Benghazi!!! Benghazi!!! Benghazi!!!

The New York Times has just finished a nearly year-long investigation of the attach on the consulate in Benghazi, and found, “No evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault.”

Months of months of faux-Republican outrage, all for nothing:

Months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there and its context, turned up no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault. The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi. And contrary to claims by some members of Congress, it was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.

A fuller accounting of the attacks suggests lessons for the United States that go well beyond Libya. It shows the risks of expecting American aid in a time of desperation to buy durable loyalty, and the difficulty of discerning friends from allies of convenience in a culture shaped by decades of anti-Western sentiment. Both are challenges now hanging over the American involvement in Syria’s civil conflict.

The attack also suggests that, as the threats from local militants around the region have multiplied, an intensive focus on combating Al Qaeda may distract from safeguarding American interests.

Additionally, it appears that concerns about supporting US private investing in Libya led the State Department to soft pedal security concerns:

The diplomat, David McFarland, a former congressional aide who had never before met with a Libyan militia leader, left feeling agitated, according to colleagues. But the meeting did not shake his faith in the prospects for deeper involvement in Libya. Two days later, he summarized the meeting in a cable to Washington, describing a mixed message from the militia leaders.

Despite “growing problems with security,” he wrote, the fighters wanted the United States to become more engaged “by ‘pressuring’ American businesses to invest in Benghazi.”

Of course, the militiamen were naive. The US does not pressure American businesses to invest, they pressure the locals to give sweetheart deals to American businessmen, but the theory is similar.

Perhaps the State Department should reorient its priorities.

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