The murder of our ambassador to Libya (and other members of the State Department mission there) is an act of violence with no justification.

That Mr. Stevens was by all accounts a friend to the people of Libya, and the wider North African and Middle Eastern world, makes it all the more sad. That this was apparently the work of religious fanatics who worship a god with the fragile ego of a fawned-over starlet makes it all the more infuriating. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

That partisans in our country would argue that this constitutes an indictment of Mr. Obama's policy in Libya is--confusing. Or at least, it is not immediately clear to me what their preferred course of action would have been. There really are only a few options, so let's examine them.

1. We should have intervened on the side of M. Qadaffi. I look forward to hearing this argument advanced. Really, I do.

2. We should have simply taken over Libya. We should have intervened to help overthrow Qadaffi, then commenced a long-term occupation to nation-build and wipe out the various (and predictable) Islamist insurgencies that would arise--including the ones to whom we had just rendered assistance. The precedents here are, in a word, problematic.

3. We should have stayed out of Libya completely. If this is what you think, may I be the first to welcome you into the non-interventionist camp! We sure could have used your help 10 years ago or so, but I guess later is better than never. I'm sure you seeing the light has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that there is a Democrat in the White House.

(Lest you think I am engaging in revisionist history, here, Libya is probably the subject on which I've levied the most criticism against Mr. Obama, for example: here, here, here, and an excellent guest post here.)


Mr. D said...

I don't know the right answer, Brian. What I do know is this -- Obama will have to respond to this, because if he doesn't it will be repeated elsewhere.

At a minimum, he really ought to kick out all the Libyan diplomats currently in the U.S. immediately. But I think he'll have to do something more than that. The evidence is mounting that the "movie" thing was a pretext and that this was a planned attack on the consulate. Killing an ambassador is an act of war. It doesn't mean you go to war, but it does mean that you don't play nice with the regime that, at best, enabled the killing of an ambassador.

As for Egypt, I'd say an immediate cutoff of military and other aid is in order.

Brian said...

On Egypt, you get no argument from me.

But what would expelling Libyan diplomats accomplish? I mean, if it turns out to have been someone alligned with the Libyan state, sure...but I don't think we have a reason to believe this is the case, do we?

Gino said...

from what little i have heard, this had nothing to do with the current(as it stands) libyan govt.

either way/what...
obama has shown no reserve when it comes to throwing inconvenient people under the bus (or the drone).

its an election year. i'm sure he will be droning left, right, backward and forward...
michelle, hide the girls...
nobody is safe now.

Mr. D said...

But what would expelling Libyan diplomats accomplish? I mean, if it turns out to have been someone alligned with the Libyan state, sure...but I don't think we have a reason to believe this is the case, do we?

Actually, we do. I heard on the news last night that the Libyan police forces in Benghazi were behaving in an unusual fashion in the days prior to the attack and may have been involved in providing information that helped the attackers pull it off. And I also heard that Obama sent two ships to the area, so expect something to happen sooner rather than later.

To Gino's point, this is an election year and the election is close. The one thing Obama cannot allow to happen is to have Jimmy Carter comparisons start up. So expect bellicosity.

And I also see this morning that the embassy in Yemen has been attacked.

RW said...

And any responsible Republican would be doing the same things in the same way in response to these provocations, because closing embassies and expelling diplomats is exactly what people like al Qaida want us to do. No rational person of any party (which obviously excludes most reactionary commentators) would respond to these attacks with draconian measures that will only dig a deeper hole.

Governor Romney has said what he said to help his election chances. If he were President he would be vocalizing a support for freedom of expression and condemning the attacks on our embassies, and that's probably it. Gee, just what President Obama is doing.

One wants to check the rhetoric coming from the Right. Their whole mantra comes down to "we'll do the same things, just better."

Brian said...

I think we need a bit more substantial evidence of state involvement than that to justify breaking off diplomatic relations. That is a HUGE step.

There is far more to lose by reacting too precipitously.

Frankly, I am very happy to have the president (and more importantly, his temperament) that we have.