A significant point made in riveting testimony by Gregory Hicks, the State Department’s former deputy chief of mission in Libya, has largely been missed in the coverage of Wenesday’s Benghazi hearing. It is worth highlighting, not least because doing so illuminates the depth of the Obama administration’s depravity.
In its assiduous effort to defraud the American people, for 2012-campaign purposes, into believing that the Benghazi massacre was provoked by an anti-Islamic Internet video — rather than having been a coordinated jihadist attack that undermined President Obama’s claim to have decimated al-Qaeda — the administration betrayed its self-proclaimed commitment to establishing democracy in Islamic countries.
It has been widely reported that, during the hearing, Mr. Hicks was asked to respond to the infamously cynical, transparently rehearsed rant — “What difference, at this point, does it make?” — by former secretary of state Hillary Clinton during her long-delayed congressional testimony about Benghazi back in January. Hicks first observed that the real question was, “What difference did it make?” (his emphasis), then proceeded to explain that the difference was enormous . . . and enormously damaging. The reason has to do with Mohammed Magariaf, the president of Libya’s new, post-Qaddafi General National Congress.
In a pleasant surprise during the dark days after the Benghazi massacre, President Magariaf forcefully condemned the attack as the work of Islamic terrorists. For career State Department officials such as him, Hicks elaborated, this was a major coup. Now, to say Hicks was a compelling witness is an understatement. On this point, though, he did not flesh out what he meant. That is why it has not gotten the attention it deserves.
As readers who follow our discussions here know, I am not a fan of Islamic-democracy promotion — at least, not the way our government has done it for the last 20 years, which is more a matter of forcing “democracy” to accommodate anti-democratic sharia law than of instilling the principles of Western liberty. For present purposes, however, the point is not to rehash this debate.
Like most of our best Foreign Service officers, Gregory Hicks is a true believer in helping Islamic countries achieve what he called their “dream of democracy.” This was a goal the Bush and Clinton administration set themselves to. It is, moreover, what the Obama administration claims is its top imperative in the Middle East — the reason why Obama has insisted, for example, on starting an unprovoked war to topple Qaddafi, on giving billions in aid and sophisticated weaponry to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government, and on supporting the “rebels” in Syria despite their ties to the Brotherhood and al-Qaeda.
What officials like Hicks realize but have difficulty explaining — for to explain it is to admit the gargantuan uncertainty of the task — is that democratization calls for authentic Muslim moderates to separate themselves from violent jihadists (and, I would add, from sharia chauvinists posing as moderates). If they are unwilling or unable to do so, there can be no real democracy. There can be only the law of the jihadist jungle or, at best, a milder sharia totalitarianism that, though we may refer to it as “democracy,” is not democracy in any real sense.
As we have seen time and again, however, this is a very hard thing for moderates to do. Again, my point here is not to repeat what I’ve said a million times about how foolish we are not to study Islamic-supremacist ideology. But the unyielding fact is that this ideology is prevalent throughout the Middle East — it is not just the stuff of fringe terrorists. And it teaches that those who sow discord in the ummah — by, for example, condemning fellow Muslims or endorsing Western standards over sharia subjugation — should be ostracized or even killed.
It takes a great deal of bravery for a Muslim to make a stand against this. He is sure to be vilified as an apostate for doing so. Sharia’s penalty for apostasy is death, and the so-called Muslim Street is well known to take such matters into its own hands. This is why President Magariaf’s acknowledgment that the atrocity in Benghazi was a terrorist attack, and his forceful condemnation of the jihadists who carried it out, was such a coup in the eyes of Hicks.