The debate on the consulate attack: why should we care?

(Note, September 20, 11:20 a.m.: many more comments have been posted in this thread.)

For the last week a passionate debate has raged between those—mainly the administration and the left—who said that the Benghazi consulate attack was spontaneous and those—mainly conservatives—who insisted it was the planned action of al Qaeda. Now a top U.S. government anti-terror agency has admitted that the attack was planned and executed by al Qaeda.

Sometimes I’m slow. I just don’t get why this matters, because, either way, the fact remains that post-Kaddafi, “democratic” Libya is a place where jihadism has been unleashed, just as the critics of the U.S./NATO intervention in Libya predicted all along would be the case.

So can someone explain to me why the “it was planned” / “it was unplanned” debate matters?

- end of initial entry -

Bjorn writes:

The “it was unplanned” crowd is allowed to claim, and many people will side with them, that the crowd was spontaneous and was simply ignited (spontaneous combustion?) by the “hideous” video from California. The “it was planned” argument disproves this entire thing and demonstrates how the White House and Administration officials are lying outright. Even the President of Libya (who is this person?) disagrees with the White House.

LA replies:

Yes, I undertand that. But what is at stake behind these positions?

September 20

IA writes:

“So can someone explain to me why the “it was planned” / “it was unplanned” debate matters?”

I can.

Embassies are assigned threat levels. Protocols are issued by bureaucrats expert in “hardening” U.S. facilities, especially after 9/11. They look for degrees of “planned attack” as a threat level. Libya would be at the highest level.

If he [Stevens?] was warned of an attack, AND FAILED TO FOLLOW PROTOCOL, he was derelict in duty, possibly criminally.

If State, and by implication, Obama, was complicit in Stevens’s apparent security breach, they may also be criminally negligent. But, even if not criminally negligent, the harm done is enormous.

This story is huge.

Steve R. writes:

If the attack was planned then the anti-Mohammed film protest was simply a cover for a 9/11 terrorist attack—in which a case it becomes impossible to excuse the terrorist attack as understandable, righteous indignation that “just got out of hand.”

This makes Obama’s principal job—defender of Islam—undertaken by him in his Cairo speech, impossible to accomplish in this instance. It means that not only were Islamics being jihadist, as usual, but they also exploited, perhaps feigned, righteous indignation about their religion to fool the West. This, to some extent, makes a mockery of their indignation and consequently makes it more difficult to take a position that prohibits public condemnation of Islam.

This also means that the continued demonizing of the film’s director (as Obama just did on Letterman) is a giant red herring.

Furthermore, it makes the Obama regime look stupid for initially having been so badly duped by this ploy. They look particularly stupid for not connecting the dots—not identifying it as a planned attack on the anniversary of 9/11. More importantly they appear to be incompetent for their poor intelligence regarding Islamic terrorism.

If this wasn’t just an uncontrollable riot then it was the first serious successful planned act of Islamic terror conducted against American assets and personnel since the eponymous 9/11. The regime is very aware that this did not happen on Bush’s watch (forgive the mild compliment to the man).

In summary, if the protest to the film was merely cover, Obama can’t perform the job he has sworn to do—defend Islam. He failed, as well, in his side job—defending Americans, and he and his cohorts lied multiple times to cover this all up. Perhaps the toughest pill for him to swallow is that something terrible has happened that he can’t blame on Bush.:-)

P.S. Larry, if you must substitute the word administration for regime I don’t mind—I just couldn’t bring myself to identify the criminal enterprise that they are with the respectable word.

Sage McLaughlin writes:

You ask, “What’s at stake between these positions?” It took me some time to figure this out as well. As nearly as I can tell, the reason the administration wants to blame the film, and the film alone, is to deflect questions about its own culpability. Conservatives say that administration policy, and administration incompetence, are to blame for the attacks. Obama is desperate, they say, to avoid looking like a walking disaster in foreign policy just two months before the election, especially since he has spent so much energy clapping himself on the back over the killing of Bin Laden—I recently saw a bumper sticker that read, “It took Obama to get Osama,” and this has been the only part of his record that Obama has been eager to run on (well, that and the GM bailout).

I think the argument is very weird, but that is what appears to be at stake.

Michael writes:

I hope you are having a good morning. The weather, at least in Gramercy, is quite nice. I am truly grateful for the break in the heat, as the nature of the female clothing experiment changes.

Regarding your question about what is at stake behind the two positions. In the leftist mindset an unplanned or spontaneous demonstration is natural outcropping of a democratic population flexing their populous might. Historically the consequences of these unseen demonstrations are excused (LA Riots, etc). By defining the demonstration as spontaneous the administration can claim the Libyans are following the typical script of rioting against non-acceptance of the outsider (Islam), which furthers the belief that all people just want to “get along.” A coordinated attack suggests there is a overt effort to reject the West’s efforts and influences. The administration and the neoconservatives incessantly clamor about the Libyans’ innate desire to be free. By planning an attack against the very agent by which they became free, the Libyans demonstrate the falsity of the script.

Forta Leza writes:

The unstated argument from the left is that if we just tiptoe carefully enough, the Muslims will behave themselves and start acting reasonably.

Fundamentally, it’s no different from the excuses which are constantly invented for black misconduct. Why debate whether or not blacks misbehave as a result of white racism?

Robert B. writes:

Lawrence said:

“Yes, I understand that. But what is at stake behind these positions?”

What is at stake is the legitimacy of the Obama foreign policy. If he has lost three more countries (à la Jimmy Carter), then this whole campaign smacks of 1979 three fold. And no one wants to be Jimmy Carter.

M. Jose writes:

I think the difference between an unplanned or a planned attack is whether we see the rioting Muslims as mere children throwing a temper tantrum who have to be controlled every so often, or whether we see them as an organized, determined enemy who has to be brought to heel or they will destroy us.

LA writes:

Thanks to commenters for the many interesting angles that have been offered. They help provide a rounded picture. I can see that there is a lot at stake both politically and in other ways. However, most of the explanations that have been offered miss what for me is the main point, beyond the political contest between Republicans and Democrats. The main point is that whether the attack was organized or spontaneous, it shows that democratizing a Muslim country empowers Muslim traditionalism, sharia, and jihadism, whatever particular form that empowered Muslim traditionalism may take. And therefore the huge debate on “Was it planned / not-planned?”, as important as it may be in terms of the mainly political issues that have adduced in this discussion, distracts the world’s attention from what ought to be the main issue: the discrediting of the Democracy Project.

LA continues:

At the same time, I don’t want to seem to be minimizing the spectacular political aspects of the affair. For example, as reported at Fox News,

Susan Rice, Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, said on “FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace” that the attack in Libya, which involved multiple stages and heavy weaponry, “was a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired in Cairo as a consequence of the video.”

That claim, made also of course by the White House itself, was so ludicrous on its face and showed such bad faith on the part of the administration that it must be emphasized. And it has now been disclaimed by the administration itself.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 19, 2012 10:00 PM | Send

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