The Benghazi Pattern

By Robbin Laird

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared yesterday before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Not surprisingly, the Washington Post concluded that Clinton triumphed.

Hillary Rodham Clinton easily parried barbed Republican questioning Thursday about the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, emerging unscathed from a high-stakes congressional hearing with a smooth and sometimes poignant account of her role in the event that has loomed as among her largest political liabilities.

Of course, a number of questions remain which the testimony before the Committee compared to earlier testimony will resolve when it comes to determining whether or not the former Secretary perjured herself.

But missing from any consideration by the post is the core policy question: Did the approach followed by Obama and Clinton in Odyssey Dawn lead directly to Benghazi? And has the Administration’s approach to “fighting” the ISIS state led to Syria?

In other words, problems and challenges are always with us.

But when an action to deal with a challenge is framed and executed it has its own logic, and that logic has its own consequences.

There is a policy chain of custody which an event like Benghazi is part of; it is not an act of god.

But the key to failing to hold policy makers accountable is simply to connect no current problem to anything they did in the past.

Putin reinforces his stake in Syria and gets the bases he has coveted for some time because of his perception of what happened in Libya, Benghazi and how the President has run the air war.

There is no accident here.

If Hillary Clinton wants to be President we need a better answer to what she did as Secretary rather than crying before the Committee. I am sure she cared about those who died at some level; the point is why was the United States in the position for them to die in the first place?

Ed Timperlake highlighted the Clinton role in Libya and it is that role which needs to be put under scrutiny by the public as well.

The strategic strategy of trying to stay close to moderate Islam while guarding against and attacking fanatical Islam has been a constant American and European 21st Century work in progress. This work in progress has been a real fetish for President Obama and his administration. That is until Russian Prime Minister Putin perhaps channeling his inner KGP pulled no punches on critiquing Obama’s Libyan war:

 “The (UN) resolution is defective and flawed,” Putin told workers at a Russian ballistic missile factory. “It allows everything. It resembles medieval calls for crusades.”

 And so it goes, that at least according to Vladimir Putin the Obama Administration had just signed America up for a crusade. The irony is truly world class and one for the history books…..

 But wait there is more: the casus belli for President Obama’s Libyan war is that Gaddafi is an evil bad man who is committing genocide on his own people.  Nevertheless, for whatever stated purity of motive by the Obama Administration, the UN resolution is now being interpreted by the world as a crusade…..

 This is all great theater since the New York Times identified the three women in the Obama Administration who made it all possible:

 The change became possible, though, only after Mrs. Clinton joined Samantha Power, a senior aide at the National Security Council, and Susan Rice, Mr. Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, who had been pressing the case for military action, according to senior administration officials speaking only on condition of anonymity. Ms. Power is a former journalist and human rights advocate; Ms. Rice was an Africa adviser to President Clinton when the United States failed to intervene to stop the Rwanda genocide, which Mr. Clinton has called his biggest regret.

So if Gaddafi is bad and must go.  Soon perhaps America will be fortunate enough to have those “Three Amigos” draw up a list of other “El Guapo” countries that are deserving of the Obama Doctrine.  There is a plethora of countries that everyone can agree on that are whole lot worse than Libya.

 How about stopping the thugs in Sudan, or the Dear Leader of North Korea? Perhaps Syria for harboring terrorist organizations, or Iran (now there is a real problem) or Myanmar (Burma)? 

The President led from behind in Libya; the terrorists got the point and waited to kill Americans “on the ground” in the Benghazi attack on the US embassy.

The Administration did nothing palpable in response.

Then the lead from behind strategy appeared again in the fight against Isis with the US having more people in the Command Center than strikes conducted per day.

In contrast, Putin has shown up with a modest force but exponentially striking more targets per day.

And with another lead from behind moment, we can wait for the next Benghazi which, of course, will be an act of God unconnected in any way to what the Administration has done.

Of course, unleashing Iran is almost certainly a very large scale Benghazi.

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