Saturday, October 13, 2012

politicizing tragedy

I'm getting pretty disgusted with Republican efforts to make political gains as a result of the deaths of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya. That evidently is the new GOP strategy.

Their logic seems to be:  President Obama must be judged a failed president because: [1] the intelligence community changed its assessment as to whether the attack was premeditated by a terrorist group; [2] State Department security officials failed to field a large, well-armed force to defeat the attack which was launched; [3] those same officials denied a request to extend the tour of a military unit providing security for the embassy in Tripoli; and [4] somehow these actions by subordinate units of the U.S. government demonstrate the broader critique that America is less safe than four years ago, that the President is a failed leader, and that he apologizes for America.

It doesn't follow. What Benghazi showed was how chaotic Libya and much of the post-Arab spring world is. And that chaos is not, as Gov. Romney seems to argue, because the Obama administration failed to side with demonstrators earlier or because the struggle is between "democracy and despotism." Moreover, the answer is not a platoon of soldiers with tanks and helicopters accompanying every U.S. diplomat, but careful assessments balancing risks and diplomatic needs. Sec. Clinton made that point well yesterday. Right now, we have the ridiculous situation where officials can't do their jobs with tight security and thus face risks that can lead to tragedy. That's a dilemma, not proof of a failed presidency.

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