From what we have learned of this man since he was killed, it is clear that he was extremely courageous. He stole into Benghazi in April 2011 on a cargo ship to serve as chief US liaison officer to the rebel forces fighting Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. He did the business of the US government in makeshift offices and moved from safe house to safe house under what can only be considered dire conditions of combat.
But did he understand the forces he was unleashing?
Stevens arrived in Benghazi at an early phase of US involvement in the rebellion against Gaddafi, a former US foe who had been neutered since 2004. But even then it was clear that the rebels with whom he worked included jihadist fighters associated with al-Qaida. Their significance became obvious when just after the regime fell in November 2011, rebel forces foisted the flag of al-Qaida over the courthouse in Benghazi.
Did Stevens understand what this meant? Perhaps he did. But his boss, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, certainly didn't. Following Tuesday's attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Clinton said, "Today, many Americans are asking - indeed, I asked myself - how could this happen? How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction? This question reflects just how complicated and, at times, how confounding the world can be."
Clinton, the bewildered stewardess of US foreign policy, then proclaimed with utter certainty that there is nothing to be concerned about. "We must be clear-eyed, even in our grief. This was an attack by a small and savage group - not the people or government of Libya," she said.
Of course, what she failed to mention was that after the rebels felled Gaddafi's regime - with US support - they began imposing Islamic law over large swathes of the country.
Clinton was not the only senior US official who didn't understand why Stevens and three other Americans were murdered or why the US Consulate in Benghazi was reduced to a smoldering ruin.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, thinks that the party responsible for the Muslim violence against the US on the anniversary of September 11 is a kook in Florida who enjoys saying nasty things about Islam.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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