Lost But Making Good Time
The Cable says that "the State Department is asking Congress for over half a billion dollars next year to help support countries struggling to emerge from the chaos of the Arab Spring - an effort that Congress failed to endorse the first time around." Perhaps the reference to "chaos" springs from a United Nations report that "Libyan weapons are spreading at 'an alarming rate' to new territory in west Africa and the eastern Mediterranean including Syria and the Gaza Strip where they are fueling conflicts and increasing the arsenals of armed groups and terrorists, a U.N. panel said."
Frankly Libya, Egypt and Syria, the flagships of the Arab Spring, have not exactly served as vessels bearing their inhabitants from the Gray Havens of despotism to the Undying Lands of Freedom. Instead they resemble so many Titanics bound straight for an iceberg.
Just which part of the "Arab Spring" does the administration intend to support? Is it the part that goes boom or the part that puts power in the hands of "moderate" Islamists so the inhabitants of the region can move to the 'broad, sunlit uplands'? The boom part is described by the Washington Post:
The [UN] panel said it also examined evidence of the delivery of weapons and ammunition from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to support the anti-Gadhafi revolutionaries during the uprising and considers that both countries violated the U.N. arms embargo, despite Qatar’s denial that it transferred any military materiel.
It cited a case of the transfer of ammunition to Libya involving the United Arab Emirates, Armenia, Albania and Ukraine, a separate case involving Sudan, and the reported transfer of a drone to the Libyan opposition by a Canadian company which Canadian authorities say is under investigation.
Lots of boom has been transferred into the region. In fact a casual observer might conclude that the chaos the State Department wants to control is very chaos they created in the first place.
The administration hasn't had much apparently luck putting things under "moderate" Islamist control in the aftermath. The BBC reports that a major player in the Syrian uprising has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda. Another day, another defection.
Where is the whole thing going?
Recently, the mother of one of the Americans who died in Benghazi made minor news appealing to Congress to find out what really happened that night in Libya. She had been promised the truth by the President himself. Since then she's gotten only a busy signal from their telephones.
Although her concern is a personal it raises a very serious issue, unresolved until now. Just what is the administration policy in the "Arab Spring"? Did the administration arm the Libyan rebels and was Ambassador Stevens killed by those very same rebels trying to contain the collateral damage? Did the administration even know who they were giving the weapons to? And was Stevens in fact killed by some of the very same weaponry the administration supplied in the first place?
I am the mother of Sean Smith, one of the four people murdered in Benghazi by terrorists along with ambassador Chris Stevens and ex-seals Ty Woods and Glen Daugherty. When I was in Wash. DC at the reception of the caskets, I asked for and received promises from Pres. Obama, Hillary Clinton, Leon Panetta, VP Biden and several other dignitaries in attendance. They all looked me directly in the eyes and promised they would find out and let me know. I got only one call from a clerk about a month later quoting from the time line, which I already had.
The significance of the Benghazi incident is that it brings into focus the question of what exactly the Administration is trying to achieve in North Africa, the Middle East and the Levant. What is the end state to which they are working? Who are they arming? What is the money for?
The press reports suggest that the Administration is working at cross purposes with itself. On the one hand it proclaims support the "Arab Spring" to bring democracy to the region. But the actual beneficiaries of its actions appear to be al-Qaeda and sundry other terror groups.
So far it's been bad news all around. Egypt has been pauperized. Lebanon is on the brink of Civil War. Syria is no closer to Democracy with millions of people caught up in a struggle between the dictator Assad and a rebellion some of whose participants have pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda. Another success like this and no one will need a disaster.
Will the real administration policy stand up? Is your name Dr. Jekyll or is it Mr. Hyde?
The administration has proclaimed the laudable goal of bringing freedom to the region. But all they've managed to accomplish is blow things up and set things on fire. Now they want more money to do whatever it is they are doing. But surely the question arises: what the heck are they doing?
That is the question they seem determined to avoid. That is apparently why the survivors of Benghazi have been shut away. Not to answer the question. There's the terrible possibility that the administration themselves don't know what they are trying to achieve. They're just churning out the noise and going through the motions full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. On the day after the Benghazi attack President Obama said in the Rose Garden:
No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.
That must rank as the greatest non-speech since Bluto defiantly proclaimed "was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no! ... And it ain't over now.... Now we could do it with conventional weapons that could take years and cost millions of lives. No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part. We're just the guys to do it."
You're just the guys to do it. But do what?