Libya is a plenary Islamic country. Magariaf is a Sunni Muslim from Benghazi — albeit one who lived for decades in the U.S. He was among Qaddafi’s most prominent enemies, and is reputed to be a liberal in the classic sense, supporting free elections and free speech, as well as equality among citizens and between the sexes. Not surprisingly, he has been the target of multiple assassination attempts, the most recent one in January. He is, in sum, exactly the kind of ally the democracy project desperately needs if it is to have any chance of success.
Magariaf’s condemnation of the Benghazi terrorist attack was an announcement to the world that there are prominent Muslims willing to run the risk of taking on the jihadists — the very thing we justifiably complain that we don’t hear nearly enough of from self-professed moderates. It was also an announcement that there are Muslims prepared to stand publicly and strongly with the United States, even if that means influential sharia jurists will condemn them for breaking ranks.
None of this was lost on the White House. Yet President Obama dispatched Susan Rice to the Sunday talk shows anyway — her talking points oozing with deceit, as Steve Hayes’s devastating report in The Weekly Standard has demonstrated. Rice directly contradicted Magariaf, maintaining that the attack on our compound resulted from a spontaneous “protest” provoked by a hateful video defaming Islam’s prophet. This disgusting performance — mounting evidence proves she knew what she said was false — badly undermined Magariaf’s credibility. Worse, it implied that the jihadists who murdered our officials were justified in their rage, if not in their savage actions — i.e., that sharia blasphemy principles trump the free speech that any real democracy must have as its foundation.
That, Hicks said, is why his jaw dropped when he heard Rice’s assertions, which, he further recalled, left him personally “stunned” and “embarrassed” for our country. He was embarrassed because the cause for which he has spent much of his career struggling — the cause for which American blood and treasure have been copiously sacrificed for a dozen years — had been cravenly sold out.
For what it’s worth, I’ve long thought the democratization cause is neither plausible nor a vital American interest. Unlike Hicks, I do not believe that the State Department should have been in Benghazi at all — we should never have diplomatic posts in places where we cannot responsibly safeguard them. But my pessimism about the prospects of the mission is a matter separate from the great respect I have — that we all should have — for the courage and dedication of Americans officials, such as Hicks, who have labored to give Muslims overseas a chance for freedom in the sincere belief that doing so promotes our national security.
That is what Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the rest of the cabal betrayed. And for no better reason than that telling the truth about Benghazi would have wounded Obama’s campaign less than two months before Election Day. Bluntly, a jihadist attack in the heart of the “rebel” resistance to Qaddafi made it embarrassingly clear that Obama had not crushed al-Qaeda. It showed that the president’s Libya misadventure had empowered America’s enemies. This the reelection effort could not afford, so the administration used the video — and familiar demagoguery about dread “Islamophobia” — to cover it up.
For many years, the Islamic-democracy project has been a passion of both Bush Republicans and Clinton Democrats. If I were one of them, I’d be pretty damn angry right now.