I’d strongly recommend the New York Times’ long article on the attack on the US embassy in Benghazi. It’s not that any particular lesson is learned. The US government’s early claim that the riot was inspired by an internet film slandering Muhammed turns out to be not quite true but not quite false either; the claim of some Republican politicians that the riot was in fact a well-planned Al Quaeda attack turns out to be quite wrong. What becomes clear is that craziness dominated, and dominates still, in Libya. The man who quite probably led the attack is said by many who know him to be mentally unstable; and yet many of the same people are quite prepared to defend him. Amid the madness of mad men the US–CIA, State Department, military–all seem to have been naively optimistic, thinking that they could talk sense and build toward democracy.

Reluctantly I am led to think that it is fortunate we have stayed mostly out of Syria. If the Islamists there bear any resemblance to the Islamists in Libya, nothing good can come.


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