Another Missed Opportunity on Benghazi
Here is my latest on what US politicians and statesmen should actually be saying and thinking about Libya rather than engaging in the blame game over the Ambassador’s death. I warn against the dangers of the US securitizing its bilateral relationship with Libya and instead call for Congress to double down on capacity building assistance and committing itself to helping the Libyan government consolidate its authority.
Yet again the Obama Administration has missed an opportunity to turn a crisis into a sincere reassessment of the unsustainability of America’s current policies. And I’m not talking about the president’s compromises to avert the fiscal cliff, but rather his December 30 statement about the Benghazi attack.Given the state of (mis-)understanding of Libyan realities on the Hill, it is unsurprising that Congress seeks to treat the new Libyan government as untrustworthy partners and therefore seek to securitize our bilateral relationship. This is exactly the wrong policy. It certainly would not have prevented fifty jihadists armed with rocket launchers from incinerating the Special Mission in Benghazi.
After reflection on the facts, the incoming secretary of State should reject this Beltway consensus and instead empower our diplomats to open training facilities, hospitals, and American cultural centers – as Ambassador Stevens was in Benghazi to do.Therefore, rather than engaging in the blame game and securitizing our relationship with Libya, Congress should unveil a package of targeted capacity-building assistance. We share many objectives and values with the Libyan people and their current leadership. Helping them build their country and construct functional institutions is a far better investment for our scarce resources than any state-of-the-art fortified compound.