The Enemy Doesn't Coordinate With Your Narrative

The Select Committee on Benghazi has reconstructed what happened on the night of September 11, 2012. They depict a situation in which the administration was surprised by the attack on the Benghazi consulate, completely bereft of forces with which to respond, and groping for a narrative in the immediate aftermath.

The most noteworthy aspects of the report were that president Obama ordered reinforcements sent as soon as it became clear the consulate was under attack.  While he did not, as some have argued, deliberately withhold succor to the embassy, he might as well have done so, for the cupboard was bare. Owing to a failure to anticipate the threat and a general condition of unreadiness prevailing in the region, no help could be sent for 8 hours, long after the last Americans had been killed. Ironically, the surviving Americans were ultimately evacuated by "former Qadhafi loyalists who the U.S. had helped remove from power during the Libyan revolution."

The men of Benghazi were not, in the official sense, left to twist in the wind. Yet that was the effect. United States forces were simply unable to mount a response and they were, to all practical purposes, alone.  The report outlines a veritable compendium of failure. Some might even call it an indictment of the nation's military posture.  The reluctance to explore it is easy to understand.  It was a rock that nobody in the administration wanted to look under.

“Our committee’s insistence on additional information about the military’s response to the Benghazi attacks was met with strong opposition from the Defense Department, and now we know why. Instead of attempting to hide deficiencies in our posture and performance, it’s my hope our report will help ensure we fix what went wrong so that a tragedy like this never happens again.”

It was especially inconvenient since Obama was running in 2012 on the claim that Islamic extremism was a beaten force.  On the day after the attack, perhaps to salvage that narrative, the administration made attempts to portray the attacks as mob action resulting from an inflammatory video, despite the fact that they knew better.

They were able in this instance to shelter in their own murk. Because the after-action intelligence assessments were no clearer and as clueless as those which failed to predict the attack in the first place, the administration could cite its own confusion the way a squid can hide in its own ink. They could cite their own confusion as the origin for the deceptive story Susan Rice eventually peddled to the nation.

Basically, the Benghazi consulate was overrun because the administration had established an embassy beyond the wire and outside the artillery fan. They had deceived themselves into thinking it was tenable. They entrusted its defense to unreliable militias. When it was attacked, they had no forces within practical range of relief. To explain the resulting disaster, they peddled a fairy tale which even they did not believe.  It was all wishful thinking from beginning to end and beyond. We are now in that beyond.