[Editor's Note from Rob Long: Melissa O'Sullivan, aside from being lovely and intelligent, is also the wife of John O'Sullivan, editor, journalist and fellow National Review contributor. Melissa sent me this email, which I insisted she post here on Ricochet. But she had to become a member first! Please welcome her if you're a member. And if you aren't, now is the perfect time to join Melissa and the rest of us!]
September 17, 2012
UPDATE: U.S. officials have told The New York Times and CNN that the deadly consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya, which killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, may have been planned in advance. According to the CNN report, "attackers used the protest outside the consulate as a diversion," though sources "could not say whether the attacker instigated the protest or merely took advantage of it.”
Ambassador Chris Stevens, 52, died as he and a group of embassy employees went to the consulate to try to evacuate staff as a crowd of hundreds attacked the consulate Tuesday evening, many of them firing machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades -- Huffington Post, Sept. 12 and updated Sept. 13
Having spent a few decades in the contract security business, dealing with both private sector and federal government security, it’s been a painful few days, listening to governmental officials and reading the commentary on the tragic events unfolding in the Middle East. It is also disheartening that our mainstream media were more intent on playing “gotcha” with Romney then asking the Obama Administration officials why we would send Ambassador Stevens to evacuate personnel from a consulate located in a region that had been a war-zone mere months ago, and was still hugely unsettled, on 9-11??? Why was our top man in Libya part of an evac team? There is not a fifth rate Facility Security Officer working in Huntsville, Alabama who would have constructed a scenario that left our U. S. Ambassador so exposed. Al Qaeda targeted moderate imams in the early dates of Iraqi reconstruction efforts, so of course Ambassador Stevens would be a target, for his very effectiveness in helping the newly placed pro-Western government in Libya.
This is a failure, pure and simple of this Administration at all levels. The foreign policy, the forward deployment of a consulate in a volatile region, a facility that does not have the necessary security infrastructure reflective of that volatile environment, and an undermanned security staff to provide protection.
This Administration is exhibiting the same sort of naivete that the Bush Administration exhibited and was roundly criticized for in thinking that we would be viewed as “liberators” in Iraq and Afghanistan and flowers would be thrown at our feet. Or the clumsiness of Bremmer in disbanding the Iraqi security/police force before an adequate substitute had been stood up.
Hillary Clinton, our Secretary of State apologizes for a movie and feeds the narrative that a film no one has seen or heard of is the cause of this attack and conflagration. It is doubled down on by our Ambassador to the U. N., Susan Rice, who says there was “no actionable intelligence” to indicate that the attack was premeditated-the movie made them do it!
Then there is our own revered and respected Peggy Noonan, in an article entitled "The Age of the Would be Princips" who buys into the same theory that all this is the result of an effrontery to the Prophet Muhammad made in an obscure film:
Gavrilo Pricip of course was the assassin who killed the Archduke Franz Ferdinand...All we know is how it did begin, with one young man and a gun....Now in the age of technology, with everything disseminated everywhere instantly, it isn’t one man with a gun but one man with a camera, or a laptop, or a phone.
Pace, Peggy, but unfortunately, it’s not a “Pricip Moment” but a “Dragutin Moment.” Dragutin was the head of Serbian military intelligence who planned the assassination, which consisted of a six-man team. Serbia had gained their independence from the old Ottoman Empire and were outraged at the annexation of Bosnia by the Austro-Hungarian empire, to which the Archduke was the heir-apparent. Or maybe it’s a “Wilhelm II Moment”, ally of the Austro-Hungarians, whose German military (a Germany recently united, due to previous wars engineered by Bismarck) was itching for a war with Russia and their old enemy France. As the great historian Robert Conquest wrote, “The long-held ideas that World War I came about through accidental concatenations, or that it was due to commercial rivalries, has been abandoned by most historians, and it is now clear enough that the Kaiser’s regime was inherently headed for war.” Echoing this is historian Niall Ferguson, who wrote, “Historians nowadays have no difficulty tracing the origins of the First World War back a decade or more.”
The point is, the tender had been laid, the fuse carefully constructed and all that was required was the match of the assassination for the agitprop machinery to exploit.
Coming back to our present time, it is a much more likely scenario that Al Queda, now headed by Egyptian born Ayman al-Zawahiri, working with the various chapters of the organization spread throughout the Maghreb, engineered both the protests in Egypt and the attack in Libya which killed Ambassador Stevens and three others. Who knows? It could be a collaborative effort with the Muslim Brotherhood. After all, they both have the same goal, albeit on a different time frame.
It’s obvious we’ve lost much influence in the area. All you have to do is look at the first foreign trip made by the newly elected President Morsi to that great bastion of freedom, China, to know how little respect we have in Egypt. In addition to the financial commitments made to Egypt, China has been busy doing similar deals in Pakistan, Iraq, and many African nations. In addition to securing mineral and energy rights, China surely has its eye on gaining control of the Suez Canal, just as it managed to end up controlling the Panama Canal in our own hemisphere.
We know Al Queda is patient and thinks long term. We need to be analyzing the events of the past 10 years. We were so hung up on the “legitimacy” issue in Iraq that instead of declaring victory, installing someone and getting the hell out, we now have the spectacle of Iran looking to be the big winner there. Wasn’t that the objection to Chalabi? That he was too close to Iran?
And what of Afghanistan? Shortly after Obama’s inauguration, I met a female MP from Afghanistan. She told me how the Taliban had killed her father and brothers and she wanted to know if the U. S. was going to abandon them. I replied, “In my opinion, all bets are off and if I were you, I’d invest in asymmetrical warfare capability.” Today, we have announced our date of departure and are negotiating with the “moderate” Taliban. I’ve wondered how that MP is fairing.
Before we toppled Saddam, I was at a party of Military Attaches in a European capital and two of the Egyptian Officers told me they didn’t have a problem with Saddam and asked why we wanted to upend the apple cart, so to speak. In Muslim Brotherhood-led Egypt, with a sidelined military, I wonder how they are faring. We took out the despots and -- just like in Pakistan where we insisted on elections too soon, resulting in the assassination of moderate Benazir Bhutto -- the radicals are in charge.
Uwe Siemon-Netto, prominent German journalist and friend reported how the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong won the “hearts and minds” of the rural population ....
"Dangling from the trees and poles in the village square were the village chief, his wife, and their twelve children, the males, including a baby, with their genitals cut off and stuffed into their mouths, the females with their breasts cut off." The Vietcong had ordered everyone in the village to witness the execution. "They started with the baby and then slowly worked their way up to the elder children, to the wife, and finally to the chief himself. ... It was all done very coolly, as much an act of war as firing an anti-aircraft gun." He noted that this was no isolated case: "It became routine .... Because it became routine to us, we didn't report it over and over again. We reported the unusual, like My Lai."
For all we know, some of this may be involved in the stories of Libyans directing the terrorists to our Ambassador and his team, or our soldiers being fired on by Afghan soldiers. We don’t know, but we do know that we will always be outclassed in this department. If I’m some villager and the U. S. is offering me schools, with a bug-out date in sight, and the enemy is offering me torture and death if I cooperate, I know who’s going to own my heart and mind. In the future, unless we are willing to commit to a 50-year project, like we did in Japan and Germany in the wake of World War II, we should do like the French, make “mou-mou” sympathetic mutterings about human rights and cut a business deal with whoever is in power in these third world countries and don’t even think about regime change or democracy projects.
Everyone talks of the American Century being over, and of the nation being in its waning days. That may be, but for the moment we are still a great power, both economically and militarily. We have peoples and assets to protect. Although it won’t be pleasant, we need to take a hard look in the direction the evidence leads in order to formulate a steady, consistent foreign policy to guide our nation through this perilous time in history. To think we must avoid free speech that might disturb the little darlings is naive and dangerous, because the outrage machinery won’t stop there.