Libya political blame game devalues human lives

By Maayan Schechter – mschecht@unca.edu – Assistant Campus Voice Editor

If you tuned in to the end of the presidential debate on Monday about national security and foreign policy, you probably heard Mitt Romney and President Obama argue about the Benghazi attacks yet again. If you have not yet voted, you should think about this issue.

After four men, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, were killed in Benghazi, Libya, many are questioning who is really at fault for the increased bloodshed and why the media and politicians keep discussing the event.

Prior to the murders, many voters were unaware of the increased pressure in Libya. Some cannot point to Libya on a map. After local Libya militant group Ansar al-Shariah took four lives, the Benghazi issue has come up more times in the media and in the debates than gay marriage, evolution or the drug war. Monday’s presidential debate was no exception.

At first, the White House blamed a series of protests due to an anti-Islam video directed and produced in the United States. A Coptic Christian made the video, portraying Muhammed as a rapist and depicting Islam as savage. Then a couple of weeks later, the White House took the position that there was premeditated attacks. Then, the GOP and Romney began to point fingers.

During the latest presidential debate, Romney brought up Obama’s comments in the Rose Garden, saying he never called the attacks a “terrorist attack.” Yet, the president did in fact use the word “terror.” The president used the word “terror” one more time, on Sept. 13, when he said, “And we want to send a message all around the world – anybody who would do us harm: No act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world, and no act of violence will shake the resolve of the United States of America.” But that was not enough to quiet Republican attacks on the White House and the president.

The question of what really caused four Americans to be murdered, whether an anti-Islam video or a pre planned attack,  continues to be front page news on numerous media outlets and papers. Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan stated, “It took the president two weeks to acknowledge that this was a terrorist attack.” Many GOP members and Republican voters look back at statements made by White House spokesman Jay Carney and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice when they both made comments on television that the attack was not premeditated, but an aftermath of protests which started in Egypt.

According to the New York Times, eyewitnesses in Benghazi said there were never demonstrations going on in Libya, but that a crowd gathered outside the embassy and began looting and destroying the ground.

The attackers told bystanders they were attacking the compound because they were angry about the anti-Islam video. They never mentioned the Sept. 11 anniversary.

Last Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton took responsibility for the attacks. During a CNN television interview, she said, “I’m in charge of the State Department’s 60,000-plus people all over the world (at) 275 posts. The president and the vice president wouldn’t be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals.

They’re the ones who weigh all the threats and the risks and the needs a make a considered decision.” She then made clear that she wanted to avoid any kind of blame game or “political gotcha.”

The Libyan government and its people have been apologetic. Those that killed Ambassador Stevens and three others do not represent Libya.

Understandably so, when a country places an embassy or consulate on foreign soil, there is no exemption to an attack.

During Obama’s four-year term, the United States has actually been able to balance terrorist groups in northern Africa and in the Middle East. Obama has kept Al-Qaeda relatively quiet in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

However, there is work to be done with Al-Qaeda sympathizers in countries like Somalia.

The blame game needs to end. The constant politicizing of this issue before election time in November is getting old. The death of these four Americans is tragic and disturbing. Using their deaths for political gain is just as tragic.

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