Benghazi And Beirut: The Cost Of Foreign Diplomacy - And Response (2)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

It never ceases to amaze me, when Republicans awaken from their deep slumber to worry about the welfare of this country.  The usual reason for their interruption of slumber, is the election of a Democrat President, or when the Democrats take control of either the House or Senate.  I say this, because take note on how the national debt, government spending, and U.S. personnel dying in combat have suddenly become an issue.  The terrible attack on our consulate at Benghazi is a perfect example of Republican cat napping through history.  

In 1983, the U.S. Marines were sent into Beirut, Lebanon, due to a civil war that was ongoing in that country.  Ronald Reagan was the U.S. President at that time.  The Marines were tasked with protecting the Beirut International Airport, which they did under less than perfect circumstances.  The Marines at Beirut were not allowed to return artillery, rocket, or mortar fire coming into the airport grounds, and these orders came straight from President Reagan.  They were told to be "peacekeepers" and not combatants.  A few months after they were deployed, a terrorists drove a truck filled with explosives into the compound, killing 242.  I served with Marines who were in Beirut during the explosion, and I have had lengthy conversations with them on this topic.

Benghazi is another instance of terrorism.  Benghazi was a "consulate" and not an "embassy," which anyone who has pulled embassy duty in the Marines, should know the difference.  The situation in Benghazi at the time of the attack was similar to Beirut.  There was social unrest, and an atmosphere of civil war in Benghazi leading up to the attack on our consulate.  Host countries are required by international law, to provide protection to foreign consulates and embassies.  Undoubtedly, the Libyan protection for Benghazi was lacking that day, although I question whether any amount of protection would have prevented loss of life in the attack.  Consulates are not afforded the same protection as embassies, and Ambassador Stevens was a "hands on" diplomat.  He often traveled with minimal security, and believed that security prevented him from being in the "thick" of things.   Too, lets not forget that in 2010-2012, the Republican Congress cut almost $500 million from the embassy/consulate security budget.   

The real story here is that the Republican Party refused to investigate the Beirut bombing.  Many of those Republicans at the time, stated openly that Marines were trained for "combat,"  and that it was just another event in a long history of attacks upon U.S. consulates.  During the George W. Bush era, there were 11 attacks on US embassies and consulates around the world, and hundreds of people were killed in these attacks.  Where was the Republican outcry then?  Where were the Republican combat and international law specialists then?  Where were the Lindsay Grahams' and Darryl Issa's' when the U.S. embassies were attacked under President Bush?  Where were they?  Sleep walking through history?  I received a post from Rep. Scott Desjarlais (R-Tn) the other day on Benghazi.  Where was Scott Desjarlais during the Beirut bombing?  I don't say this to insinuate Rep. Desjarlais doesn't care about the four people who died in Benghazi, but I ask this question to raise the issue of the lack of service by Rep. Desjarlais making it impossible for him to understand combat operations.  

The correct diagnosis is "amnesia."  These Republicans sure to have amnesia.  Watching them operate reminds me of the Rip Van Winkle story of the man who slept for many years while the world completely changed.  He didn't know where he was when he was awakened, and it seems that the Republicans don't know where they are.  They slept through the Bush Administration, and now they just don't understand what has happened.  Many thousands of Americans have died needlessly in the past 10 years over lies of "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq (not to mention Bush doubling the national debt, or doubling government spending during his tenure) while the majority of Republicans were "asleep."  It was a "wonder" the Saudi terrorists were able to complete their mission to take down the World Trade Center.  The success of their attack was not from executing a well planned operation, but from the complete and utter dereliction of duty by President George W. Bush and his ranking military officers.   

It's time the Republican Party stop playing politics with the lives of our men and women who are willingly putting their lives on the line to protect this country.  Playing politics with the spent lives of our diplomats and military members is a very low moral approach to "making things better."  If you don't understand the nature of the foreign service, you don't need to be in the foreign service.  If you don't understand that people get killed in war zones, you should not be pushing war so much.  If you push war, you should be first in volunteering for military service.  If you want to make a difference, join the Marines.  The Marines are still looking for a few good men and women, maybe you can be one.  

Stephen Durham

* * *

So Stephen, because mistakes have been made in the past, it's OK for this administration to ignore requests for additional security prior to the 9-11-2012 attacks? It's OK for them to try to cover up this deadly mistake by blaming a right wing zealot filmmaker in California who made a third-rate video?

I don't remember any of the instances you cite being ignored by the mainstream press for an extended period of time so as not to hurt the sitting president's chances at re-election. I don't remember an entire administration and State Department lying to the American people to save face.
The mistakes won't bring him down. The lies just might.

Mike Thompson
mikethompson@catt.com

 * * * 

In reading Stephen Durham's letter about the Beirut Barracks bombing in 1983 I am reminded of the old saying that, "everyone is entitled to their own opinion but no one is entitled to their own facts. 

Mr. Durham writes that the Republicans refused to investigate the Beirut Barracks bombing attack because a Republican was in the White House. The fact is that the Senate Armed Forces Committee under a Republican Chairman held a hearing that included Marine Corp Commander General Paul X. Kelley and the Commander of U.S. forces in Europe, General Bernard Rogers. General Rogers accepted responsibility for the attack saying, "I am responsible for anything that happens or fails to happen in my theater of responsibility." A far cry from Saint Hillary's response, "what difference does it make." 

There was also an exhaustive investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Defense Commission on the Beirut bombings. So  Mr. Durham, hate to confuse you with the facts, just because you don't remember something doesn't mean it didn't happen. 

Mr Durham also states the "Republican," Congress of 2010-2012 was responsible for budget cuts that that hindered our security in Benghazi. The fact is that during this time the Republicans controlled only the House while the Democrats controlled  the Senate under the inept leadership of Harry Reid.  

Sorry Mr. Durham , the Democrat talking points will not work on the Benghazi cover-up. As the noted NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote yesterday, "the Administration's behavior before and during the attack in Benghazi, in which four Americans died, was unworthy of the greatest power on earth." 

Douglas Jones
North Chattanooga.



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