According to soon-to-retire Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, when four American diplomats are killed in Benghazi, Libya, it does not make a difference how the administration characterizes the causes of their deaths.
It only makes a difference that whatever caused the failure in American security be fixed.
It seems to have escaped Mrs. Clinton that in order to fix the problem, it must be properly defined. Yes, part of the problem is the breakdown in security. Another part of the problem is how top administration actors came to either lie about or be ignorant of the causes of the security failure. Diplomacy is the art of communication. The administration’s gross error in communicating why the failure occurred is a classic diplomatic failing that must be fixed.
To refresh memories, the US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, went on five TV shows right after the murders in Benghazi, attributing their deaths to a spontaneous riot prompted by an anti-Islamic video produced in America. A day later, President Obama attributed their deaths to a terrorist attack, though various administration spokespeople repeated the video explanation for days.
It should not escape a Secretary of State of the US that something needs fixing when the emotions of Muslims are needlessly inflamed by an American ambassador to the UN who erroneously calls widespread attention to an otherwise little known, or unknown, piece of anti-Islamic trash, produced in America. Yet, Secretary Clinton, in defending he actions before Congress, indignantly dismissed the importance of fixing a faulty procedure by which the administration erroneously blamed the deaths of four Americans in Libya on this video. One cannot escape the impression that Clinton was simply trying to shift the blame for her own failure, and come out squeaky clean.
Another aspect of the botched handling of the Benghazi affair makes a difference at this time, and at any time. Vice President Biden, Rice and Clinton seem to think that when they say “we didn’t know” what happened at the time Rice blamed the murders on an anti-Islam film, they make an exculpatory claim. However, when the top leadership of the country doesn’t know what’s happening in its own diplomatic missions —especially in dangerous parts of the world — this is not an excuse. It is an additional problem that needs to be fixed.
The refuge of incompetence is the passive voice. “It was not brought to my attention” is how Clinton exonerated herself for the failures in Benghazi, and afterward. However, it was her job as the Secretary of State to put in a place a system under which critical matters would be brought to her attention. It was her job to guide, or at least to know, what her ambassador to the UN would say after four American diplomats — Clinton’s employees! — were murdered.
Problems cannot be fixed if they cannot be faced. Four Americans are dead, and all Clinton can do is to blame Congress for the security lapse. She must face he failure in her diplomats’ communications and lack of knowledge of the chain of events. Similarly, she must face the gaps in communication in the chain of command. For Clinton to say “I take responsibility,” yet not to face these problems, is meaningless.
On the larger issue, Clinton’s tenure at State did not see her defeat or dent terrorism in North Africa. Nor did her tenure bring Israeli-Palestinian peace one step closer, slow Iran’s production of nuclear-weapon capacity, “reset” relations with Russia, which are worse than at any time since the fall of communism, or change a thing in North Korea or in human rights abuses in China or India.
Copyright © 2013 by the Intermountain Jewish News