Posts Tagged ‘Libya’

Benghazi and Blowback

Posted on October 16, 2012 at 7.31 pm

Q. Hey what are your thoughts on Hillary Clinton in general plus on her taking blame for the consulate attack in Libya. Which I understand is blow-back. — scottmurray, from tumblr.

A. Let’s start with Clinton in general: I disagree with most of her policies, thought the Texts from Hillary blog was funny, and do think it’s ridiculous how the media so often talks about her hair/clothes/appearance rather than her positions. In short, I’m not a fan, but let’s lay off on the “ZOMG she’s wearing scrunchies again.”

Now, the taking the blame thing: The key parts of her statement, as I see it, are these:

I take responsibility. I’m in charge of the State Department’s 60,000-plus people all over the world, 275 posts. The president and the vice president wouldn’t be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals.


We can’t retreat. We have to continue to lead. We have to be engaged. We can’t hang out behind walls.

The full text of the statement is, to my knowledge, in this article.

Now, obviously there’s an election on and some of this is about taking the blame off the President. That doesn’t really bother me — it’s a campaign strategy, so whatever. I don’t see that as the main issue at all.

And I do appreciate the concept of publicly taking responsibility.

But — and this is a really big but — I don’t think she’s actually acknowledging blowback at all. At most she’s taking responsibility for intelligence info not being processed efficiently enough to stop the attack. This is not an acknowledgement of any policy failure of the U.S.; this is a glorified version of “we didn’t sort our spreadsheets fast enough.”

Even more tellingly, she ended the statement by vowing to continue to be “engaged,” to not “retreat” — in other words, to keep on keeping on with the exact same aggressive, interventionist policies which provoked this attack.

In short, Clinton’s statement doesn’t even come close to taking responsibility for the root cause of this tragedy — our illegal, unaffordable, and frequently immoral foreign policy.

And the announcement yesterday that the Obama administration is sending drones to strike in Libya (we all know how super effective and not at all likely to kill absurd amounts of innocent civilians using barbaric strategies those are [eye roll]) indicates that she and her compatriots are unlikely to do so any time soon.

A short and incomplete summary of why our foreign policy cannot continue as it has for the last decade.

Posted on December 21, 2011 at 6.32 pm

As is now (hopefully) increasingly common knowledge, our numerous occupations in the Middle East and Africa were not sparked by those countries attacking us.  Rather, with the possible exception of the War in Afghanistan — which has lasted an outrageously long time with huge costs of both blood and treasure, our 5+ wars are unwarranted wars of aggression rendered unconstitutional by their lack of official declaration by the Congress and unaffordable by our $15 trillion national debt.

The CIA estimates there are fewer than 100 members of al Qaeda left in Afghanistan, and yet we linger with tens of thousands of troops and hundreds of billions of dollars spent.  Recall also that many of the people we’re fighting there we were training just a few decades years ago, possibly including even bin Laden himself.

We’re finally pulling out of Iraq, left unstable and arguably more dangerous than we found it — not to mention the hundreds of thousands of excess civilian deaths our intervention has caused there.

In Libya, we’re not really sure who we supported or if the new government will even be friendly to us.  Many of the rebels we helped are backed by al Qaeda, our enemies just a few countries away.

In Pakistan, our drone operations are permitted to kill 50 civilians — including women and children — for every one terrorist they get, and no one is required to report to the public who is killed.

In Somalia, we’re engaging in covert operations in a dangerous and morally dubious situation which is none of our business and stretches our military — already posted in 900 bases in more than 130 nations around the world — almost thinner than it can stand.

Now, one might argue that it’s somehow OK for the U.S. to engage in this kind of global military expansion, because we’re the good guys, right?  But, as I’ve shown, in many cases we haven’t the foggiest clue who the good guys are, and often end up doing more harm than good to our own defense in the long term.  Perhaps more importantly, how would we like it if we were on the other end of our clumsy, bloody, and expensive foreign policy?  A little consideration of the golden rule might go a long way.

Peace Is Still the Normal

Posted on November 6, 2011 at 3.59 pm

As we headed to war in the aftermath of September 11, I remember wondering how long the wars would last and when we would return to peace — to “normal.”

In my defense, I was very young at the time.

I offer a defense because arguably peace has never been the normal for the United States.  Depending on one’s opinion of how large a military conflict must be to properly call it a war — and whether or not smaller conflicts can still be considered a breach of the peace — peace has basically never happened since 1776.  Even if we only look at the larger conflicts which nearly everyone would accept as “wars” in a strict sense, it’s only in the latter half of the 19th century that we find more than two decades — a generation — of peace.

The Pax Americana is, to put it mildly, a bit of a misnomer.  Peace has never really been the norm in the United States.

Nonetheless, the easy acceptance of multiple, small, overlapping wars strikes me as something new.  Perhaps this is my youth talking again, but bear with me:

The long saga of invasion in Iraq is finally over — or at least has morphed into a low-profile, largely privatized new phase of nation-building.  In the real world, of course, the American empire is still very much involved in Iraq, but in the mind of the average citizen with more immediate things on their minds, this is one war we can check off the list.  Mission belatedly accomplished.

In Afghanistan, too, we’re told that American military combat will be coming to an end sooner than expected — the original deadline being set all the way in December 2014.  This may never actually occur, but the recent media buzz around the subject may certainly serve to allay some uninformed fears about an overly long engagement in Obama’s pet war.

In Libya, too, NATO has achieved “victory” — albeit victory which in no way precludes ongoing U.S. intervention.