Blowback of the Ugliest Kind: The Lessons No One Will Learn from Benghazi

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Al-Jazeera-English

Blowback of the Ugliest Kind: The Lessons No One Will Learn from Benghazi

"Does Mideast Democracy Complicate Diplomacy?"

This was the headline of the NY Times' "Room for Debate" section in the wake of the attack that killed the US Ambassador to Libya in Benghazi. Not "Is Arming an Insurgency that Includes Anti-American Jihadis Who Will Unquestionably Wind Up Attacking You a Good Idea?" Not "Does Continuing to Support Undemocratic Monarchs and Dictators in a Region Where People Already Are Angry at US for Decades of Doing So Complicate Diplomacy?"

And certainly not "Did Tens of Billions of Dollars in US Aid to Mubarak While His Government Engaged in and Supported Systematic Violence Against Egyptian Copts Just Come Back to Haunt US in Libya?" Readers wondering "Why Do Religions that Preach Love, Peace, Justice and Forgiveness Seem to Propagate So Much Hatred, War, Injustice and Revenge?" were left to search newspapers of lesser renown to find the beginnings of an answer to this most pertinent question.

Of course, there is absolutely no justification for the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and several of his entourage as well as Libyan security personnel. And yes, the attacks, and the larger anti-American protests in which they took place, remind us about the powerful strain of unchecked and often unthinking - certainly uncritical - anger and revenge that defines Islam for millions of its adherents.

The unrestrained anger against a YouTube clip has even led to outrage among some Syrian activists, with one tweeting that "the only thing that seems to mobilise the Arab street is a movie, a cartoon or an insult, but not the pool of blood in Syria".

But if the world's paper of record is going to ask questions in the wake of an attack like this week's in Libya, surely it could have done better than this.

There's more... Read the full article at Al-Jazeera

Mark LeVine

Mark LeVine is a professor of history at the University of California: Irvine, and author, most recently, of Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the soul of Islam (Random House 2008) and Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989 (Zed Books, 2009).

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