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  • January 25, 2013

    What Difference Does It Make that Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Care Why Terrorists Killed Americans in Libya?

    By Barry Rubin, PC MEDIA

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remark, “What difference does it make?”–regarding how the motive of the terrorists in the Benghazi, Libya, attack that killed the U.S. ambassador and two CIA men isn’t important–will always be associated with her. She added that the only important thing was to punish those responsible.

    Other than a number of obvious points, here are two things that deserve more consideration.First, the motive of an attack is always important. The Obama administration represented the attack as being in response to an anti-Islam video made by an Egyptian-American. If that were to have been true the implication is that the attack was the fault of American behavior.


    Critics tend to see the motive as being due to sheer hatred of America or something along those lines. In fact, the motive is somewhat different and extraordinarily important:

      –To promote Islamist revolution by hitting at the United States, thus showing America is weak and can be defeated as a way to inspire more to engage in violence and revolutionary activity. You can call this the strategic motive. As an example, at the time of Iran’s Islamist revolution many Iranians feared the United States, seeing in almost superhuman, superpower terms, as eager and able to overthrow any regime in Tehran that was too militant. Thus, the movement should be cautious.

    Rejecting this idea, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini wanted to prove that America was weak and could not stop his movement from doing anything it wanted and this is how he portrayed the hostage crisis in the U.S. embassy. A parallel case was that of Usama bin Ladin and the September 11th attack. The message is: Islamism is the movement to back, it is winning victories over the infidels, and can triumph totally.

      –To show that terrorism works in injuring the enemy and thus is superior to what others do, including the political maneuvering and mass base building of the Muslim Brotherhood. This can be called the tactical motive. The message is: terrorism is superior to the methods used by other groups so let’s keep doing it and increasing the number of attacks. In this specific case, the United States easily helped overthrow Qadhafi but it is helpless against our willpower, willing to die, and methods.

      –To put the focus on hatred of America as a way to gain more support for Islamism as—to use contemporary rhetoric—hatred of the “other.” This can be called the ideological motive. The message is:
      Those non-Muslim, non-Arab Americans are the true enemy and any government that is on good terms with them is a traitor.

    These points have been repeatedly stressed by Islamist leaders—Ayman al-Zawahiri comes to mind—in his writings. He and others spoke of how killing fellow Muslims would make the revolutionaries unpopular but killing Israelis or Americans would win them popular backing.

      –In this case, a specific motive was to portray the Libyan regime as an American puppet. To overthrow the regime, it is necessary to attack and defeat the United States, making Americans and U.S. influence flee the country. The message is: the Americans cannot save the Libyan government just as they could not protect the shah in Iran or Mubarak in Egypt. Once Syria falls, the Islamists there will pull out Obama, Clinton, and Secretary of State John Kerry quotes to “prove” that President Bashar al-Assad was an American agent and thus everything bad he did can be blamed on Washington.

    The Obama Administration wants to bury this analysis because it calls attention to the threat of revolutionary Islamism and, in the last case, to the negative aspects of its own Libya policy. Whether or not that initiative of overthrowing Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi was a good idea the fact remains that such a policy has costs. Whether or not unilateral actions and the use of force is a good idea or not in any specific case, standing aside and doing nothing while Americans were killed will also have its costs.

    Whether or not America has made mistakes in its past policies, apologies and concessions will only persuade the Islamists and a large sector of the local population that the United States is weak, can be defeated, and therefore attacks should be escalated.

    Aside from the irrelevance of motive, the other point Clinton made was to emphasize that the most important thing was to punish those responsible. While that sounds impressive, virtually nothing has been done to achieve that goal. In general, of course, the problem is identifying and finding the terrorists, especially if they are located in a country which provides a safe haven to terrorists. The United States never effectively punished, for example, those who attacked the Marine barracks in Beirut in the 1980s
    The Libyan case, however, is different. Libya is ruled by a government that is as close to being a U.S. dependent as any Arab government in modern history. There is no sign of serious U.S. pressure on the Libyan regime to do anything. On the contrary, we see that the regime has let suspects go and that those responsible still operate freely within the country. Again, we are not dealing with terrorists hiding out in places like Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, or Lebanon but rather people going about their daily lives in a country supposedly friendly to the United States.

    Of course, it is embarrassing for the Libyan government to cooperate in going after these terrorists. But one would think, especially given Secretary of State Clinton’s remarks, that the priority on getting these individuals would override that political consideration. It doesn’t.

    Remember that it is highly likely—U.S. leaders with access to intelligence know for sure—that high-ranking officials in Pakistan were helping Usama bin Ladin hide despite receiving billions of dollars in U.S. aid. But Libya is an easier case since supposedly the United States has a lot of leverage there.

    Remember, too, that it is highly likely that the U.S. leadership let those brave Americans in Libya die because it didn’t want to rush in with military forces and embarrass an incompetent and unwilling to act Libyan government. Indeed, we know for certain that this is why the consulate did not have proper U.S. security protection but–hard as it is to believe–the security was turned over to Islamists who could be reasonably suspected as being anti-American and linked to terrorists. The individuals guarding the consulate had not even received any serious training.

    So Clinton’s show of indifference isn’t just a question of distracting attention or callousness, it is a clear symptom of exactly what is wrong with the Obama Administration’s handling of this and other issues. To paraphrase Obama’s own famous remark, Clinton’s statement is a way of claiming in regard to the current crisis in the Middle East that the Islamists “didn’t build that,” a guilty America did. That kind of thinking will lead to a disaster for U.S. interests and the loss of more American lives.

    Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Other recent books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center and of his blog, Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.

    Professor Barry Rubin, Director, Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center http://www.gloria-center.org
    The Rubin Report blog http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/
    He is a featured columnist at PJM http://pajamasmedia.com/barryrubin/.
    Editor, Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal http://www.gloria-center.orgEditor Turkish Studies,http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~db=all~content=t713636933%22

  • Posted by Ted Belman @ 10:18 am | 16 Comments »

    16 Comments to What Difference Does It Make that Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Care Why Terrorists Killed Americans in Libya?

    1. Max says:

      The Libyan case, however, is different. Libya is ruled by a government that is as close to being a U.S. dependent as any Arab government in modern history. There is no sign of serious U.S. pressure on the Libyan regime to do anything. On the contrary, we see that the regime has let suspects go and that those responsible still operate freely within the country. Again, we are not dealing with terrorists hiding out in places like Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, or Lebanon but rather people going about their daily lives in a country supposedly friendly to the United States.

      Of course, it is embarrassing for the Libyan government to cooperate in going after these terrorists.


      Absolute baloney – this is what the author wants to think but obviously he has no knowledge of what happens in Libya. The Libyan government has it’s own reasons to be proactively going after Islamic terrorists and it is dong so vigorously.
      There were popular demonstrations Pro-American in Libya after the assassination and demands to root out all Islamists. . The ambassador was well loved by Libyans.

      I guess political assassins of Obama never let a little thing like truthful details bother them – just spin any story to whip up hatred.

      “an competent and unwilling to act Libyan government” Libya’s security system is of course weak after a devastating civil war – what would anyone expect?

      Don’t blame Libya or Libyans for the failure of Obama to provide adequate security or for his lies after the fact about what happened.. This one’s totally on America. They knew the situation as well as the Libyans , if they wanted to be there they should have provided better security and just plain accepted the risks. If they didn’t know they weren’t in Kansas anymore, who’s fault is that? It’s going to take a few years before Libya has even relative safety for even ordinary businessmen – that’s the price of freedom.

    2. Dean says:

      By asserting that the attack was “in response to an anti-Islam video made by an Egyptian-American” showed how far the Obama regime would go to appease Islamists. At one point the emphasis was on Jewish and then Christian perpetrators of a film that made Muslims angry – leading to what the Obamites were framing as justified retribution for the crime of insulting Islamists. The whole incident was covered up to protect American ears from hearing the word “terrorism” because it is now a word on the long list of words that offend Muslims and that work them into a frenzy. The fact that America put her diplomats into the hands of Libyan terrorist security forces shows just how deluded America has become – not only does America refuse to admit to a problem with Islamists that needs addressing, we are willing to trust terrorists to protect the lives of government officials and the public! For Hilarious Clinton to downplay her role and cover up a trail of deception puts the future of all Americans in jeopardy – she would rather sacrifice American freedom and free speech to make Islamists and terrorists feel warm and cozy in the knowledge that they will never be pursued under this obsessively political correct Obama regime. They know that Obama will sacrifice Christians and Jews and others before he admits that Islam has severe issues with its ideology and violent tendencies. Islamists’ rights to not be offended now come before the words and spirit of The Constitution of the United States.

    3. walterbyrd says:

      >>The Obama administration represented the attack as being in response to an anti-Islam video made by an Egyptian-American. If that were to have been true the implication is that the attack was the fault of American behavior.<<

      WTF!!!??? Are you suggesting that the actions of *one* Egyption crimminal, who happened to be living in the US, represents ALL Americans?

    4. walterbyrd says:

      Gotta love Hillary, this is the same woman who was working so hard to promote global anti-blasphemy laws, to appease the Islamic members of the UN.

    5. Bill Narvey says:

      Max, denying Rubin knows what is going on in Libya, while telling us what is, raises questions as to your sources for such truths. It also raises questions as to your own competence at analysis.

      Why not make your own fact based analysis on the situation instead of just hurling criticism of Rubin.

      I await your fact based reasoned views and then I will decide whether you have even a clue of what you speak of as regards Libya,

    6. Honey Bee says:

      @ Max:

      Dear Heart,not again!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I agree with you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    7. Honey Bee says:

      Just a silly female idea

      Just a silly female idea!! but could the US Anbassador have been “running guns” to the Syrian rebels???? What was he doing in Ben Ghazi?

    8. Jerry G says:

      To get to the root of question what was wrong about the Administration response to the Benghazi attack you have to look at our so called commander in chief. It’s obvious that his true interests lie with the Islamists and not with this country. Not surprising considering who he actually is and what his roots were. Let’s stop pretending or hoping that he is our commander in chief. He is not. Like everything else about that man it is false.

    9. Ira Curtis says:

      We all will miss Obama once the Clinton will become the US president, (And I am afraid she will).
      Even those who now say “What difference does it make?”

    10. Honey Bee says:

      @ Ira Curtis:

      I don’t know where you live. Where I live in the Western USA, I hear the first rumblings of rebelleon, what comes of it, who knows.

    11. the phoenix says:

      Honey Bee Said:

      I hear the first rumblings of rebelleon, what comes of it, who knows

      fort sumter 2013…

    12. Honey Bee says:

      @ the phoenix:,,

      Fort Stockton,Tx 2013 Did you listen to Rubio immigration prposels Aprenden Uds. Espanol

    13. yamit82 says:

      Honey Bee Said:

      What was he doing in Ben Ghazi?

      Just hanging out with the guys? ;)

    14. yamit82 says:

      Bill Narvey Said:

      Why not make your own fact based analysis on the situation instead of just hurling criticism

      Since you credit Rubin with more knowledge than Max what is you evidence?

      Rubin makes a living from claiming expertise with writing and lecturing, to the best of my knowledge Max does not. Have you checked Rubin’s claims and analysis against the facts after the fact. I have, and what I have discerned is that he like most professional analysts are more wrong than right but they correctly rely on nobody checking the against reality.

    15. Honey Bee says:

      @ yamit82:

      Maybe they were listening to drinking and cheating songs N 3 “Wine Colored Roses

      rosses” by the much loved George Jones

    16. the phoenix says:

      yamit82 Said:

      Just hanging out with the guys?

      that cracked me up…

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