Saturday, May 11, 2013

Benghazi - What We Should Do About It

Benghazi - the "scandal" that won't go away or be explained in any way that makes sense.  Exactly what is being "covered up" and why was there a so-called "cover up"?

As far as I can tell, the "scandal" consists of the Obama Administration claiming through statements made by then UN representative Susan Rice shortly after the tragic events of September 11, 2012 in Benghazi, Libya, that the cause of the killing of our envoy and other US Embassy employees was possibly a spontaneous attack on the Embassy as a response to an inflammatory amateur video made in the US that questioned the Islamic religion.  The attack instead turned out to be a planned attack by a local Al Qaeda group that just happened to coincide with riots then taking place in other Islamic countries that were indeed in response to this film.

The scandalous story line asserts that the Administration made this false claim to deflect criticism that they should have supplied more security to the Embassy staff beforehand.  If the attack were spontaneous, such security needs could not have been anticipated but an Al Qaeda threat should have been anticipated.  Or so the story line goes.

Or perhaps the Administration made their claim to avoid some other line of criticism.  I really am not clear on  what advantage the Administration had to gain by offering a misleading explanation for the attack knowing that the actual truth would inevitably come out and fairly soon at that.  Indeed, it came out within the week and that should have been that. The original explanation could have been taken as a mistake.

If there was any scandal, it lay in the decision about security before the attack; this is a decision that should now be scrutinized fully, keeping in mind, however, that hindsight is 20-20.  But it does seem that a cover up would be pointless; there is no way that if this was an Al Qaeda related attack that the truth would never come out, nor does it seem possible that the Administration would be motivated to not let the blame fall on an Al Qaeda related group if that was where the blame should lay.

Whether this was a spontaneous attack inspired by religious fanaticism or a planned attack inspired by religious fanaticism, the attack was inspired by religious fanaticism.  Planned or spontaneous, who really cares?  What difference does it make?  It would seem that security would be a concern in any country that either harbors religiously fanatical regular people in the streets or religiously fanatical people in terrorist cells.

A constructive exploration of this tragedy would consist of a true examination of the role of religious extremism in the so-called "Arab Spring."  Can anything good come from any change in governments unless the resulting new regime is a secular, free democratic republic where the rights of the individual are protected fully or at least somewhat?   Is it really better to be governed by a democratically elected majority of religious fanatics as opposed to being ruled by a more secular dictator who did not oppress women and/or non-believers as much as the clerics or fanatics that would replace him?  The goal is individual freedom of which democracy is an indispensable aspect but not the sole factor.  This is the conversation that needs to be had.

Instead, all we have is politics.  I mean that in the worst way.

There is a way to address the poisonous political discourse.  It's called term limits.  If Congressional members did not have to constantly worry about raising money and getting re-elected, perhaps they might have time to consider the welfare of the citizens of the US.  As I've written before in this blog, Job One is re-gaining control of our democracy.  Campaign finance reform, an end to voter suppression, outlawing Gerrymandering, reforming the electoral college and term limits for all branches of government may not solve all our political problems, but it is a guarantee that they would be a great help.
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