This is the first part of a review of both 9/11, and what took place in Benghazi the same day.
September 11th, 2001 is a day that Americans will never forget. It was before the war in Iraq. It was before the war on terror. It was before anyone cared about the NSA and TSA. It wasn’t the first time the country was at war. This wasn’t even the first time Americans were attacked on their own soil by a foreign threat. 9/11 was different though.
Not only was it the most fatal terrorist attack on US soil, it also marked a turning point that shaped American foreign and domestic policy past, present and future.
I want to make myself very clear. The goal of this article isn’t to take attention away from those that we lost or those that survived. It’s certainly not to take away from the heroes who were born on that day.
However, September 11th marks another heinous terrorist attack as well. One that makes right-wingers’ blood boil and left-wingers change the subject. Despite the fact that they took place 11 years apart, these two events in American history are linked by more than just the same day on a calendar. In order to understand the events that took place in Benghazi, you need to understand America’s crazy post 9/11 geopolitical landscape.
In 2011 freedom was spreading across the Middle East. The Arab Spring was looking promising in terms of bringing democracy to the third world. Countries including Egypt and Yemen had had their dictatorial leaders ousted from power. Another such country was Libya.
However, revolutions are a bloody business. The ousting of a regime such as Gaddafi’s tends to be followed by instability as well as creating a power vacuum in the region, which in turn leads to more bloodshed due to militant groups vying for control.
For those reasons, it’s incredibly difficult for the west to stay out of Middle Eastern countries after they interfere in a region’s politics. That’s why countries like the United States has a tendency to stick around after the dust settles to ensure that the leaders they like come into power.
Within months of the initial revolution, the CIA had a covert presence in Libya – more specifically the city of Benghazi. In March of 2011 ambassador, J Christopher Stevens was named the liaison to the Libyan rebels. Benghazi was a hub for gathering intelligence in the region.
Eventually, the Libyan revolution turned civil war ended. Brutal Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi was murdered by his own people, thus ending the Libyan civil war. Nobody shed a tear for Gaddafi, and the west was no exception. The rebels were backed by not only the US but NATO and the UK as well. People were optimistic about the future of Libya and her people.
As the western powers began to withdraw from the ground, the decision was made by US officials to keep personnel in Benghazi. Among those that stayed was Ambassador Stevens. The CIA and US State Department also remained in order to identify and collect arms and to keep them out of unwanted hands.
2012 was an election year, and the Obama administration was looking good after catching Osama Bin Laden and seemingly ending the war on terror the year before. America was riding high, and it looked as though the US was finally healed from the horrors of 9/11. Back in Libya however, tensions were beginning to rise.
Little did anyone know, one of the most controversial and avoidable terrorist attacks against the United States of America since 9/11 would take place 11 years to the day in Benghazi, Libya.
You can read more from Everett Shapcott at Think Liberty here.