Victor Davis Hanson
Recommend this article

Almost everything we have been told about Libya over the last two years is untrue.

A free Libya was supposed to be proof of President Obama's enlightened reset Middle East policy. When insurgency broke out there, the United States joined France and Great Britain in bombing Muammar Gadhafi out of power -- and supposedly empowering a democratic Arab Spring. Not a single American life was lost.

Libyans, like most in the Arab World, were supposed to appreciate the new enlightened American foreign policy. Obama's June 2009 Cairo speech had praised Islam and apologized for the West. A new "lead from behind" multilateralism was said to have superseded George W. Bush's neo-imperialist interventions of the past.

Obama's mixed-racial identity and his father's Muslim heritage would also win over the hearts and minds of Libyans after the Gadhafi nightmare. During this summer's Democratic convention, Obama supporters trumpeted the successes of his Middle East policy: Osama bin Laden dead, al-Qaeda defanged and Arab Spring reformers in place of dictators.

To keep that shining message viable until the November election, the Obama administration and the media had been willing to overlook or mischaracterize all sorts of disturbing events. We had asked for a United Nations resolution for humanitarian aid and a no-fly zone to intervene in Libya, but then deliberately exceeded it by bombing Gadhafi's forces -- after bypassing the U.S. Congress in favor of a go-ahead from the Arab League.

Libya was not so much liberated as descending into the chaos of tribal payback. Former Gadhafi supporters and African mercenaries were executed by those we helped. Islamists began consolidating power, desecrating a British military cemetery and driving out Westerners.

On the 11th anniversary of 9/11, a radical Islamist hit team with heavy weapons stormed the American consulate in Benghazi, killing Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

In response, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, National Intelligence Director James Clapper and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice desperately insisted that the murders were a one-time, ad hoc demonstration gone awry, without much larger significance. Supposedly, a few Muslim outliers -- inflamed over one American's anti-Islamic Internet video -- had overreacted and stormed the consulate. Such anger was "natural," assured the president.

Recommend this article

Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.