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Remain Focused on Benghazi

11:30 AM, Nov 14, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Paul Wolfowitz writes

[F]ascination with the general’s personal story must not divert attention from the very significant policy failures that helped produce a chaotic security situation in Libya. Petraeus was not principally responsible for those mistakes, nor for similar mistakes that continue in Syria, nor for the misleading suggestion that killing Bin Laden had dealt a fatal blow to Al Qaeda.

Congress should stay focused on the policy mistakes leading up to the Benghazi attack, the question of the commander-in-chief’s role the night of the attack, and the misleading claims afterwards that this terrorist attack was a response to an anti-Muslim video. In chronological order:

  1. Why did the US leave the principal responsibility for arming the anti-Qaddafi forces in Libya to countries which favored Islamist militias, so that many of the most powerful armed groups in Libya today are Islamist – and even Salafist – despite the fact that the Libyan people emphatically rejected the Islamists in the recent elections? Was this the result of the hasty and ill-conceived UN Security Council Resolution that imposed an arms embargo on all parties in Libya? Or was it a deliberate policy of “leading from behind” and outsourcing critical tasks to countries who did not share our interest in a democratic and pluralistic Libya? These are questions that fall principally within the responsibility of the secretary of State, not the director of the CIA.
  2. Why did the US continue with that policy failure after Qaddafi’s fall, taking a “mission accomplished” stance and leaving a democratically-elected and pro-American government largely powerless in the face of armed militias? Again, this was principally a State Department responsibility, but the Department of Defense should have pressed for a more active role as well.

Whole thing here.

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