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Veja, Brazil

Behind the Facade: Obama’s
Great Libyan Scandal


By Caio Blinder

There is a greater political scandal in the context of Libya. The scandal is in the 'day after.'

Translated By Jane Dorwart

17 May 2013

Edited by Kath­leen Weinberger


Brazil - Veja - Original Article (Portuguese)

In the trinity of scandals that have plagued President Obama, the first was Benghazi — the case of the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, 2012 on the U.S. diplomatic mission in the Libyan city, which resulted in the death of the American ambassador and another three people. Benghazi exploded during the electoral campaign of last year and continues to be the most convoluted issue, with the government minimizing the impact and the Republicans maximizing it. The other scandals are the tapping of the journalists' telephones for the Associated Press and the targeted auditing of the IRS, which placed conservative groups under a higher level of scrutiny.

The debate about the government's response is extremely legitimate (as much as is the question about the lack of security in the diplomatic mission in such a dangerous location, combined with the contorted rhetoric of the government in explaining what happened in the heat of the electoral campaign). Sorry for the pun, but this scandal was more smoke than fire.

However, there is a greater political scandal in the context of Libya. I personally was in favor of the Western intervention in Libya in 2011, which culminated in the fall and savage death of the dictator Moammar Gadhafi. The scandal is in the "day after." It lies in the lack of enthusiasm from the Obama administration toward contributing in a resolute manner to the reconstruction of Libya.

Up until now, the government on duty in Tripoli has lacked policies to control the country, which is bristling with militias. Rebel groups continue to be armed in open defiance of the state. Parliament submitted to brigands* who had circled the Ministry of Justice and Public Relations, demanding legislation which would deny public employment to those who had held high positions in the government of Gadhafi, who was in power for four decades.

Destroying an infamous regime is just the first phase in the long march to reconstruction — and some of them, such as the regime of Bashar al-Assad, are hard and very atrocious in their fall. Obama never was enthusiastic about humanitarian interventions; his strategic design is to have an American presence in the Middle East. Libya was an accident on the course of this trajectory. It happened and demanded responsibility. But contributing to the stability of a country is expensive and takes time.

Max Boot, one of my favorite conservative strategists, goes to the point. Taken by the "Iraq syndrome," Obama always believed having a force to stabilize Libya would be the first step into a quagmire and would not contribute to the redemption of the country. His government left the country alone without support. The Republicans did not fault Obama for doing so, as the party base is averse to the concept of "nation building." They prefer to keep their attention on the facade of the problem, which is Benghazi.

Using a phrase from a song, the question for Obama is: "If it was just to undo, why was it done?"**

*Translator's Note: By brigands the author is referring to militia.
**Translator's Note: This refers to the following song lyric:

"At times I want to believe but cannot/ And it all is complete nonsense/ And I question God: Listen, friend/ If it was all to undo, why was it done?"

“Às vezes quero crer mas não consigo/ É tudo uma total insensatez/ Aí pergunto a Deus: escute, amigo/ se foi pra desfazer, por que é que fez?”
— Vinicius de Moraes



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