Friday, October 19, 2012

The Unfortunate Case of Benghazi

I am not completely settled as to how this issue fits in the context of my blog. My conviction is to present simple truth for a complex culture. Sometimes, I think, simple truth can still coincide with the truth of the gospel without explicitly mentioning it. In this case, it is my hope that the truth of the gospel - that Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost, and that this truth is constant and the most important announcement in the universe, even within the chaos and the uncertainty of our society, culture, and world - would at least be implicit and God would be glorified. I am preparing a post on how I incorporate Christian faith into a biblical political philosophy that informs my voting and participation in the conversation. That will probably clarify my heart more completely. But this is, for good or bad, some pent up emotion on what is to me a very unfortunate situation that represents a major problem in our country. I don't presume to think I can do much to solve it, but I am deeply thankful for my right to be able to express my opinion about it.

The most unfortunate part of the Benghazi tragedy, in my opinion, is not that there was lack of clarity and mixed messages from the Obama administration in the immediate wake of the attack. This is really bad, but I will listen to the argument that intelligence always comes over time, and initial interpretations are often proved incomplete or outright wrong.

The most unfortunate part was not even that there is dishonesty in what was said and what was known when. There was this. If someone in the Obama administration or in the media insults my intelligence one more time by saying that the President was referring to the specific Benghazi attack, instead of the general concept of terrorism, when he used the phrase “act of terror” in the Rose Garden, I am going to scream. I know the English language and this is not a subjective interpretation of what the context seemed to indicate. It is obvious, and everyone knows it. We are not idiots. Admission of some dishonesty would not be an outright deal breaker. Someone should man up. We are all sinners. Yet, this is not the most unfortunate part.

The most unfortunate part was not even that a home-made YouTube video was blamed for such a significant attack. This is questionable and quite ridiculous. Bear with me as I rant. The fact that we are actually trying to be sensitive to, and give any excuse for, the feelings and offense of radical, irrational terrorists, even while we say “there is never an excuse for violence”, is indeed unfortunate. It seems extremely naive that we actually believe that the problem with the enemy is that they are just thin-skinned, and if we are sensitive to this and just avoid offending them, they will have no excuse to attack us, even though we acknowledge that they should never have an excuse to attack us. Right? It is unfortunate that we seem to think we have to acknowledge equally irrational and hateful people who make videos in their basement or street corners, implying that they are credible enough that we have to publicly discredit them in order to clear the air about where we stand. This is the only way the video is relevant – if we believe that we have to speak for even the irrationality in our own society because even it has an effect on the violence from our enemies, which there should “never be an excuse for”. Is that it? Otherwise the very mention of it is embarrassing, and the lack of prosecution of the creator of such a dangerous video is hypocritical.

If our country is in the situation where You Tube internet videos by irrational extremists and unpatriotic and hypocritical Americans present a viable national security threat, than we are in trouble, and the problems of politicization and cover-up and faulty intelligence don’t amount to a hill of beans. We are going to need scores of Secret Service teams and Special Forces soldiers and intelligence professionals and prosecution attorneys watching YouTube and surfing the web 24 hours a day,  making sure none of our enemies are offended by any possible statement or picture or implication on the massive scope of the interwebs. And then we will have to establish committees or think tanks to come up with some kind of measurable criteria as to what would indeed cause offense to the extent of posing a viable natural security threat. Not only will this completely confuse and limit the positive side of freedom of speech and religion, but it will cost a fortune and remove America’s finest from the front lines of battle, where the enemy is plotting to destroy us. And it will reduce these men and women to video surveillance mall cops who probably will spend (waste) more time finding the next “David After the Dentist” internet video sensation, than performing what their original, ridiculous assignment would have been anyway. No. We are not there yet. Someone please stop the madness.

But all that is not the most unfortunate part of this tragedy. The most unfortunate part is, of course, that 4 Americans, a top level diplomat among them, are dead. Period. And not because of a video or spontaneous violence gone bad, but because of premeditated terrorism that could have been known and should have been prevented or at least thwarted. No matter when it was defined as terrorism and by whom, hardly matters now. It is what it is, and should have been prevented. If we claim to be making progress in the war on terror, this type of tragedy absolutely should not happen, or our claim is premature. This is not a lost battle in the midst of a war we are winning. This is evidence that we are not yet winning, maybe losing, and need to step up our game, correctly define the problem, understand the enemy, and aggressively and competently pursue permanent solutions to protect our people here and around the world. It is alright to apologize for failure in the midst of sincere resolve to prevent the same in the future. The Administration is clear on the latter while being afraid of the former. This is disingenuous

In the end, we do not grieve or fear like those who have no hope. As Christians, and as Americans, let us pray for the families of those who lost their loved ones, that the God of all comfort would comfort them, to comfort others. Let us pray for our enemies, that they will receive Christ and that their unjustifiable hatred would turn to humility and compassion. Let us pray for those who would not pray for their enemies, but instead share the same hatred, that their hearts would be softened. Let us pray for our military and diplomatic personnel, especially those in the direct line of fire, that they would be protected and would put their ultimate trust in a God who saves. Let us pray for our leaders, that until that day they would steward their office honorably and reasonably, and restrain evil and promote good, according to the parameters that have been given them by God and in the Constitution, in the interests of the people. May they be strong and courageous and not shrink back from serious threats, or underestimate or misunderstand them. Let us trust that God is Sovereign and is making all things new, and that peace is only ultimately found in him. And let us obey by participating in the process of democracy for the good of our neighbor and the glory of our God, which in this specific case I strongly believe includes humbly vocalizing opinions about an avoidable and tragic situation that has been ridiculously handled after the fact. I hope that is what I have done.

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