Christopher Stevens gets his wish

His wish: no security protection, so he could get up close and personal with the local Muslims and really be who he wanted to be—which turned out to mean being dead.

Here are excerpts from an article in the September 16 New York Times, “A U.S. Envoy Who Plunged Into Arab Life”:

[F]or an American ambassador to have so little security on the anniversary of Sept. 11, especially in a part of Libya known for its radicalism, is bound to raise questions, and in some sense, only adds to the irony of his death in a country he loved, and that for the most part, loved him back as an ally and a friend…. [LA replies: Irony? If, say, a man drives drunk at 120 miles an hour while tweeting, and is killed, like aspiring rapper Ervin McKinness, is that irony? Irony means “incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs.” When what occurs is exactly what should be expected, that is the opposite of irony.]

But [Noga Tarnopolsky, a journalist and friend of Christopher Stevens] said he was deeply frustrated with security regulations that confined his activities. “He wanted that human contact, he wanted to be able to speak to Palestinians on the street, and he couldn’t because security regulations made him always travel in armored vehicles,” she said. “He used to talk about how he felt this was an obstacle to his ability to really be who he wanted to be.”

At the same time, she said, “those security measures might have saved his life in a very different context,” and now there creeps in a thought, she said, that perhaps he was too trusting…. [LA replies: That’s what reality is to liberals, something that creeps in against your usual thought patterns, rather than something you see and normally should see.]

Roya Hakakian, an Iranian-born writer who met him then, said that “he displayed the quintessential sunny innocence of Americans.” [LA replies: Here’s sunny innocence speaking: “All people are just like us, or can easily become just like us. Muslims desire freedom in their hearts, just like us.”]

Late last year, as Mr. Stevens waited for his confirmation hearings, they met in Washington, she wrote in They spoke about the radicalization of the Libyan opposition and her concern that there would inevitably be a lashing out at the United States. She cited the takeover of the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979 as inevitable, given the revolutionary narrative.

“Chris’s face was unusually flushed as he listened,” Ms. Hakakian wrote. “He was far more hopeful about the future.” He seemed hurt, she said. “Chris had fallen in love with Libya’s revolution. At the end, those very forces whose influence he thought would be curbed had claimed his life.”

- end of initial entry -

Vincent Chiarello writes:

During my nearly three decades as a Foreign Service Officer, I was assigned to embassies where terrorism, including the assassination of a U.S. Ambassador, had occurred. For example, Ambassador John Gordon Mien was murdered in Guatemala in 1968, and, as a result, the U.S. Ambassador had a security detail assigned to him personally. I do not exaggerate when I state that I, too, had a bodyguard who rode with me to every appointment while I served there from 1974-78.

The same was true even if, as in Rome, no ostensible threat to the ambassador’s safety was an issue. The U.S. Ambassador to The Holy See (the Vatican) had two security agents provided and paid for by the Italian government, as did all ambassadors credentialed to Rome.

What is striking to me in reading about the late Ambassador Stevens’s death was his apparent dismissal of his security guard, something I cannot believe Stevens could have done so without prior authorization from Secretary Clinton or an appropriate official in the chain of command. But were two of the three men who died with him not part of his security team?

De mortuiis nihil nisi bonam (of the dead say nothing but good) is an aphorism worth following, but a delusional outlook by a U.S. ambassador serving in a Moslem country tests one’s willingness to say nothing of his downright and fatal foolishness.

September 17

Wanda S. writes from Canada:

I’m sorry to hear that Stevens pursued the leftist delusion all the way to self-destruction. He reminds me of Timothy Treadwell, the “Grizzly Man,” who thought he could live among wild bears without any means of protection because he would be able to convince them of his well-meaning harmlessness. As you know, he and his girlfriend ended up being eaten by the bears he was communing with.

LA replies:

I wasn’t aware of Treadwell. Thanks for giving me the background. In fact, a couple of commenters in recent days sent e-mails referencing “Grizzly man” in relation to Stevens, but without explaining what they were talking about, so I deleted the e-mails instead of posting them.

Peter F. writes:

Forgive me for speaking ill of the dead, but the thought came into my head unbidden that the late Ambassador Stevens deserves the Darwin Award for his incongruous end. I am reminded of that chap, wildlife photographer and “Grizzly Bear guru” Timothy Treadwell, who attained a certain degree of notoriety about a decade ago for daring to live among grizzlies, unarmed, and entirely confident no harm would come to him, so profound was his knowledge of and trust in bears. Treadwell and his girlfriend both came to a grisly end when the bears among which they were living turned on them and made a meal of them. It was caught on camera for posterity. Treadwell was undoubtedly a liberal environmentalist type. Getting back to the late ambassador, he was living among predators, too, and refused to recognize it—and he paid for it with his life.

I am a bit saddened by Stevens’ death, but also cannot help but shake my head at his foolhardiness and naivete. One could see this coming a mile away. Stevens was old enough to have been around when the bodies of our soldiers were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, Somalia in the mid-1990s (during the “Blackhawk Down” incident at the Battle of Mogadishu) by enraged Muslims. Apparently, he didn’t learn from history—and that ignorance came back to bite him.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 16, 2012 04:46 PM | Send

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