The current and ongoing politicizing of the 9/11 attacks on the Benghazi consulate by the political right begs for a study in contrasts to previous incidents that trivializes the tragic aftermath in Libya.
On October 23rd, 1983 in Beirut, Lebanon terrorists killed 299 American and French servicemen with two truck bombs. 241 of the Americans who were killed included 220 marines, 18 sailors and 3 soldiers. The reaction of both Francois Mitterrand and Ronald Reagan provided an interesting study in contrast. The French who are constantly ridiculed by the American right in this country for their lack of military acumen and courage lost a total of 58 military personnel. Mitterrand’s reaction was swift and decisive as they launched an airstrike in Bekaa Valley against known Islamic Revolutionary Guard positions. Ronald Reagan’s reaction was slow and awkward: once Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger lobbied against retaliation none was taken.
All the marines were finally removed from Lebanon by February 7th, 1984 some four months later. Robert McFarland had only been national security advisor for six days. George Schultz was the Secretary of State. As the Democrats had control of the House of Representatives and the political will no hearings were called. Reagan appointed a special Defense Dept. commission to investigate and he eventually called out the military for a breakdown in command and a lack of preparation to meet the terrorist threat.
On January 26th, 2006 elections were held in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza. The radical Islamic group Hamas, designated as a terrorist organization by most western security organizations, had a sweeping victory taking control of the new Palestinian parliament. As the Bush State Department was caught off guard Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice was called to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Her response can be crystallized into the Bush refrain for their entire handling of the mid-east under their watch, “No one could have known this would happen.” Condoleezza Rice made a total of 34 trips to the mid east under her tenure at State and she testified she was clueless this could have happened. This is of course followed up by her categorizing the August 6th, 2001 PDB warning of Bin Laden’s intent to strike the U.S. as only an historical document, her record as National Security Advisor briefing Colin Powell for his infamous UN testimony leading to the Iraqi war, letting Bin Laden escape, the missing WMD’s in Iraq that was given as the reason for military action, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo and an ongoing list of jaw dropping policy failures than have never been investigated.
In the 2011 Obama administration’s budget request for world wide security that included American Embassies, consulates, foreign military installations, and all foreign offices the Tea Party wing of the Republican party refused and demanded the budget request be cut by $440 million dollars. In a closed hearing on Benghazi before the joint House/Senate Intelligence committee Rep. Gary Ackerman [D-NY] angrily called out the Republicans for chastising Susan Rice who was calling for more security measures but was being denied due to a lack of….wait for it…..funds. As she was called upon by the MSM to discuss the tragic deaths of four Americans on 9/11 in Benghazi she used approved State Dept. non-classified talking points to help clarify what took place. During the joint House/Senate Intelligence hearing Sen. John McCain was calling for a hearing on,….wait for it…..Benghazi.
Politicizing these deaths is standard operational procedure for the GOP since the epic policy failures of the Bush and Reagan administrations. One can only marvel at the intellectual white out needed to mount these criticisms on a daily basis. We can only hope that somewhere along the way the weight of incompetence will collapse their raison d’etre for being the party of “National Security.”