In Fall of 2004, with reelection looming, a top George W. Bush aide openly mocked people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality” while insisting “that’s not the way the world really works anymore” and that the administration could create new realities at will.
Last week’s attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi may not be an identical analogue, but it seems to be the Obama Administration’s moment to ditch reality in favor of a politically expedient narrative that fits none of the evidence but protects the existing policy.
Libya was the big win for the Obama Administration. It didn’t matter that the war was undeclared, or that the President had to openly spurn Congress to keep it going far longer than it was supposed to. People on the ground eventually murdered Moammar Gadhafi, and that’s as close to a victory as the president gets.
Protecting the story of the Libyan victory has become job one for the administration as a new election looms, and he presented it at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) as a centerpiece of his foreign policy, the big trophy on the mantle which he could bring out proving his own policy of unilateralism is better than his opponent’s similar but slightly different version.
So the fact that the Libyan Civil War never really properly ended, but instead transitioned from a war between rebels and regime to a war between several different factions of rebels all hoping to claim the country, and Western-backed politicians hoping to install themselves as the new regime with promises of oil deals never really got talked about.
Benghazi is something else though. It may be one thing for the Western media to ignore major battles between Libyan factions, but when a group of insurgents attacks a consulate and kills the US ambassador, someone is going to notice.
And that’s where we’re at, with the administration spinning this as a spontaneous protest gone wrong that certainly wasn’t anyone’s fault, and that no one could have seen coming.
But as convenient as that is to protect the myth of “victory” in Libya, it doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, as witnesses report no protest was in progress before the attack and even US officials were remarking that the attackers seemed unusually well organized.
All the evidence points to an attack by al-Qaeda or an auxiliary, with Libyan officials saying they explicitly warned the US three days before the attack of the deteriorating security situation. That’s the reality-based assessment, and the one the president seems determined to run away from.