By: Sal Palma
I received a reader question regarding the Benghazi incident; his e-mail had an almost paranoid character to it. The individual was deeply concerned that the White House was conspiring with Islamists to undermine our foreign missions in the Middle East, and he wanted to know what we thought of the situation.
First off, paranoia comes from a mental disorder but it can also be induced. The first thing that you need to come to grips with is that there is an investigation underway. Next, recognize you’re getting information from media sources that are politically polarized. They are advancing theories based on a minimal amount of fact and spinning them to advance their goal.
As to what we think. We don’t have access to the facts surrounding the event so anything that we say is conjecture. But, I’ll give it a shot.
U.S. Embassies around the world perform a great deal of work. They work to establish trade relations, facilitate travel, assist local governments with development and conduct intelligence operations where there is a national interest or where the local government requests those services.
After the Arab Spring led to the fall of Muammar Gaddaf, rebels in Libya – who’s affiliations may well be Al Qaeda, gained access to Libya’s arsenal. What sort of weapon systems made up the Libya arsenal is not fully understood, but prior to the Arab Spring, the region (Middle East) was spending 15% to 25% of GDP on defense. Therefore, it’s reasonable to assume they weren’t just buying Kalashnikovs. Libya, Egypt and other players in the region where investing in advanced weapon systems. Of major concern are the man portable air defense systems or MPADS. These are the anti-aircraft shoulder fired missiles that can be used to bring down aircraft.
I believe the embassy in Benghazi was heavily involved in assessing what weapons systems were available to the Libyan rebels and what level of shrinkage was experienced.
I believe that attacking the embassy on 9/11/2012 was a decoy and not a response to a video, or to commemorate the attacks on the World Trade Center, and that the underlying “real” reason was to disrupt intelligence operations in the country.
Let’s assume for a moment, that we had information that MPADS are missing. This is probably something you’d want to keep out of the media – until you have a more complete picture or risk assessment; because, it would be extremely disruptive to an already struggling economy. So, I hope you can see why there’s a need for discretion.
As a rule, I don’t subscribe to conspiracy theories nor do I believe that those elected and appointed to serve are secretly working to conspire with outside sources. However, don’t expect 100% transparency because it may do much more harm than good.
American’s lost their lives in Benghazi and that is certainly tragic. The underlying reason for failing to support the embassy could be misinformation, failure in communications and incompetence. It is highly unlikely the motive was political. In fact, had the military rushed in to rescue Benghazi, it would be a huge political plus for the administration.
Reserve judgment and let the investigation proceed but base your decisions and opinions on facts. Take anything and everything the media says with a very large grain of salt, until a more complete picture is available to you.
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