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Peter Van Buren

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It Wasn't Just a Movie -- U.S. Ambassador to Libya Killed

Posted: 09/12/2012 1:55 pm

It wasn't just a movie.

It was less than a year ago that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was videotaped gleefully laughing at the brutal death of then-Libyan leader Gaddafi. "We came, we saw, he died!" giggled the Secretary of State like a drunk school girl on the sidelines of a national television interview.

It was, in large part, the military intervention of the US that brought about Gaddafi's death and the "liberation" of Libya. Gaddafi was evil. He had people tortured and had opponents killed. He was a dictator. The common wisdom on the Internet, and inside the State Department, is that while "unfortunate," a guy like Gaddafi had it coming. The same logic applied to the US' gunning down of bin Laden and our drone killings of any number of terrorist celebs, including several American citizens in Yemen.

With the tragic news that US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and several other Americans were killed in an attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, one wonders if Hillary is still laughing.

It appears that the Ambassador was in Benghazi for the ribbon-cutting for an "American Corner." An American Corner is, in State's own words, a "friendly, accessible space, open to the public, which provides current and reliable information about the United States through bilingual book and magazine collections, films and documentaries, poster exhibitions, and guides for research on the United States." Ironic of course that Ambassador Stevens and his people died in what was nothing more than a propaganda gesture, a Corner that says happy things about America so that Libyans will love us. As if books and magazine could erase a policy of violence and killing by the US across the Middle East.

I mean no disrespect to the dead, and mourn with their loved ones. A few years ago it was my family stationed abroad at an American Consulate, so I know too well the tight feeling in my gut wondering what will happen, will someone die today simply because of where they work. Making light over the death of anyone is disgraceful.

America's actions abroad, particularly when we kill people because we do not like what they say or do, have consequences that are long and often tragic. Secondary, tertiary effects. I hate killing. I am not justifying any killing nor am I gleeful over Ambassador Stevens and his colleagues' deaths.

I am instead offended by US leaders who find happiness in the death of others for political reasons, and then seem shocked and surprised when it is visited on our own. Drone strikes call forth retaliatory terror acts. Terror acts beget more drone strikes. Eye for an eye. Live by the sword.

It is not about a movie. The anti-Islam movie was just today's trigger in Libya, was just the most recent spark to a smoldering flame. Behind the easy, casual "oh, it was our free speech that angered them" we seem to forget what filmmaker James Spione knows, that the invasions of multiple Muslim countries, the killing and wounding of hundreds of thousands of civilians to "free them," the displacement of millions more as refugees, the escalating drone attacks, the torture and rendition, Guantanamo itself as a symbol of all that is wrong with our policies, the propping up of corrupt regimes in Bahrain, Saudi and until we changed political directions, Libya and Syria, the relentless horrific violence unleashed year after year after year by America's military. Let's at least be honest about the miasma of hatred we've created that is the true context for this horrible incident.

Indeed, the US rendered human beings into Qaddafi's Libya for torture just a few years ago. Some of those who were rendered and tortured under US sponsorship now hold key leadership and political positions in the Libyan government.

It wasn't just a movie.

America needs a policy in the Middle East that is not based on killing if we ever want the killing to stop.

 

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