VIEWPOINT: Politicizing The Benghazi Attacks

Our guest blogger is Joel Rubin, director of policy and government affairs at the Ploughshares Fund

The killing of four American patriots in Benghazi, Libya last month was an act of terror. Those four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, represented the best of our country. They put their lives on the line to advance American interests in a volatile region. They deserved the support of their government back home.

Instead of getting that support, their deaths are being used as a partisan attack on President Obama, part of a false narrative that the president failed them. What has failed them is our political system. Rather than supporting a serious, nonpartisan investigation into what took place and what went wrong, waiting to get all the facts out, conservatives are trying to affix blame for their deaths for political advantage.

This is how some conservatives use terrorist attacks against America. They blame their political opponents. We have seen this movie before, in the run up to the war in Iraq. Back then, conservatives argued that anyone who opposed invading Iraq was equivalent to being soft of terror, and implicitly, an appeaser of Osama bin-Laden.


Their public extortion of a national tragedy — the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks — was used to partisan advantage to start a war whose rationale was deeply flawed and whose results were disastrous for our country.

It is happening again with the Benghazi attack. Now, some conservatives are using the Libya incident to characterize the President as weak and soft on terrorism.

In fact, many of those conservatives making these attacks were actually the ones who went weak on bin-Laden, preferring to ignore him in Afghanistan and Pakistan to go after terrorist phantoms in Iraq.

Who would you trust then, to get the terrorists who killed these four patriotic Americans in Benghazi? The people who got bin-Laden or the people who forgot bin-Laden?

What this desperate political maneuvering demonstrates is a deep insecurity by conservatives about their national security credentials. Obama’s actual response to the riots in the Arab world last month demonstrates strength, not weakness. Obama worked with our allies in the Middle East to shut these riots down. This is not the unraveling of Obama’s Middle East policy; on the contrary, it’s the demonstration of its effectiveness. Facts like this matter.


And so the proverbial waters edge, where partisan politics do not to wade into foreign policy but instead stand in unity when terror strikes, has been violated. It’s a shame. Just after that first fateful September 11th tragedy 11 years ago, the country united when Democratic Senate Leader Tom Daschle embraced Republican President George W. Bush. Regretfully, this September 11th, conservative leaders viciously attacked the president during a time of national tragedy to the detriment of us all.