The Real Lesson of Benghazi
The fantasies shaping the Washington establishment’s views on Islam do more than make bad policy. They also kill.
October 15, 2012 - 11:10 pm
About six months ago a State Department official contacted me privately and told me about State employees who had been assigned to study the life of Muhammad, with an eye toward putting together a positive portrayal of the prophet of Islam that would presumably win more Muslim hearts and minds by going out with the United States government’s seal of approval. The officials who began studying the earliest Muslim sources about Muhammad, however, were astonished as they came face-to-face not with a seventh-century Gandhi, but with a figure of war and rapine who appeared to justify the worst allegations of the “Islamophobes” that the Obama administration has so roundly excoriated. Needless to say, the puff piece on Muhammad did not appear.
This disconnect from reality was reminiscent of what is said about State during the Iranian Revolution: that while the Ayatollah Khomeini was bringing about the toppling of the shah and the establishment of the Islamic Republic, only one of his books could be found anywhere in the State Department, and no one had read it. No one thought the rantings of an obscure fanatic who for years had been exiled to far-off France were important.
This was the willful blindness that killed Chris Stevens, and is the real scandal of Benghazi. The politically correct fantasies that characterize the Washington establishment’s views on Islam and jihad not only make for bad policy; they also kill. Clearly what happened in Benghazi was part of a coordinated, carefully planned series of jihad attacks–in all the controversy over what the White House knew and didn’t know, it has also been forgotten that jihadis stormed the U.S. embassy in Cairo on the same day. That raises the question: What did the Muslim Brotherhood know, and when did it know it? And the related question: Why is the Obama administration continuing to cultivate warm relations (and shower money upon) the Morsi regime in Egypt, without undertaking even the most cursory investigation into the possibility of its involvement in those attacks?
From the beginning of the “Arab Spring,” I said repeatedly that it was not a democracy movement as the Western press and the White House were claiming, but an Islamic supremacist takeover that would result in the creation of Sharia states far more hostile to the U.S. and Israel than the Arab nationalist regimes they were supplanting. This assessment was greeted with the usual scorn, but Benghazi shows who was right and who was wrong and how desperately the foreign policy establishment in Washington needs a very thorough housecleaning.