Do you remember October 23, 1983? This was the day 241 U.S. Marines (and 58 French soldiers) were killed in a suicide bombing on their barracks near the airport in Beirut. President Reagan was even warned. A former defense secretary for Ronald Reagan says he implored the president to put Marines serving in Beirut in a safer position before terrorists attacked them in 1983, killing 241 servicemen. The Secretary of Defense (Caspar Weinberger) warned the president and yet no one lay blame upon his administration. The military took the fall.
Fast forward 29 years to another violent Middle Eastern city, Benghazi. Four Americans tragically lost their lives in an unfortunate terror strike on the US consulate in the war-weary Libyan city. After admittedly cutting embassy and consulate security funding GOP House Members defend their actions as necessary even though Secretary of State Clinton advised against such irresponsible measures. They seem to want to assign blame to the President when it is obvious they are partially responsible for the tragedy. Somehow, our CIA and military, headed by General David Petraeus (who was appointed by Bush), were not complicit. The GOP went straight for President Obama, who unlike Reagan after Beirut, was somehow responsible for the debacle. The Right wants to believe President Obama has surely committed an impeachable offense simply being in office while four Americans lost their lives in a consulate attack. The absurdity of the blame game was best expressed by Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY) who spoke of the budget cuts at a recent hearing:
…”the audacity to come here when the administration requested, for worldwide security, $440 million more than you guys wanted to provide. And the answer is that you damn didn’t provide it! You REDUCED what the administration asked for to protect these people. Ask not who the guilty party is, it’s you! It is us. It is this committee, and the things that we insist that we need have to cost money.”
He added, “Could you tell me which of my colleagues on this committee was as bodacious in their insistence that we provide more money for American security in the State Department budget. I would appreciate it.”
President Obama should not be held accountable for the irresponsible acts of the Republican Congressmen, yet they continue to demonize him and his cabinet. Susan Rice, the UN Ambassador, has acted appropriately based on the information provided to her by CIA briefings. However, Senators McCain and Graham have been on an insane witch hunt of Ambassador Rice, trying desperately to discredit President Obama through her. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga) also won’t let the matter rest, eagerly looking for Rice to assume responsibility. While attending hearings where Petraeus spoke Friday, asked, “How did this group penetrate the facility that we had in Benghazi, and who were these folks?” After the hearings concluded, he told reporters, “We’re getting closer to determining that. We know they were Al Qaeda affiliates or Al Qaeda itself.” So where’s the controversy? An underfunded consulate in a hostile Al Qaeda populated country was the unfortunate target of terrorists. How is this so much worse than an administration ignoring all the CIA briefings pointing to the original 9/11 attacks? Perhaps there’s more to this story than meets the eye. I am entertaining a few ideas.
1. This is a smokescreen to cover up the real story about Benghazi: Perhaps it was the GOP’s 2012 October Surprise gone terribly wrong? That’s why Willard held that “impromptu press conference” back on September 15th. Romney said, “I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” The response was not from the Obama administration – it was from the Cairo embassy. Obviously, he was simply lying as he’s so adroitly accustomed to doing. Perhaps Rove, Romney and heaven knows who else were in collusion trying to create a situation designed to make the President look weak on foreign affairs, an area which he has definitely excelled. Romney’s strange behavior the days following the attack and in the second debate certainly puts a question or two in my mind there may be something to a theory pointing to the GOP’s culpability.
2. This whole Petraeus/Broadwell/Kelley/Allen SNAFU is merely a canard. The real issue in trying to quickly dispose of Petraeus was not his inappropriate sexual conduct, but his general incompetence. The Republicans have a tendency to deify people that aren’t exactly deserving of high praise. The surge he so assuredly convinced President Obama to undertake in Afghanistan was based on flawed information on the Iraq surge’s success. It happened to coincide with a sectarian Iraqi Civil War and thus given credit to decreased violence in the nation. Comparing this strategy to the surge in Afghanistan was perhaps the only way to keep the war profiteers in business and continue the perpetual war mentality. The evidence of the success of the surge points much to the contrary by those really in the know. It’s largely possible President Obama has learned this and was going to fire Petraeus anyway for being deceptive. This would further solidify the incompetence of everything surrounding the Bush Administration and the GOP can’t afford any further embarrassment.
During the Bush Administration, there were 12 embassy attacks and 53 American casualties. Not once were George W. Bush and his crime family ever held accountable for any of these tragedies. We know now the Bush Administration, including then NSA director Condoleezza Rice, ignored warnings given by the prior to 9/11/2001 and then fabricated evidence of WMD to involve us in Iraq. President Obama has been a paragon of virtue when compared to his predecessor. The GOP has been trying to manufacture scandals when it comes to him and all his officials, especially those who are African-American. First it was Van Jones, then Shirley Sherrod, then Valerie Jarrett and the ever-present attacks launched upon Attorney General Eric Holder prior to this charade of investigations on Ambassador Rice. Obviously, there is a tremendous problem with anyone in a position of power that looks similar to slaves rather than slave-owners. Perhaps that sounds a bit extreme, but is it really? If one considers Paul Ryan’s given excuse for losing this election: the GOP failed to mobilize the urban vote (also known as “Black” and Latino), you can see coded racist language so commonly found in the Republican Party.
If ever there was a time for outrage, it was when we allowed corrupt, GOP appointed generals to be in command of our foreign policy, not when we are trying to act responsibly to keep the world from despising the United States. It’s high time the Department of Defense stop controlling our foreign policy and allow those interested in maintaining peace, not war to take charge. I certainly am hopeful those days of foreign policy ineptitude are behind us with President Obama at the helm.