29 May 2013

Harry Targ : Benghazi is the Perfect 'Scandal'

Political cartoon by Daryl Cagle / Cagle Cartoons.
The perfect 'scandal'
The real 'scandal' is the cover-up of what the U.S. was doing in Libya.
By Harry Targ / The Rag Blog / May 30, 2013

On the night of September 11, 2012, an armed group attacked a diplomatic post in the city of Benghazi in eastern Libya. The next morning a CIA annex was attacked. Out of these two attacks four United States citizens were killed including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

According to a November 2012 Wall Street Journal article (quoted by Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic, May 13, 2013):
The U.S. effort in Benghazi was at its heart a CIA operation, according to officials briefed on the intelligence. Of the more than 30 American officials evacuated from Benghazi following the deadly assault, only seven worked for the State Department. Nearly all the rest worked for the CIA, under diplomatic cover, which was a principal purpose of the consulate, these officials said.
On March 17, 2011, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1973 authorizing humanitarian intervention in Libya. It endorsed “Member States, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory...” Five Security Council members abstained from support of this resolution: Brazil, China, Germany, India, and Russia.

Passage of the resolution was followed by a NATO-led air war on targets in that country. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was established in 1949 as a military alliance to defend Europe from any possible aggression initiated by the Soviet Union. If words mattered, NATO should have dissolved when the Soviet Union collapsed.

The United States, so concerned for the human rights of people in the Persian Gulf and Middle East, including in Libya, was virtually silent as nonviolent revolutions overthrew dictatorial regimes in Tunisia and Egypt earlier in 2011.

The United States continued to support regimes in Bahrain and Yemen in the face of popular protest and violent response and remained the primary rock-solid supporter of the state of Israel as it continued to expand settlements in the West Bank and blockaded the transfer of goods to Palestinians in Gaza.

And, of course, in the face of growing ferment in the Middle East and Persian Gulf for democratization not a word was said by way of criticism of the monarchical system in Saudi Arabia.

So as the Gaddafi regime in Libya fought its last battles, leading ultimately to the capture and assassination of the Libyan dictator, the NATO alliance and the United States praised themselves for their support of movements for democratization in Libya.

What seemed obvious to observers except most journalists was the fact that the overthrow of the Libyan regime, for better or worse, could not have occurred without the massive bombing campaign against military and civilian targets throughout Libya carried out by NATO forces.

From the vantage point of the Benghazi crisis of September 11, 2012, humanitarian intervention, which in Benghazi included 23 (of some 30) U.S. representatives who were CIA operatives, suggests that the attacks on U.S. targets might have had something to do with the history of U.S interventionism in the country. Great powers, such as the United States, continue to interfere in the political life of small and poor countries. And, the mainstream media continues to provide a humanitarian narrative of imperialism at work.

The post-9/11 Benghazi story is one of Republicans irresponsibly focusing on inter-agency squabbles and so-called contradictory Obama “talking points” after the killings of the four U.S. representatives in Benghazi. They chose not to address the real issue of the United States pattern of interference in the internal affairs of Libya.

And the Obama Administration defends itself by denying its incompetence in the matter, desperately trying to avoid disclosing the real facts in the Benghazi story which might show that the CIA and the Ambassador’s staff were embedded in Benghazi to interfere in the political struggles going on between factions among the Libyan people.

As Alexander Cockburn put it well in reference to the war on Libya in The Nation in June 2011:
America’s clients in Bahrain and Riyadh can watch the undignified pantomime with a tranquil heart, welcoming this splendid demonstration that they have nothing to fear from Obama’s fine speeches or Clinton’s references to democratic aspirations, well aware that NATO’s warplanes and helicopters are operating under the usual double standard -- with the Western press furnishing all appropriate services.
If Cockburn were alive today he would have added that the Libyan operation was about U.S. covert interventionism, anger on the part of sectors of the Benghazi citizenship, and not about the United States encouraging “democratic aspirations” of the Libyan people.

Neither Republicans nor Democrats want to have a conversation about U.S. interventionism but prefer to debate about a “scandal.” The real “scandal” is the cover-up of what the U.S. was doing in Libya.

[Harry Targ is a professor of political science at Purdue University and is a member of the National Executive Committee of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. He lives in West Lafayette, Indiana, and blogs at Diary of a Heartland Radical. Read more of Harry Targ's articles on The Rag Blog.]

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