Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi

27 Oct

-Fred Burton, Samuel M. Katz

Might interest readers of To The Shores.

One of the trends I am not particularly fond of is the rush to get books out on subjects of interest. Every political upheaval or geopolitical incident, it seems, prompts a mad rush to produce a book – which is rarely up to date. Often, by the time it is published, events have moved onwards. There is no time for mature reflection and understanding, let alone distance between us and the event that allows us to look with a cold critical eye. Like most such books, therefore, Under Fire promises more than it actually delivers.

Under Fire purports to be the untold story of the attack in Benghazi, an event that has been shrouded in confusion since it took place. In some ways, the book is actually quite good at putting events into context. In others, it fails. For example, the book cites the claim that the release of the controversial YouTube movie, The Innocence of Muslims, fuelled the attack. Put bluntly, this claim is nonsense. The attack on Benghazi was planned long before the video was released and the attackers simply got lucky. It was a coincidence that allowed them to claim that they were merely defending Islam, a claim picked up by idiot Westerners and used as an excuse for overlooking the death of Ambassador Stevens.

Where Under Fire does well is in exploring the lives of the security officers responsible for guarding diplomats on foreign deployments. Their task is not an easy one, made worse by the typical disconnect between people on the ground and people behind a comfortable desk in Washington. In this case, the experience of officers on the ground were largely ignored by Washington, contributing to the tragedy. The book also notes that no one in Benghazi was unaware of the ‘secret’ CIA base in the city. The attackers had no difficulty in finding their target.

The book also does well in outlining what actually happened. The oddly hesitant nature of the attack on the building only adds to the belief that the attack was planned long before the video was distributed. It also gets across the chaos caused by losing track of people in the confusion, including the Ambassador. By the time they realised he was gone, it was already too late to save him.

However, the authors avoid the question of assigning blame, let alone asking hard questions. For example, why was there no military attempt to intervene? This may not have been possible (I am no expert) but, if so, this should have been explained. It wasn’t. Where were President Obama, Hilary Clinton and the other decision-makers when the attack was underway? Why were there no contingency plans for assisting Americans (and other Westerners) in case Libya descended into anarchy? In fact, the book shies away from any examination of what happened in Washington.

Even the most charitable view of the Administration’s failure raises problems. It takes time to get news up the chain to Washington, time to make a decision and time to implement it … by which time the situation has probably moved on and the original orders are no longer viable. This delay is epidemic through the colossal bureaucracy Washington and most other Western nations have become. Swift response to problems is simply impossible.

Political correctness also proves a major weapon in the arsenal of our enemies. The world is full of things that offend me – and I think that is true for just about everyone. I do not think that gives me an excuse to riot and kill the people responsible. Nor, no matter the offence, does it give me the right to kill people who are utterly unrelated to the offence. The question of ‘guilt by association or country’ was settled long ago. There is no excuse for accepting, let alone repeating, our enemy’s claim that we somehow brought the attack down on ourselves. Or should Libya be randomly bombed on the grounds that the bombed shared a country with the terrorists who attacked American diplomats?

Call me a cynic, but I think that Benghazi represents yet another test of the West’s mettle – a test we flunked. As I noted in my afterword for To The Shores, the failure to respond harshly to the attacks in Tehran, Beirut and now Benghazi made us look weak. Weakness invites attack.

Our enemies did not hesitate to take note.

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11 Responses to “Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi”

  1. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard October 27, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

    Hey Chris! Don’t you know it’s all Bush’s fault! [Wink]

    Seriously, I’m not looking forward to the Obama-bots coming here to defend Obama.

    • chrishanger October 27, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

      I think that excuse has worn a bit thin by now. Chris > Date: Sun, 27 Oct 2013 14:10:55 +0000 > To: christopher_g_nuttall@hotmail.com >

      • Bob Walters October 28, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

        It goes both ways the GOP continue to blame the President for stuff that clearly happened under Bush. They seem to forget that the President did not take office until Jan 2009.

      • chrishanger October 29, 2013 at 10:23 am #

        Thats one of the problems with American politics the President may change, but he or she has to deal with problems his predecessor failed to tackle.

        Candidate Obama could carp and criticise all he liked. President Obama realises just how many limitations President Bush faced and finds himself facing the same limits as Bush.

        Chris

        > Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2013 19:56:59 +0000 > To: christopher_g_nuttall@hotmail.com >

  2. Ben Hartley October 27, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

    True, “it’s all Bush’s fault” has worn more than a bit thin, but it’s the only “excuse” too many people have.

    As for cynicism: you are absolutely right that it is impossible for Washington to function. This is caused by the bloated bureaucracy filled with people who so desperately want the position, the title, and the pay, but have absolutely no idea how to do the job they’ve been hired (or elected) to do.

    • chrishanger October 28, 2013 at 10:27 am #

      Idiots. You’d think they could at least find someone capable of doing the job, then take the credit. They can’t even get that right. Chris > Date: Sun, 27 Oct 2013 16:08:50 +0000 > To: christopher_g_nuttall@hotmail.com >

    • andy farman November 19, 2013 at 3:21 am #

      Isn’t that the problem with ‘leadership’ today? ‘Protocols’ and ‘Make it happen’ (delegation) have replaced ability in all organisations.
      University and College degrees are not worth the paper they are written on. A two year course in ‘Policing’ to learn why people commit crime?
      Hunger, Need, Greed, Envy and Sloth ….. there you go, two years compressed into twenty seconds and all explained by someone with a secondary modern education.

      • chrishanger November 19, 2013 at 11:09 am #

        That’s definitely part of the problem. The other part is that it takes time to react and time can be lacking, even with the best will in the world.

        Chris

        Sent from my iPad

        >

  3. Walt Dunn (TroT) October 27, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    Chris, you’re correct. There are far too many people working for our state department who refuse to see the real situation in the world. It’s about time they did a in depth cleanout of all the political correctness worshipers in our State Department. The Secretaries of State and Defense are totally at fault for lack of response, lack of preparation etc. In addition, it’s a pity that the Ambassador was trying to do his job while his own subordinates weren’t.

  4. Bob Walters October 27, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

    Chris you are right we should have responded militarily to terrorism with the first major attack. However, that would. of course, been when our staff was taken hostage by Iran in 1979. It was a horrible mistake for Ronald Reagan to trade arms, spare parts. and money for the hostages. This set a terrible precedent of dealing with state sponsored terrorists. But then Ronnie set a lot of terrible precedents. As to a response for the Benghazi attack on a CIA compound, who would you have us attack? Knee jerk responses are common, however, it is always good to review all aspects of a situation.

    • chrishanger October 28, 2013 at 10:26 am #

      That’s the problem. Even with the best will in the world, Libya’s provisional government probably couldn’t guarantee security. Iran, on the other hand, could – it chose not to. Chris > Date: Sun, 27 Oct 2013 18:47:41 +0000 > To: christopher_g_nuttall@hotmail.com >

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