In Libya, Islamists were the backbone of the rebellion: the Muslim Brotherhood partnering, as it is wont to do, with violent jihadists — in this instance, al-Qaeda and its affiliates. Toppling Qaddafi would necessarily result in their empowerment. They’d insinuate themselves into any new government. They’d set up sharia enclaves where they were strong enough to do so. And they’d strengthen themselves by seizing chunks of Qaddafi’s arsenal of high-powered weaponry. Being incorrigibly anti-American, they’d use their new influence and power against the United States.
That is why some of us implored Obama not to intervene. As I argued at the time (responsively quoting a Fox News anchor):
I am not “suggesting that we would be better off with the Qaddafi dictatorship still in effect.” I am saying it outright. If the choice is between an emerging Islamist regime and a Qaddafi dictatorship that cooperates with the United States against Islamists, then I’ll take Qaddafi. If the choice is between tolerating the Qaddafi dictatorship and disgracing ourselves by . . . turning a blind eye to the atrocities of our new Islamist friends . . . then give me the Qaddafi dictatorship every time.
The “atrocities” of note at the time were twofold: the massacres Libya’s Islamists carried out against black Africans suspected of allying with Qaddafi’s regime, and the barbaric murder of Qaddafi himself — when he was abused and displayed as a trophy, just like Ambassador Christopher Stevens would later be. These opened a ready window on the type of savages Obama’s policy was guaranteed to abet.
The straight line from Obama’s Libya policy of empowering Islamists to the Benghazi massacre is rarely discussed. Maybe it would be clearer if the Republican establishment had not ardently supported Obama’s war against Libya. Maybe it would be clearer if Romney and Ryan stopped sounding nearly as delusional about the “Arab Spring” as Obama and Biden do. Maybe it would be clearer if Romney and Ryan stopped talking about reprising the Libya debacle in Syria, joined at the hip to what they call “our ally Turkey” — Hamas’s new sugar daddy and staunchest defender. It would surely be welcome if the GOP ticket started diagnosing “spring fever” instead of manifesting its symptoms.
In Benghazi, we see the wages of the disease. The pathogen was not a video. Want to know why our people were left unprotected and why mounds of intelligence foreshadowing peril were ignored? Don’t look to Obama’s vice president, look to Obama’s policy.
— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and the executive director of the Philadelphia Freedom Center. He is the author, most recently, of Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, which was recently published by Encounter Books.