Here's a first. A balanced guide to the Benghazi situation

22 May 2013

Now, there's nothing more the GOP like than pointing the finger at Obama and his administration, branding his 'liberal socialist policy' the detriment of the United States. Similarly there is nothing liberals like more than pointing out how Republicans target Obama and playing themselves as the persecuted party. It's a situation that has created deadlock on Capitol Hill for around 6 years now, and it's showing no symptoms of subsiding.


The latest feud (I say latest, but it's been on-going since the 11th September 2012) is over the ‘Benghazi situation'. A situation, which to be honest, very few people care about and fewer understand fully.

The basics are that a heavily armed group (consisting of around 150 gunmen), attacked a diplomatic consulate, killing four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, wounding a further ten.

The fundamental controversy stems from the fact this this attack occurred just weeks before an election- so plenty of political gain was at stake. For a poll-lagging Mitt Romney it was a chance to show up Obama as a weak leader who was conciliatory to Al-Qaida, playing on the culture of terror fear in the US. For Obama it was about branding this attack as terrorism swiftly, but not alienating liberals by going too far such as declaring all Muslims as terrorists, or starting a war.

As it panned out, the 'Benghazi factor' was negligible; with the extent to which it affected voter’s choice being so insignificant it didn't even feature on exit poll questioning. Obama, as we well know, went on to win another term (which has started slowly- a topic for another day), seemingly ending this altercation.

But still, the US is embroiled in this controversy as 'a cover up', with the GOP suggesting that the State Department had prior knowledge of the attack, yet chose not act upon it. Additionally, they question the spontaneous nature of the protest and subsequent American attack, which the administration says was in response to an anti-Islam video in the US.

So right now, 'investigations' in Congress are on-going, revealing details of further information related to the scandal from witnesses and other key figures. In truth, the findings of this half-a-year long investigation have brought very little light to the table. The main thing going on is what I like to call a 'media cold war'.

On one side, Fox are toting the 'I' word (impeachment), upping political tension, destroying trust in Obama and Clinton. On the other, MSNBC are ruing the 'Fox spin' on the situation, with other notable liberals, such as Bill Maher and Jon Stewart comically demonstrating the lack of any tangible evidence that the 'prosecution' actually possess. 

So, after digging deeply under 'war of words' I've come up with my own conclusion.

Benghazi was a freak tragedy- originating not with this anti-Islam video, but more so the fundamental disdain of US imperialism and culture. The outcome in Washington has not been one of bipartisan condemnation and mutual sadness; but an attempt from both sides to sabotage the other and use the situation for political gain. 

For Republicans, an election has just been lost and public support for Obama and his administration needs to be quashed. Obama targeted Romney early on in his campaign, branding him a 'quintessential brylcreem executive', a description he just couldn't shake. Republicans are trying their own hand at this, trying to brand Democrat favourite Hilary Clinton (who appears at this stage as the only feasible candidate for the next election) as weak in international affairs, as well as a scandalous liar. 

Democrats are not innocent in this all. Clearly there is more to the situation than meets the eye, yet no new information is being released by the administration- Congress Democrats are trying to wash over details- allowing the blame game to continue.

At the end of the day, partisanship is the winner. The feud is fuelling the fire for another partisan election. Will the narrative of the 2014 and 2016 elections be written along these lines? It's too early to tell, but from what I can gauge, public interest in Benghazi is far below the interest of the media, who yet again stoke the fire of partisanship, preventing meaningful and necessary change from occurring in Washington.

By Adam Isaacs

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