Benghazi blame game
Finger-pointing overshadows U.S.’s urgent concerns
Published: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 24, 2013 20:01
The long-awaited testimony of Hillary Clinton regarding the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans is, at least, a moment of the past.
Clinton stressed her comments that she takes responsibility for the incident in Benghazi this past fall, delivered personal anecdotes in connection with it and immediately went viral with this statement during an argument about the cause:
“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make?”
Does the argument of whether the deaths were a result of a planned attack or the result of a spontaneous protest due to an anti-Muslim film actually matter, though? Whatever the logistics are behind the attack, the government continues to ignore the common good. Questions are inevitable, and the answers behind them are important, but aggressively finding someone to place the blame on by politicizing the issue overshadows the country’s urgent concerns.
Unsurprisingly, Wednesday’s proceedings were just another round in the Republican versus Democrat blame game. The two parties pointed fingers during earlier Senate and House sessions. The GOP criticized Clinton and the Obama administration for “woeful unpreparedness and a disregard for warnings regarding the security of the consulate. On more than one occasion during her question, Clinton grew angry over accusations that the administration misled the country over where the attack stemmed from.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
What months ago appeared to be just tension from the election and a chance to get ahead is so much larger. It’s a tangible example of everything the two parties find wrong with each other in regards to foreign policy. It’s about past elections and future elections, failed negotiations and opposing platforms.
The trial played out like a campaign except someone forgot to tell our government leaders they are four years too early. Those private intentions – a desire to set the scene for 2016 – became more and more obvious with every question and answer.
Even with Clinton taking responsibility, she knew her legacy as secretary of state would come back to bite her if she made a run for the White House if she didn’t play it carefully, never fully giving in or owning up. In addition, she had to fight a battle with two potential Republican contenders: Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky, who were polar opposites in the trial – Rubio demonstrating that he is non-partisan and Paul promising Clinton’s termination if he had been in charge.
The conversation has been a terrible distraction to the issues at hand, however. Amidst arguments and heated discussion, we learned at least 20 other U.S. diplomatic posts around the world are under serious threat and under surveillance for potential attacks.
This is not an isolated issue. The country has a diplomatic responsibility to improve security where government has been weakened and armed militias increased. That includes northern Mali, where weapons have been flowing from Libya following the fall of Moammar Gadhafi, and in Algeria, where Clinton stated she has no doubt such weapons were used in an attack just last week. The United States has a responsibility to bring the Benghazi murderers to justice but also to make sure this never happens again.
Clinton told senators, “we’ve come a long way in the past four years, and we cannot afford to retreat now,” but we risk that if we cannot get beyond grasping for straws to bring politics into this further. We require proper diplomacy and nation-building for that to happen, and to reach that point, our government needs to get past campaign strategies and dreams of the Oval Office. It simply cannot work that way.