’s “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial Of Human Nature” Via the University Of Cambridge Philosophy Department

Maybe if you’re defending religion, Nietzsche is a problematic reference: Dinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy…… From The Access Resource Network: Phillip Johnson’s “Daniel Dennett’s Dangerous Idea’Roger Scruton At The WSJ: ‘Memo To Hawking: There’s Still Room For God’

From The Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy Entry On Eliminative Materialism

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Via Fox News: ‘CIA Operators Were Denied Request For Help During Benghazi Attack, Sources Say

Full post and video here.

‘Former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods was part of a small team who was at the CIA annex about a mile from the U.S. consulate where Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team came under attack. When he and others heard the shots fired, they informed their higher-ups at the annex to tell them what they were hearing and requested permission to go to the consulate and help out. They were told to “stand down,” according to sources familiar with the exchange. Soon after, they were again told to “stand down.” 

Woods and at least two others ignored those orders and made their way to the consulate which at that point was on fire. Shots were exchanged. The rescue team from the CIA annex evacuated those who remained at the consulate and Sean Smith, who had been killed in the initial attack. They could not find the ambassador and returned to the CIA annex at about midnight.’

Woods was then killed by a mortar attack after about 6 hours and 20 minutes of fighting.  Still unfolding.

Addition:  Woods’ father spoke to Fox about the unsatisfying answers he got from the administration.  He’s not alone.  It would be nice to hear if there are good answers, and why the decisions that were made…were made.

Another Addition:  I should add that there may be good reasons why the above facts are simply incorrect.  Maybe there are sensitive reasons why no action was pursued.  I also recognize that there is a lot of populist and political motivation pushing to pursue the matter further, but there may also be political motivations for not pursuing the matter further.  We have four dead Americans involved in a 7 hour siege on what was essentially American soil.

Another:  Via Christopher Dickey, Eli Lake and Jaime Dettmer at Newsweek, the most accurate account of events about that night in Benghazi that I’ve come across.  A mess.

More from HotAir here.  There’s still a question of why it took so long to react, and why it’s taking so long, and how effective the current president’s policy is handling the rise of Islamism and those who will respond as enemies in the War On Terror.

Related On This SiteFrom Eli Lake At The Daily Beast: ‘Exclusive: Libya Cable Detailed Threats’

Eli Lake At The Daily Beast: ‘U.S. Officials Knew Libya Attacks Were Work of Al Qaeda Affiliates’ From The BBC Via Michael Totten: ‘Libya: Islamist Militia Bases Stormed In Benghazi’

Via Reuters: ‘U.S. Ambassador To Libya Killed In Benghazi Attack’

From Michael Totten’s Blog: ‘Two Hours’From The BBC Via Michael Totten: ‘Libya: Islamist Militia Bases Stormed In Benghazi’

Lara Logan On Afghanistan Via Youtube: ’2012 BGA Annual Luncheon Keynote Speech’

The rise of Islamism across the region…Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

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Update And Repost: ‘A Canadian Libertarian Making Noise: Ezra Levant’

Here are Levant’s opening statements during his investigation:

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Levant was fighting what he saw as an infringement upon his freedom of speech by the Human Rights Commission of Alberta.  As editor of the Western Standard, Levant published the Danish cartoons of Mohammed, and found himself investigated by, in his words, “a kangaroo court.”

Originally, a letter was written by Syed Soharwardy, an imam living in Alberta, to the Alberta Human Rights Commission.  Soharwardy claimed that the cartoons were morally offensive to the religion of Islam.  Levant believed his decision to publish the cartoons was protected by Canadian law, and that Soharwardy found a path to legal action (at the expense of Canadian taxpayers) through the Human Rights Commission because no one else would take Soharwardy’s claims seriously.

One of Levant’s main concerns seems to be the the way in which someone like Soharwardy, (with unchallenged religious beliefs, and illiberal ideas of social freedom), has infringed upon his freedoms through an institution like the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

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Heading towards a theme, here’s Mark Steyn discussing complaints brought against Macleans, Canada’s largest publication, by the President of the Canadian Islamic Congress (who sent three representatives) to TVOntario.   They were upset at the pieces Steyn had published there.  The complaints went through the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for alleged “Islamophobia” and “promoting hate:”

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Pretty heated.

Again, the focus here is not whether Islam is a religion whose followers would eventually clash with the idea of separation of church and state, and/or identify with a larger global pan-Muslim population at the expense of their adopted countries.  That’s a different debate.  We know that here in America, they are granted a space created by our Constitution for freedom of religion in the public square and no specific religious test for office.  They must follow our laws and are protected by them.  Living and working alongside one another has its benefits and I generally favor the melting pot approach.

The debate here focuses on the effect that multiculturalism, the human rights crowd, and the public sentiment behind them can have upon freedom of expression when Human Rights Commissions are allowed legal recourse to settle this kind of dispute.  This is one of the consequences of those ideas in action, and it’s not exactly liberal.  It’s the multicultural solution, and it can be absolutely chilling on speech, placing onerous financial burdens on citizens, and it can create a sort of shadow court with aims of its own (if not jurisdiction) operating alongside the regular courts.

We’re not anywhere near Choudary territory yet, but remember that Nidal Hasan, the Ft. Hood shooter, had some problems with “workplace violence”.  Most multiculturalists really don’t see a problem with their approach.

***A friend points out that the illiberal tendencies of the Muslim complainants in both cases and the illiberalism of the multiculturalists is a good fit.  Just don’t be a Canadian on the receiving end.

***This also helps to confirm the libertarian contention that libertarians are the true classical liberals, and modern liberalism has followed the logic of moral relativism, a lot of Continental, New Left, neo-Marxist influences in feminism and race theory which lead to an unhealthy desire to control and be controlled by the State, which will grow larger and larger.

Also On This Site:  From The BBC-Kurt Westergaard: ‘Cartoonist Attacker In Danish Court’

Repost-From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’

Virtual Philosophy has a series on free speech and some links and notes to J.S. Mill’s ‘On Liberty’ among others.  Is Mill’s utilitarianism enough?:  From virtual philosopher: ‘Free Speech: notes and links for course at Free Word Centre’

A British Muslim tells his story, suggesting that classical liberalism wouldn’t be a bad idea…as a more entrenched radical British Left and Muslim immigration don’t mix too well: From Kenanmalik.com: ‘Introduction: How Salman Rushdie Changed My Life’… Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’

Free speech (used both well and unwell) meets offended Muslims: Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks HeadbuttedDuring Lecture’From The OC Jewish Experience: ‘UC Irvine Muslim Student Union Suspended’From Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’

Repost-Eugene Volokh At The National Review: ‘Multiculturalism: For or Against?’Theodore Dalrymple Still Attacking Multi-Culturalism In BritainFrom The Volokh Conspiracy: Multiculturalism As A Traditional American Value

From Sultan Knish: ‘The Mirage Of Moderate Islam’