Lara Logan At 60 Minutes Via Youtube-More on Benghazi

Update:  How reliable is that British contractor, anyways?

Logan interviews a British soldier hired to provide security to our mission in Benghazi, who was on-scene in the weeks leading-up to and during the attack.

Full embedded video can be viewed here at Legal Insurrection (addition: or CBS).

My takeaway, for what it’s worth: There were plenty of direct warnings that Benghazi was highly unsafe, and that the American mission there was specifically being targeted by Al Qaeda and enemy forces.   It was very risky to be there at that point, with unreliable, local security forces, relatively un-secure locations, and with Al Qaeda flags flying all over town.

After both the attack and the order to stand down during the attack, I suspect official messages given to the American public were part of a larger strategy:  To forward liberal internationalist policy and keep the administration’s goals in view.  They wanted to keep a lid on things, and not provoke other uprisings which were going on at the time throughout the Middle-East.   Basically, the State department didn’t want to rock the boat too much and was directed to continue the PR campaign to soothe the Arab Street in order to further the idea of democratic activism and grass-roots Arab-Spring civil unrest.  The U.S. and its military needed to be seen as a non-threatening force, subsuming itself to International institutions as well as carrots and sticks for democracy promotion.

Basically, I attribute very risky decision-making and possible incompetence for our decision to still be there under those conditions.  Perhaps there were other operations going on, as you never get all the facts, and it seems Chris Stevens was particularly dedicated.  I attribute incompetence and possibly other motives regarding the decision to stand-down and the ‘not a planned attack’ response the administration gave to the American people.  This could range from aggressively staying-on-message (look at Syria and Iran, as this administration’s proven to hold particularly idealistic objectives and a lack of strategy) to poor leadership to political calculation and maintaining the appearance of meeting political objectives despite obvious contrary evidence.

Tell me what I’m missing!

Any thoughts and comments are welcome

See previous posts below which indicate that if there was a cover-up, it likely has as much to do with CIA operations in the area.

Update:  See what’s become a very embarrassing story for Lara Logan: Via Mediaite: CBS 60 Minutes’ Lara Logan Apologizes for Erroneous Benghazi Survivor Report: ‘We Were Wrong’

Addition:  Thanks for the link: Eli Lake at the Daily Beast: Benghazi’s Al Qaeda Connection.

Related On This SiteLara Logan On Afghanistan Via Youtube: ’2012 BGA Annual Luncheon Keynote Speech’

Conor Friedersdorf At The Atlantic-’The Attack In Benghazi: Worth Investigating After All’

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’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’From The WSJ: “Allies Rally To Stop Gadhafi”From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanFrom The New Yorker: ‘How Qaddafi Lost Libya’

Just how far Left is this administration anyways? Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’

Full piece here.

This seems worthy of note, given the current American foreign policy regime:

‘And yet Libya—so far the most aggressive humanitarian intervention of the 21st century—depended not on any broad public movement nor any urgent security threat. There was instead a chain of private conversations: Hillary Clinton moving Barack Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy moving Dmitri Medvedev, and at the chain’s inception this romantic propagandist, Bernard-Henri Lévy. “I think this war was probably launched by two statesmen,” Lévy told me. “Hillary Clinton and Sarkozy. More modestly, me.”*


“No, no, no, no,” Lévy says. “My country, our country, for the first time since the American Revolution, has come to a foreign country to help a revolution, to help a war of liberation, and this is good, this is beautiful, this is noble …”


“Pascal Bruckner, another French philosopher and often an ally of Lévy’s, notes that this is Lévy’s natural mode. “Elections, discussions with the unions, economic problems—all these problems do not interest him,” he says. What Lévy has instead is “a will to turn politics into an epic, and to abandon everything that is prosaic.”

Well, I’ve heard the approach unaffectionately termed “neo-neo-colonialism.”  Is it working?

Is victory defined as freedom from the injustices of the tyrant?  Was this the “wise” course as opposed to the invasion of Iraq (which is flaring into sectarian violence after withdrawal)…by properly distancing ourselves and by respecting the will of  the Libyan people (or leaving them to their mess and alligning with Europe)?  Or is that just because some folks agree with the principles and the less violent outcome is a bonus?

Are the architects of any war responsible for those outcomes?


Here’s a Leo Strauss quote on Edmund Burke posted earlier.  It’s a strange place to find ourselves with a Frenchman (of the Left) potentially at the helm of our foreign policy:

“What ever might have to be said about the propriety of Burke’s usage, it is here sufficient to note that, in judging the political leaders whom he opposed in the two most important actions of his life, he [sic Burke] traced their lack of prudence less to passion than to the intrusion of the spirit of theory into the field of politics.”

Addition:  Of course, if he is actually at the helm of our foreign policy…

Related On This Site:…Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And OthersFrom The New Yorker: ‘How Qaddafi Lost Libya’

From Foreign Affairs: ‘The Problem With Obama’s Decision To Leave Iraq’Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’

Yes, Edmund Burke opposed the French Revolution: Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution

Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’

Full post here.

Henri-Levy has been on the ground working with the Libyans for some time, during a relatively dangerous time.  Agree with him or not, he’s placed himself at risk and helped others to understand some of what could be at stake for themselves and the West in Libya (The New York Observer has a review of his recent book “Left In Dark Times: A Stand Against The New Barbarism”).   He frames the murder and parading of Gadhafi’s corpse thusly:

‘Either this collective crime will be, like the beheading of the last king of France in Albert Camus’s account, the founding act of the coming era, which would be a terrible sign. Or it will be the swan song of a barbarous age, the end of the Libyan night, the death rattle of Gaddafi’s system, which, before expiring, must turn against its founder and inject him with his own venom, making way for a new era that will fulfill the promises of the Arab Spring.’

As I write, the latter is my ardent wish. More than that, it is my conviction’

There is a bit of the romantic, war-correspondent at work here, and a more sober eye could be cast upon American interests (and how far can we really trust a Frenchman with those?).  If we look at it with a Burkean lens, that tradition is still carrying the flame of a more radical, Rousseauian, highly individualized, post-Enlightenment liberty and its dangers.  Henri-Levy is part of a tradition that defines liberty much more broadly than many Americans are comfortable with and which poses great risk to the efficacy of our institutions and our freedoms.  He has stood up against anti-semitism and anti-Americanism and other dangerous strains of the French and European Left, but…still.

We may come to reap the benefits of closer cooperation with Britain and France in protecting their interests, and helping them in their backyard, spreading some of the anti-Western sentiment and reasonable suspicion around that America has brought upon itself after Iraq and post 09/11.  We also may bind ourselves to decisions and decision-making that improperly define our responsibilities that can lead to greater conflict in seen and unforeseen ways.  It is a confusing time.

I’m skeptical it hasn’t been a mistake to put these ideas at the center of American foreign policy, just as I think it would be a mistake to exclude them entirely and exclude what many people may have learned on the ground in times of crisis as either intellectuals, war-correspondents, observers, aid-workers and other defenders and definers of liberty, especially in the Arab world right now.

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Addition: One of the major policy goals of the current administration seems to be siding with it sees as the interests of the people of the Middle-East, not necessarily the autocrats and dictators, and this Wilsonian direction as the path toward moral legitimacy.

Another addition: Just how far Left is this administration anyways?

Related On This Site: Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others……Paul Berman At The New Republic: ‘From September 11 to the Arab Spring: Do Ideas Matter?’

For anyone, but especially Leftists and recovering Leftists, it takes moral courage to stand up to the messianism, Islamic moral absolutism, and dark theocratic tendencies of the Middle East…liberty is key as well as moral responsibility to think in terms of the legitimacy of rule here at home: …From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’From Michael Totten: ‘An Interview With Christopher Hitchens’

Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution..

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From Reuters: ‘Gaddafi Killed As Libya’s Revolt Claims Hometown’

Full post here.

Related On This Site:  From Foreign Affairs: ‘The Libyan Rebels and Electoral Democracy’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’From The WSJ: “Allies Rally To Stop Gadhafi”… From The Washington Post: ‘Obama Authorizes Predator Drone Strikes In Libya’

Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

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May 13th, 2011-From Yahoo News: ‘Libyan Rebel Leaders Hold White House Talks’

Full post here.

“Obama held talks with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen about Libya, and they pledged that “as long as the Gaddafi regime continues to attack its own population, NATO will maintain its operations to protect civilians.”

NATO armed forces chief David Richards (Britain) says NATO must target Gadhafi.

Related On This Site:  Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’From The WSJ: “Allies Rally To Stop Gadhafi”From The Washington Post: ‘Obama Authorizes Predator Drone Strikes In Libya’

Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

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A Few Thoughts On Watching Operations In Libya

The idea that if there is a set of rights, or are rights, that a man has, and that citizens have, is a matter of deep debate in Western society.  It’s been one of the underlying themes of this blog.  Those like myself, who are dubious of claims to universal rights (as opposed to freedoms and responsibilities), err on the side of caution and conservatism in domestic and political affairs. This view generally seeks limited government, limited central planning, and limited adherence to overarching theories that so quickly can become institutional goals, burdensome regulations, leveling forces, and political bludgeons.  Generally, it’s not a view that fits well with humanitarian and universalist ideas in directing U.S foreign policy, but there’s always room for debate.

Perhaps a reasonable goal in long-term strategy is to weigh down the balance more toward diplomatic and political engagement, rather than current military engagement in the Middle-East.  Of course, it’s necessary to maintain force and the possibility of force to achieve certain objectives.  There are clear and real dangers to American security of which we all aware and must keep dealing with.

As the humanitarians might have it, the use of force may really only be morally permissible in rare cases of injustice where the international community must eventually convene, then intervene, in the affairs of others…as in Libya.  We must limit our own actions according to these principles, as circumstances dictate, and potentially subsume U.S  soverignty to build consensus.  Also, I believe, the people making current policy assume these principles are universal.  This is quite a change.

A fair summary? What would be some of the consequences of this view?

Feel free to highlight my ignorance.

Addition: Transcript of Obama’s full speech here.

Another Addition:  I should add that of course, there are rights:  the right to vote, the right to a fair trial, granted to me by the Constitution.  There are laws, which I must follow.  There is, however a deeper debate regarding positive and negative rights.  Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Related On This Site:  Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’From The WSJ: “Allies Rally To Stop Gadhafi”From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanFrom CSIS: ‘Turmoil In The Middle-East’From The New Yorker: ‘How Qaddafi Lost Libya’

A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

From The Atlantic: Samuel Huntington’s Death And Life’s WorkFrom The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel HuntingtonFrom Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’

Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

Via Yahoo: ‘Putin Likens U.N. Libya Resolution To Crusade Calls’

Full post here.

Maybe Putin needs to maintain his cred:

“The resolution is defective and flawed,” Putin told workers at a Russian ballistic missile factory. “It allows everything. It resembles medieval calls for crusades.”

What is in Russia’s best interests when it comes to Gadhafi?

The Telegraph has more on events.

Related On This Site:  Tit for tat…are Putin and NATO worth good faith effort?:  Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’From Bloomberg Businessweek: ‘Russia Will Cooperate With NATO on Missile Shield, Sets Terms’From The NY Times Via The A & L Daily: ‘Who Fears a Free Mikhail Khodorkovsky?’

Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

Just your average comrade: From Sky News Via Drudge: Putin Meets Reagan?

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Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’

Full piece here.

On the possible tensions within the democratic party surrounding military action in Libya, Mead notes:

‘President Obama beware:  If US troops are fighting in Libya in 2012 the ‘humanitarian hawks’ will likely be out campaigning against you in New Hampshire.’

Also, waiting for a coalition of international support and the benefits of doing so, while losing valuable time, still leaves the UN sending a mixed message:

‘More, the political objectives of the UN resolution are unclear.  The resolution aims to ban Gaddafi attacks on rebels, but doesn’t call for removing him from office.  Literally interpreted, this amounts to a call for an informal partition of Libya into pro- and anti-Gaddafi portions with foreign air forces keeping the peace between them.’


‘At this point, we must live in hope:  hope that the President and his team know what they are doing, and hope that an international show of force will bring a better future to Libya (which means a future with no Gaddafis in it) without further bloodshed.’

When I think of the choice between McCain and Obama, I still think Obama is the better choice on foreign policy.   But even if he has a deeper vision for the Middle-East rooted in liberal internationalism, some broader experience or understanding, and somewhat of a more left and universalist set of Western ideas (if not a clear strategy), he still must be the Commander in Chief and handle many of the same institutions and limitations as the last President.  Least of all he’ll have to handle his own party.

Libya country profile here.

Also On This Site:  Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Mubaraks, Mamelukes, Modernizers and Muslims’Walter Russell Mead’s New Book On Britain and America

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