A year after the deadly attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, President Barack Obama’s pledge to bring the perpetrators to justice has yet to be fulfilled. Numerous people who participated in the assault have been identified, and some sealed indictments have been issued.
But no one has been taken into custody.
That’s an understandable cause of frustration for Republicans in Congress as well as some military and law enforcement officials. Some wonder why the administration does not push the Libyan government harder to take action against the suspects or the Ansar al-Sharia militia, which joined the assault. Others say Obama should launch a unilateral U.S. raid, like that which killed Osama bin Laden.
In fact, there are good reasons for prudence. Setting aside the reality that Obama already has placed U.S. forces on alert for possible action in Syria, an American action in Libya could have a high political cost, even if it succeeded. It could also further destabilize a moderate regime that already is struggling to keep the country’s economy functioning and complete the construction of a new democratic political system.
What Libya needs from Washington is not a special forces raid but much more help in building a state.
After helping to liberate Libya, the Obama administration and its European allies were too quick to walk away, leaving a shattered country to find its own way. If they wish to avoid another Arab state descending into chaos, they need to come back.
The Washington Post (Sept. 12)