To understand what went wrong in the Benghazi mission, it’s important to begin by looking at what was so unique about it.
When the Islamist mobs began their September 11 rampage, they found embassies with high walls, heavy security and police protection. Even in Tunis and Cairo, where the Arab Spring Islamist regimes have been accused of collaborating with their fellow Salafists, there were credible military and police forces capable of preventing the kind of full scale assault that took place in Benghazi.
The mission in Benghazi, however, was an American diplomatic facility with few defenses in a city where the police were virtually helpless against the Islamist militias and where the national government had announced that it would allow the Salafists to destroy Sufi tombs rather than intervene.
On September 1, I wrote that the real implication of these remarks was that the Libyan government had given the Islamists a free hand and would take no action no matter what they did. And bloodshed was sure to follow. Ten days later it did.
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