The attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, which killed four U.S. diplomats, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, is the latest example of tragic blowback from the U.S. government’s interventionist foreign policy in the Islamic world. That it happened on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, an even more severe example of such blowback, is a cruel irony.
After 9/11, President George W. Bush told us that Islamist terrorists attack us for “our freedoms.” This contradicted the conclusion of his own Defense Science Board and other expert opinion — including that of the perpetrator of those attacks, Osama bin Laden — that al-Qaeda attacked us for our foreign policy of intervening indiscriminately in Muslim lands.
The enduring lack of introspection on the part of the American government and people about the ill effects of those needless interventions leads to their continuation and consequent unpleasant blowback. Unfortunately, the killing of American personnel in Libya and the attacks on and violent protests at U.S. diplomatic facilities in 20 Islamic countries are examples of this payback.
At the time, critics of the overthrow of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi rightfully asked during the process exactly who made up the opposition the U.S. was supporting and what kind of government would replace him. They held out the possibility of post-Gaddafi instability, tribal warfare, and maybe even an Islamist takeover of the country.
The attack on the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Libya is an example of that instability even in an Islamic country with relatively favorable feelings toward America. The new Libyan government was too weak to protect U.S. diplomats and actually blamed the United States for not evacuating its personnel sooner.
Obviously, some Libyan factions aren’t very grateful for the help of Western air power in Gaddafi’s overthrow and continuing Western aid.
However, some would say that it was the Internet film insulting Islam that caused worldwide anti-American violence, not U.S. intervention. Yet the film was only the trigger, and the real underlying issue is U.S. and Western meddling in Islamic lands and culture.