Notes From the Margins…

Black Holes in Benghazi

  • May 16, 2013
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Far be it from me to defend Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton, but the Republican attempt to embroil the Obama administration in a ‘cover-up’ over the killing of four Americans, including the US ambassador, in Benghazi last September says a great deal about the intellectual and moral vortex into which American politics has descended.

Obama has just released 100 e-mails containing ‘talking points’ with the administration in the aftermath of last year’s attacks, in order to refute Republican accusations of a cover-up.    According to the Republican narrative,   the administration claimed that last year’s attack was an ad hoc protest against the Islamophobic ‘Innocence of Muslims’ video,   rather than the work of  a terrorist organization.   Republicans also allege that the White House had been warned of a possible attack and did not take action, and then concealed the fact in order to deflect criticisms that might have affected Obama’s election chances.

These allegations take it for granted that the administration knew who was responsible, and the Republicans are clearly determined to use Benghazi, just as they once used Monica Lewinsky’s dress and the Starr Inquiry, to compensate for the fact they have currently made themselves unelectable.

Leading Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner and Karl Rove are using the Benghazi ‘cover-up’ not just to attack Obama and US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, but also to discredit Hilary Clinton, in what appears to be a pre-emptive move to disrupt her presidential chances, should she choose to run in the next election.

The result is a carnival of lies, stupidity and bad faith.   Dick Cheney has accused Obama and Clinton of ignoring “repeated warnings from the CIA about the threat. They ignored messages from their own people on the ground that they needed more security.”

Given the warnings that the Bush administration once ignored in 2001, it takes some gall for Cheney to suggest that Obama should have scrambled fighter jets or unleashed special forces in response to the Benghazi attack, because ” In my past experience when we got into these situations, especially after 9/11, we were always on the step, locked and loaded, ready to go on 9/11.”

Elsewhere there was Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post,  accusing Obama of playing down the significance of the Benghazi attack, by supposedly designating the attack as an “act of terror” rather than an “act of terrorism”.  And John Bolton, the neocon caveman with the walrus moustache, telling Newsmax   – a webzine that makes Fox News look like The Guardian that

“The failure of the administration eight months after the attack either to retaliate, to avenge the killing, to exact retribution, to make it clear to the terrorists you can’t do this and get away with it, is much more serious….It tells terrorists, you can attack Americans with impunity, and that’s very dangerous.”

Who would Bolton like to ‘retaliate’ against, given that the people who attacked the Benghazi embassy were allies of the United States during the overthrow of Gaddafi?     The Great Avenger doesn’t say.

There is clearly not much point in bombing Libya – been there, done that.     Or Mali –   the French have it covered.     At least Israel is bombing Syria – something that will undoubtedly warm Bolton’s heart.     And in Bolton-land, it’s almost certain that Iran had something to do with Benghazi, even if it didn’t.

Nowhere in this scandal-in-a-teacup, is there the slightest acknowledgement either by the Democrats or the Republicans that what took place in Benghazi is a direct consequence of a fraudulent ‘humanitarian’ intervention to ‘prevent a massacre’ (in Benghazi) and overthrow a dictator that has ripped to pieces yet another Arab society – while simultaneously opening new spaces for al-Qaeda-like Salafist formations to spring up from the wreckage.

There is a debate to be had there, which could also address the question of why the same process is being repeated in Syria.     But these aren’t debates that either the Democrats or the Republicans are interested in having, because all the latter really want to do is ditch Obama and they don’t care what it takes.

And their efforts are already bearing fruit, according to a Public Polling Policy poll which found that 55 percent of ‘very conservative’ respondents and 41 percent of Republicans believe that Benghazi is the “biggest political scandal in American history”.

Which only proves that conservatives know nothing about American history, and that the Republican party has become a black hole in which  truth, rationality and honesty have vanished – never to be seen again.

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About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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