Death Of An Ambassador – The U.S. In A Ring Of Fire

Ambassador Chris Stevens and three colleagues’ deaths in Libya and Egyptians storming embassy walls underscore the Arab Spring was always the Arab Decade. Both events also should give further pause to the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) sentimentalists blithely calling for military action against Assad.

Middle East, Libya, Egypt, Chris Stevens

Focus On Each Country And Its Politics

Contrary to many media outlets, we’re not convinced the infamous anti-Mohammed YouTube video proximately caused the deaths and riots. We believe local politics and intrigues played the key roles and the video used as an excuse or cover; blaming a video helps create an easily understandable overarching explanatory narrative. Comforting but unhelpful.

For example, in Cairo a handful of long-standing militant Islamists protesting outside of the embassy for months took advantage of momentary confusion to climb the embassy walls and plant their black flag. The next day, the Egyptian government eventually restored order. That delay raises worrying signals about the new Egyptian government’s intent.

In Benghazi it increasingly looks like an armed faction opposed to liberal democratic process pre-planned a coordinated guerrilla assault with mortars, RPGs and artillery fire. That now famous YouTube video clip mocking Mohammed at most served as cover and distraction. Attackers knew routines and consulate layout. Contrary to Neocon claims Libyans dragged deceased Americans through the streets, U.S. officials report 10 Libyans died defending the consulate and others hand carried the U.S victims to the hospital.

If you’re reminded of Sérgio Vieira de Mello’s assassination in Iraq, the purposes are not too dissimilar. U.S. resolve is certainly being tested. We support engagement in Libya yet believe the American people – for many reasons – have not been told the time and commitment and risk of non-engagement.

Questions about Libya carry over to Syria, too. As we noted above, Syria is a separate ethnic, economic and political mosaic. Even if force of arms ala Libya could be made politically viable, operationally it’s no Libya as you know Dear Reader – logistically and militarily. “Assad must go”. Even more than Libya, and then what?

As we said at the outset, the Arab Spring is really the Arab Decade. Each nation will take that long to work out its political institutions and new traditions – and likely will arrive at different answers.

Romney’s Lehman Moment?

Not much needs to be said here about Romney’s bizarre partisan public responses. You’ve seen the coverage. Craven? Irresponsible? Sure. But that’s been his M.O. during the primaries and to date on a variety of issues. When expediency is one’s polestar, one can’t expect honoring the tradition of bi-partisanship in the face of national tragedy.

That’s what John Galt would do.


  1. says

    The circumstances around that video are in fact objectively bizarre. Don’t think it adds up to larger conspiracy but it does make me think there is more weirdness to come on that front.

    I was actually surprised that the Romney campaign admitted they released the statement to reinforce narrative. Diversion or rats fleeing sinking ship? Agreed that the content of the revelation was not a surprise.

    • Dr Leo Strauss says

      “It does make me think there is more weirdness to come on that front.”

      The perfect description. The surreal is just accepted now as today’s news cycle and then yesterday’s obvious factoid.

      Romney is now starting to get national security briefings. It will be interesting to see how he proceses that data and information with his archaic Neocon-inspired prism.

      The NYT story on how Romney and advisors wrote the initial denunciatory statement and then press answers does shut down the concerted effort by Republican professional operatives in D.C. to claim the campaign stumbles are the fault of an insular, control-oriented family circle, excluding professional advice. The easy excuses are falling away.

  2. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Perils of blogging about breaking events – the ‘MSM’ and Twitterverse eventually coalesced around the above as the consensual interpretation in less than 24 hours.

    We give the media a B-.

    The provenance of the famous video pursued with both gusto and elan. No one seems to ask the AP or other outlets why they accepted the fictitious movie producer’s proffered cellphone number, name and history without seeking bona fides or fact checking.

    Surprising how long it took to demolish Romney’s claim that embassy personnel are part of the Administration. (As you know, the Foreign Service is apolitical).

    The Romney campaign’s admission they released their statement simply to reinforce an existing campaign narrative (Obama is Carter) is no surprise. Neither are the aggressive subroutines generated by neocons and others still percolating, i.e., the Marines in Egypt lacked live ammunition and had been disarmed. Yearning for existential war remains so potent even after 2003-2011.

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