Victor Davis Hanson starts his latest National Review Online column with the assertion that “Almost everything we have been told about Libya over the last two years is untrue.” Then Hanson stops pulling his punches.
A free Libya was supposed to be proof of President Obama’s enlightened “reset” Middle East policy. When insurgency broke out there, the United States joined France and Great Britain in bombing Moammar Qaddafi out of power — and supposedly empowering a democratic Arab Spring regime. Not a single American life was lost.
Libyans, like most in the Arab world, were supposed to appreciate the new, enlightened American foreign policy. Obama’s June 2009 Cairo speech had praised Islam and apologized for the West. A new “lead from behind” multilateralism was said to have superseded George W. Bush’s neo-imperialist interventions of the past.
Obama’s mixed racial identity and his father’s Muslim heritage would also win over the hearts and minds of Libyans after the Qaddafi nightmare. During this summer’s Democratic convention, Obama supporters trumpeted the successes of his Middle East policy: Osama bin Laden dead, al-Qaeda defanged, and Arab Spring reformers in place of dictators.
To keep that shining message viable until the November election, the Obama administration and the media had been willing to overlook or mischaracterize all sorts of disturbing events. We had asked for a United Nations resolution for humanitarian aid and a no-fly zone to intervene in Libya, but then deliberately exceeded it by bombing Qaddafi’s forces — after bypassing the U.S. Congress in favor of a go-ahead from the Arab League.
Libya was not so much liberated as descending into the chaos of tribal payback. Former Qaddafi supporters and African mercenaries were executed by those we helped. Islamists began consolidating power, desecrating a British military cemetery and driving out Westerners.
On the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, a radical Islamist hit team with heavy weapons stormed the American consulate in Benghazi, killing Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.