Bing West’s column on National Review Online is hard reading – but, it is must reading for every American. We are more than a month into one of the worst foreign policy debacles in our history. Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, were brutally murdered in the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. That consulate is American sovereign territory. It is as if the Libyans came across the border into San Antonio and killed American citizens on American soil.
In fact, when the Mexican bandit leader Pancho Villa came across the border into New Mexico in 1916 and killed fourteen U.S. soldiers and ten American civilians, President Woodrow Wilson took action. In an election year, no U.S. president could be seen doing nothing when violent mobs are screaming “Death to Americans” shooting, killing, looting, and setting fire to our property.
Wilson was virtually a pacifist. But even his invertebrate administration recognized the need for action. The Wilson administration did not try to evade responsibility for this outrage by stalling, conducting an investigation, and promising to “get to the bottom of all this.”
The candidates were probably right not to get into this Benghazi tragedy too deeply in Monday night’s foreign policy debate. It is a rapidly developing story with startling new revelations almost daily.
Still, Bing West’s column details how everything that happened in our doomed consulate was being recorded in real time by a drone. Sec. of State Hillary Clinton has claimed “responsibility” for this debacle. But that is an empty gesture if she does not immediately resign.
Madame Secretary’s feckless conduct brings to mind the last time an American Secretary of State presided over the violent seizure of a U.S. diplomatic outpost.
In 1979, Sec. Cyrus Vance was similarly unflappable when Muslim militants took over the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. He maintained his cool, professional demeanor, as our Marines and Embassy staff were subjected to beatings and to mock executions.
Sec. Vance was finally stirred to action five months into the hostage crisis when President Jimmy Carter’s rescue mission failed. Several of the rescue aircraft collided and crashed in what would forever be known as “Desert One.” America was further humiliated to see turbaned Iranian mullahs surveying the wreckage of our military aircraft.
The action Cyrus Vance took was to resign as Secretary of State.
He resigned not because the rescue attempt had failed. He resigned because it had been made. He was so committed to “soft power,” diplomatic back-and-forth, that he considered it wrong for Americans to use force to defend American lives.
This is the same mindset we see operating in the skies over Benghazi, Libya. What can be more revealing than the fact that this administration had a drone in the air recording the deaths of four brave Americans?
The lesson to U.S. diplomats and consular personnel is obvious. You put your lives on the line for your country, and if the natives get restless, if they overrun your embassy and kill you, the Secretary of State will “accept responsibility” and the president will make nice comments about you on the Comedy Channel.
President Obama should fire Sec. of State Hillary Clinton. There is no other way to demonstrate that this administration takes its responsibilities seriously. Failure to do that will only guarantee that they continue kicking the can down the road, hoping that they can get past the election before we “get to the bottom of everything.” And a terrible milestone will have been passed.
In these same streets over two hundred years ago, captured American seamen were sold into slavery. “Christians are cheap today!” was the cry of the slave auctioneer. We thought we had come far since that time. President Jefferson then fought the Barbary Pirates to stop their preying on American ships and American lives. But once again, we are showing that the lives of our people are cheap today.
Editor's Note: This column was co-authored by Bob Morrison.
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