Perhaps it isn’t trying because it knows the Libyan government is not eager or not able to confront the terrorists. And because the U.S. government does not want to take direct action, since that would presumably be “bullying” and “unilateral”:
“The [Libyan] government lost a very good opportunity after our ‘Rescue Benghazi’ event to control these militias, break them apart and absorb them into legitimate bodies,” Younes Najim, an organizer of the campaign to push Ansar al-Sharia out.
“It will take time, but the longer the government takes to organize its security here, the stronger some groups will make themselves to become parallel forces to the government.”
Right. But why didn’t the U.S. government follow up on the momentum built by the Rescue Benghazi (that is, the “force the terrorists to leave”) movement? As for the Libyan government, it cannot and will not control them for a very good reason. The government is relatively weak — especially in Benghazi — and its “regular” military forces are made up of ex-militiamen who might be very sympathetic to Ansar al-Sharia.
In other words, the U.S. government has given weapons and money and diplomatic support to create and sustain a regime which may be made up of relatively decent people, but cannot lift a finger to catch, punish, or outlaw al-Qaeda supporters and those who have murdered Americans in cold blood.
Again, remember this is not a hostile country which provides a safe haven to anti-American terrorists, like Iran or Lebanon do, but a U.S. client state established largely with U.S. military aid and direct assistance.
The killers are not hiding out in caves, but are strolling the streets of a supposed U.S. ally.
Today, Libya; tomorrow, Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria, not necessarily in terms of al-Qaeda itself (except in Syria) but in terms of anti-American Islamist groups that are quite willing to attack U.S. targets in the Middle East.
Here’s what Obama said in his State of the Union message (which didn’t mention his alleged pursuit of the Benghazi terrorists):
Today, the organization that attacked us on 9/11 is a shadow of its former self. Different al-Qaeda affiliates and extremist groups have emerged — from the Arabian Peninsula to Africa. The threat these groups pose is evolving.
In other words, al-Qaeda is weakened to the point of collapse. It isn’t.
But to meet this threat, we don’t need to send tens of thousands of our sons and daughters abroad, or occupy other nations. Instead, we will need to help countries like Yemen, Libya, and Somalia provide for their own security. … And, where necessary, through a range of capabilities, we will continue to take direct action against those terrorists who pose the gravest threat to Americans.
That is a perfect model of what should be done: cooperation with American allies when possible; direct action when necessary.
But that hasn’t happened.
The allies are too weak or are even in bed with the terrorists themselves. The “ally” that the U.S. government is depending on to take care of the terrorists for it is … the Muslim Brotherhood. Incidentally, the Libyan government is also the biggest single financial donor — presumably with behind-the-scenes U.S. encouragement, or even pressure — to the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated group in Syria.
That’s why Obama didn’t mention Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, or Syria in his speech about counterterrorism. CIA director John Brennan is directing such a policy, but it isn’t good to say that publicly, and especially not in front of a joint session of Congress.
And elsewhere — here’s where Yemen, Libya, and Somalia come in — regimes cannot provide for their own security. To reframe the issue: what if they can only provide for their own security by ignoring or even undermining U.S. interests?
Yes, it’s much easier to throw some California filmmaker into prison.
The night of September 11, 2012, was the perfect time to “continue to take direct action against those terrorists.” Instead, Obama went to sleep; he has yet to wake up. There is graphic proof for that assertion in the streets of Benghazi today.
PS: A very angry reader wrote me to ask why didn’t I denounce President Ronald Reagan for not getting those responsible for the 1982 attack on the Marine barracks. As I tried to make clear, it is different to get terrorists hiding in a hostile to America area under the protection of governments (Syria and Iran) with tens of thousands of hostile, heavily armed soldiers which in turn were under the protection of the Soviet Union and going after terrorists sitting openly in a place whose government is a U.S. client, installed by the United States, and open to its penetration. I also have met U.S. soldiers involved in covert operations who went into those areas on missions to get those responsible, albeit without ultimate success, and heard the obstacles they faced, starting with locating the terrorists. No, it isn’t the same situation.