Why Benghazi matters
Graham Miller, UVU student with Major in Political Science
Congressman Jason Chaffetz in his presentation on Benghazi had several objectives to portray and solidify in the minds of those who were present. I will discuss these points influenced by his opinion, then try and relate these to the terms and trends learned in the previous sections we have learned. Rep. Chaffetz approach on presenting was to provide a very simple outline of the events that occurred in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. He explores the ‘before’, ‘during’, and ‘after’, putting specific blame on the United States government for their lack of response to the situation which would result in 4 U.S. citizens being killed in the terrorist attack, which he believed could very easily been avoided.
Using the method of historical analysis Rep. Chaffetz explained the political climate of Benghazi, and why it was at it’s current state of being through specific events. For example the United States helped N.A.T.O. to clean up the area of Benghazi, Libya a few years prior to the event through a military operation that would grant them the space needed to build an “Embassy” there. However once this embassy was erected, it would prove to be the target to 2 different terrorist attacks before the most devastating in September of 2012. Of these two attacks Rep. Chaffetz mentioned the lack of security, personnel, and follow-up on these attacks that were given. In fact, there was none. Alarmingly enough, there were also 2 separate attacks inflicted upon the Ambassador of Britain to Libya, and the Red Cross office. The difference, however, is that those separate attacks were clear enough signs of the unsafe conditions that they left. The United States would stay right where they were which would lead us to the fateful attack early in the morning on September 11, 2012.
Rep. Chaffetz being slightly short on time, and wanting to send home the main point was unable to go into profound detail of the event itself. He was however very keen on mentioning a few very important points he believed could have saved these people. The fact that there were multiple military bases in the proximity of an hour or so, and the response of relief took more than the amount of time it would for us, here in Orem, Utah to arrive to Benghazi. Not to mention that the attack itself was very brutal and that the establishment itself did not meet up to previously set regulations by the United States. We see with this attack which was premeditated by the Al Qaeda, is a clear witness of the radical hatred towards the United States as well as Christians.
Rep. Chaffetz was also quite upset with the aftermath of this event and with those feelings comes his main point, to make this known to the public. He wants justice to be served. The Obama administration has reacted to this event by simply saying it was not their fault, and that it was a ‘hoax’. The congressman passionately described the amount of propaganda he feels the United States is selling its citizens on this subject and others. The climax of this whole event is interestingly the lack thereof. Simply nothing has been done, and currently it looks as if Rep. Chaffetz is one of few, if not the only seeking truth and justice to be done on this matter. In light of this event, presentation, and the knowledge learned previously in our chapters of International Relations its becoming very clear the advantages of utilizing the different methods at our disposal. With a historical point of view we can draw conclusions that this was, or could have been foreseen by the already well known terrorist attacks that have come from our presence in the Middle East. To look at this from a Behavioral point of view, there was also plenty of evidence given where specific events recorded protests of Americans even being in Libya. Thus we see that the techniques of International Relations could have played a role with the information which was given, had an acceptance by those in power, acted.
Personally, having been able to attend a presentation dealing directly with International Relations has opened my eyes to how we truly can foresee events by looking in the past, by looking at the cultural climate, and of course by watching the daily unfolding of events in a specific area. Also with how a Democracy in its modern day and age almost never is in accord with itself, causing these sorts of problems to take a longer amount of time to be acted upon and resolved. My hope is that through continued study of current events, application of methods used in current International Relations class, I may one day be able to come to a position where I can help avoid a future problem, thanks to the tools and knowledge I’ve obtained through these studies.
An All Too Common Problem
Matthew Rand, UVU student with Major in Political Science
When is a government bureaucracy too large and complex to handle simple tasks without a strenuous strain on resources and assets? This type of question would be one of many republican policy makers in the aftermath of the 2012 Benghazi tragedy. When U.S. government agencies start to believe their work takes precedence over those of their co-workers, they undermine the precious lines of communication within the government. Such lack of communication during precursors to the attack such as threats, a bombing at the consulate, and assassination attempts; so strong was the evidence of a danger, that it was failed to be prevented. These are just a few in over 300 documented security incidences. I am not bashing on any methods our government may use but in the words of Congressman Chaffetz in his recent visit to UVU, “Self Criticism is good for the nation.”
After the revolution and the fall of Gaddafi, Libya was ruled by militias. Not one militia but many. They consisted of non-centralized, local bands of everyday citizens taking up arms against the regime. This lack of central leadership would make perfect conditions for every militia to form its own agenda. Most may be secular but there is always room for extremists that claim they fight for Islam. Whether way some may say extremist groups were involved or not, the evidence of threats has been there the whole time. The first such occasion is a threat against Christopher Stevens. He enjoyed a morning run outside the embassy compound. Somebody seemed to take notice when his daily running route; publishing it on Facebook with a threat against him, but no extra security measures were taken.
The second incident occurred in April 2012, when a lone man detonated a bomb in the wall of the consulate compound. The damage was done and even though he was caught on camera, still no extra security was added other than local guards with Walkie-talkies. This was during a time when Clinton wanted to “normalize” foreign security by reducing U.S. troop presence and keeping a low profile with local security forces. Still after military advice from leaders such as LTC Andrew Wood to add more security, the agenda of the state department was placed before the security of its personnel.
The third instance came in June when an assignation attempt on the British ambassador in the form of a car bomb. That was the final push for the U.K. government, U.N., and Red Cross. They all pulled out of Libya as violence increased. Suggestions were made over and over again to the state department for the U.S. to withdraw, but the ultimate decision was made to stay.
The only time when one U.S. government agency not listening to another actually worked was during the attack; When U.S. Navy Seals near the site responded to help fend off attackers. They do not respond to the State department but which freed them from any state protocol for defending.
We can see that the lack of communication can inhibit tragedy prevention but the real problem comes today as fingers are being pointed of whom is at fault and contradicting broadcasts of a “planned” vs “spontaneous attack.” And If the U.S. wants to make better foreign relations then they need to form stronger relations within themselves between agencies.