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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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:


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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Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘The Strange Credulity of David Ignatius’

Full post here.

Pretty much a takedown of David Ignatius, who writes for the Washington Post:

‘The subject of yesterday’s column hinges on an interview Ignatius recently conducted in Paris with Manaf Tlass, of whom I have spoken before. In the column, titled in the paper, “A Way Out of Assad’s Syria”, Ignatius allows and enables Tlass to characterize himself as a conflicted Syrian elite apostate who early on separated himself from the atrocities committed by the regime.’

There’s always someone to tell you what you want to hear.

Related On This Site:  Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’

Liberal Internationalism is hobbling us, and the safety of even the liberal internationalist doctrine if America doesn’t lead…Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘Is Manaf Tlass’s Defection a Sign That Assad’s Regime Is Cracking?” From Foreign Affairs-’Former Syrian General Akil Hashem on the Uprising in Syria’From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Syria’s Regime Not Worth Preserving’

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