No Decency of Candor
Reading some political obituaries these days is a little like watching someone die twice -- a kind of tombstone ricochet. The Christopher Stevens obit that appeared in the 12 September 2012 edition of the Washington Post is an example. Anne Gearan's take is more about mythologizing a failed foreign policy than it is about an ambassador's life. Hard to believe that facts would be spun in a death notice -- and yet, Ms. Gearan's take on the deceased gives a whole new dimension to metaphors like "spinning in the grave."
Start with the headline, which reads: "US ambassador to Libya dies at age 52." If you read only the bold print you might believe that Mr. Stevens died from a bad oyster or Foggy Bottom flu. In fact, the American representative was killed by Arab terrorists. "Murdered" would be a more accurate word. People "die" from natural causes, like old age or disease. Getting killed by religious cowards is another variety of death altogether -- different enough to deserve the decency of candor.
And yes, the more you read, the worse the spin and apologetics become. First comes the tale of the Stevens' welcome to Benghazi by a rainbow coalition of infidel-lovers.
"When he and his American colleagues reached the rebel-held city, they were greeted by a group of Libyans carrying U.S., British, French and Qatari flags in the courthouse square."
Such images are an obscene echo of the Tripoli welcome received by the Gaddafi-era terrorist, Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, just one of the culprits in the Pan Am 103 massacre. Recall that Mr. Megrahi was pardoned by the United Kingdom. Now, that tragedy is mocked by an American president who claims the Benghazi Islamists will be brought to justice. How about those Libyan jihadists who killed 259 Americans over Scotland? Is there a statute of limitations that excuses Gaddafi-era slaughter? Or will NATO be content with a little more oil and gas?
Ambassador Stevens was killed by the same variety of Libyan religious thugs who beat Moammar Gaddafi to death. Street justice in Tripoli or Benghazi...what's the difference? A summary execution is summary execution. Allahu, allahu akbar!
Ms. Gearan goes on to speculate that Stevens probably died of "smoke inhalation," suggesting again that Stevens was collateral damage instead of yet another terror target. Photo evidence puts the lie to such nonsense. In one LA Times cover shot, the ambassador, with blood smeared and gashed head, is being pulled along by the armpits; in another image, he is slung over someone's shoulder like a sack of loot. Ms. Gearan's spin may have been a transparent attempt to mimic early State Department damage control.
Alas, Mrs. Bill Clinton was the early apologist. The State talking points had three chestnuts: the deed was done by a random mob, the motive was a film clip that no one saw, and some enlightened Benghazi citizens tried to save Stevens. Between apologies to Muslims worldwide, Mrs. Clinton even rhapsodized about Stevens as the savior of Benghazi. If Stevens had so many Benghazi friends, if Stevens helped bring democracy to Libya, why is he dead? And how is it that Islamist mobs and militias still roam and rule on the "democratic" streets of Libya?
If you read between the lines, Ms. Gearan raises another question unanswered by Mrs. Clinton. Was Stevens brutalized because he was an American diplomat -- or because he was gay? Or, as a gay American diplomat, was Stevens just vulnerable, or burdened, with triple-jeopardy by any posting to any Arab country? (Before the air gets thick with cries of bias, it should be noted that Stevens was "outed" by friends and a former roommate.) God forbid that Mrs. Clinton might have used her bully pulpit to condemn brutal and murderous homophobia in the Muslim world!
In spite of what we have heard from the president, the secretary of state, or the Washington Post, the death of Christopher Stevens was not a national tragedy, a death for a noble cause. Indeed, too much of the Muslim world lacks nobility, pride, or honor these days. The real tragedy of Ambassador Stevens is that he died in vain. There is little that is noble about Libya's recent past or promising about its likely future.
The Arab quislings, who tolerated Moammar Gaddafi for 40 years and celebrated attendant atrocities like the massacre of several hundred Americans over Lockerbie, are not the material from which civil democracies are made . Sadly, in the West, in a few months, Stevens will be just another statistic in what seems to be an unending line of forgotten gravestones. The logic of futility is apathy.
Numbers tell that tale. Nearly 3,000 Americans died in the 9/11 suicide attacks; 5,000 were killed in Iraq; 3,000 more were sacrificed in Afghanistan; and now a few more were incinerated in Benghazi. The global picture is apathetic, too: "Sunni Muslim terrorists committed about 70 percent of the 12,533 terrorist murders in the world last year (2011)," according to a report by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).
Shia kills lag far behind the Sunni totals. However, with nuclear weapons, Persians may be well-equipped to match their Sunni co-religionists in the near future. If the ayatollahs are to be believed, catch-up begins with Israel.
Non-government sources report 150,000 dead and maimed by terror since 9/11. If modern terror and religion are unrelated, how is it that the State Department and the NCTC categorize, and report, terror casualties by Muslim religious sect?
And how much is enough for America? How long does the democratic West celebrate and rationalize an "Arab Spring" which might more appropriately be called another Muslim Winter -- or as one observer put it, "a humanitarian disaster"? Samuel Huntington was an optimist. Culture "clash" doesn't quite capture the masochism in moral equivalence today or the likely fate of Western culture tomorrow.
G. Murphy Donovan writes frequently about politics and national security.