The awful tragedy of Benghazi must remain at the forefront of national discussion until the families of the victims in particular and the American people in general receive adequate answers to what happened in this affair and who is responsible for the failure to act on Ambassador Stevens’ and his team’s behalf which led to four ignoble deaths at the hands of Islamic terrorists. At a time in our not-too-distant past, America was a nation where the motto “Leave no one behind” was the bulwark of our security policy for our diplomats and military personnel who put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of our country. Because Ambassador Stevens and his cohort were left behind on the ground in the volatile Benghazi outpost to become martyrs for America’s current Middle East policy, it appears that the old motto no longer holds true. We therefore owe it to these dead Americans to fight to expose the truth of this debacle; it is incumbent on our nation not to leave their memory behind.
When Greg Hicks asserted in his testimony before Congress (see http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57583014/diplomat-u.s-special-forces-told-you-cant-go-to-benghazi-during-attacks/) that U.S. Special Operations Command Africa held back a Special Forces unit in Tripoli from responding to Ambassador Stevens’ call for help in the midst of the terrorist attack, he raised serious doubt that the Obama Administration actually cares in any significant way about the well-being of Americans serving in harm’s way. If this assertion is true, it is very instructive about the heart and mind of our current administration, showing stark re-orientation of values in this domain which has been historically shared by both Democratic and Republican administrations.
The closest modern analog to the Obama administration is quite clearly that of the 39th President, Jimmy Carter. Carter came to office in 1977 as an underdog, man of the people, believed to be a person who had more compassion and caring in his heart than did the nasty Republicans, particularly personified by the dastardly Richard Nixon, who had resigned in disgrace from the presidency just two years prior to Carter’s election. Like Obama, Carter believed in a big government, high tax domestic agenda and he held an excessively deferential attitude toward America’s enemies outside her borders. In June 1977, President Carter went so far as to imply in a commencement address at Notre Dame that America had been experiencing what he considered an “inordinate fear of communism” and that it was high time for our nation to stop being bedfellows with pro-American tyrants. In line with this thinking, it can be easily argued that Carter’s distancing of the US from supporting the Shah of Iran encouraged the uprisings that unseated him and ushered in the Islamic regime which rules the Persian people to this day. In the midst of that foreign policy decision, the Iranian hostage crisis emerged in November 1979.
Indeed the Shah was an unsavory ally who ruled iron-fistedly over Iran for a quarter century. But President Carter failed to understand that allowing for the Shah to be replaced by the Ayatollah Khomeini and an Islamic theocratic regime would create at best a destabilizing situation in the Middle East and at worst an international powder keg waiting to explode. In a similar manner, the Obama administration manhandled a rotten-to-the-core strongman, Muammar Qadafi, in Libya and allowed the vacuum of power to be filled by marauding bands of al Qaeda affiliates who would like to do to Libya as did the Iranian revolutionaries under the Ayatollah a generation ago–create an Islamic theocracy. Just as Carter’s naivete and weak posture encouraged the violent takeover of the American embassy in Teheran, leading to a hostage crisis that lasted over year, so President Obama’s fawning praise of Islam since the very beginning of his first term and his misunderstanding of the inaptly labeled Arab Spring movement spawned the jihadists who murderously assaulted the American compound in Benghazi on 9/11/12.
But the analogy between Carter and Obama ends at that point. Their respective responses to the Iranian Hostage Crisis and the Benghazi attack belie a fundamental difference in character of these two men, both of whom come from the left of the political spectrum. Their actions also demonstrate how some in our government no longer hold the belief that no American should be left behind when facing the enemy. If Americans would analyze Carter’s response to the hostage crisis and Obama’s response to Benghazi they would experience a wake-up call that today’s left is of a different nature from its forefather. The way Carter handled Iran and Obama handled (and continues to handle) Benghazi should alert everyone that indeed this is no longer our father’s Democratic Party.
On April 24, 1980, under President Carter’s direction, the US Armed Forces launched Operation Eagle Claw, which was a rescue plan intended to reach the American hostages in Teheran. Because of unusual weather conditions, the daring attempt to cross the Iranian desert in the pitch dark of night failed, resulting in eight fatalities of brave American servicemen. It was a humiliating disaster for the Carter administration, which had been agonizing at that point for six months about how to get the hostages out of Iran, whose new regime seemed to have no interest in dealing with President Carter. Carter went on national television the following night, and with clear distress in his facial expression and body language, reported on the failure of the attempted rescue, accepting full responsibility in the process. He also promised that further efforts at rescue would not be ruled out. In fact, history shows that another rescue mission would be planned, but never materialized as the practice exercises did not show sufficient promise to warrant a live attempt. In spite of his leftist worldview and his woeful leadership skills, at least President Carter believed that no American should be left behind when caught behind enemy lines and he tried to do something about it.
In stark contrast, in the midst of the Benghazi disaster, it is unclear exactly where President Obama was or what he was doing. Months after the event occurred, Mr. Obama has not explained what he as Commander in Chief of the US armed services was thinking of doing as a response to the attack. When we consider his public statements subsequent to the matter we have a schizophrenic description of responsibility. First the President alluded to “acts of terror” in a general sense in his 9/12/12 Rose Garden speech, then went on his “blame-the-YouTube-video” tour which culminated in his speech at the UN on 9/25/12 where he insisted that a “crude and disgusting” video incited alleged rioters in Benghazi who didn’t like “the prophet of Islam” being mocked online. Then in the second presidential debate in late October 2012, Mr. Obama got an assist from Candy Crowley, patting him on the back for calling the event a terror attack back on 9/12/12 when in fact he did not label it specifically as such. To this day, when asked about Benghazi, Mr. Obama does not indicate any sense of understanding of why it happened, what the investigation into the matter thus far has uncovered, or what we should do to bring the killers to justice. Further complicating the matter is that fact that we also lack a clear sense as to why Mr. Obama’s diplomatic and military department heads, former Secretaries Clinton and Panetta respectively, did not take any action to foment a rescue attempt on Ambassador Stevens’ behalf. As related to Benghazi, no one in the Obama administration has had the courage or humility of President Carter who woundedly acknowledged Operation Eagle Claw’s failure. This hubristic evasion of personal responsibility by America’s Chief Executive in the face of a horrible tragedy on foreign soil, costing four precious American lives, makes his predecessor, James Earl Carter, look downright Churchillian in comparison.
John Steinreich is a researcher, public speaker, and author of “The Words of God,” which is an analysis of the Bible and the Quran found online at www.lulu.com/spotlight/jdsbookstore.