Bob Barr

In the broadest sense, policy makers in Washington fail to understand the deep-seated religious zeal through which many Middle Easterners – including some of those educated in the West -- view their society and the world. They also appear not to comprehend that allegiances among many Arabs are based not so much on notions of political solidarity, profession, or the many other indices of “identity” familiar to us in western countries, but rather on tribal customs and background. The nature and use of violence – while well-known to virtually every culture in the world -- occupies a peculiar place in Arab culture that must first be understood and then forcefully and consistently defended against.

In a more focused sense, the Obama Administration seems to have made almost every mistake capable of being made, on the ground in Libya. Everything went wrong – from the failure to properly evaluate and disseminate relevant intelligence data (not “actionable” but “relevant” intelligence) to the physical aspects of knowing where your people are and maintaining communication with them during an emergency. With all the technology available to the United States of America, in Libya or anywhere else on the face of the earth, imagine “losing” an Ambassador inside a building controlled by our own government.

In fact, imagine an American ambassador placing himself – or allowing his staff to place him -- in such a situation in an area in which violence is clearly predicted and should have been expected, and then being taken to a “safe” house which location and layout was already known to well-armed assailants.

It is not difficult to chronicle numerous other mistakes made by our government in assessing the prelude to the violence last week in Cairo and Benghazi, and then elsewhere. Why, for example, do we rely still in such countries as these on local security personnel to provide the “first line” of defense? Why do we not anticipate violence ensuing from actions almost identical to earlier episodes that precipitated violence – does Washington really believe Arab culture has changed in the months since an idiot “preacher” in Florida threatened to stage a Quran burning? Why apparently did we not equip a “safe house” in an area known to harbor violent extremists, with the basic back-up generators and individual gas-mask protection devices now required in virtually every major federal government building in our country?

The list goes on and on. And all this Administration does is send its emissaries out to blame a film maker in California; hoping that by avoiding accountability it will avoid defeat at the polls. And as Washington dithers, families mourn and the world burns.

Bob Barr

Bob Barr represented Georgia’s 7th district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 -2003 and as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia from 1986-1990.