PostScript: Robinson and good questions

January 25, 2013
Hillary Clinton testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (Linda Davidson / The Washington Post)
Hillary Clinton testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

Apparently, after the concussions, the elections, the table-pounding Senate hearings and the appearance by the new, less controversial secretary of state nominee, Eugene Robinson still has questions he wants someone to ask Hillary Clinton about the Middle East crises and the Obama administration’s foreign policy — questions that probably no one will ask. That is because we’ve all been caught up instead in the much less complicated matters of who could embarrass whom domestically, too busy to pay any attention to the bigger, scarier mess surrounding what al-Qaeda is turning into and what we can be/should be/are doing about it before, say, one or more of our cities is reduced to rubble. Eek, if PostScript may say.

And eek, the commenters on Robinson’s column say, too. If it were possible to keep legislators’ interest up past the point at which they are embarrassed by and/or have embarrassed their political foes, here are the hearings commenters would like to see at least attempted:

edbyronadams

In our support for the European bombing missions in Libya, we helped create the power vacuum that led to Benghazi. The entire bombing of … [Gaddafi's] forces is the policy decision that goes unexamined. The Republicans were just as brain dead on the issue as the administration at the time so they can’t score many political points by questioning it now.

erinoconnell

Libya raises real, serious issues about what happens when the world deposes a dictator and leaves a power vacuum in his wake. If Republicans were serious about getting to the bottom of the Libyan attack, they might consider investigating (1) the identities of the parties who obtained … [Gaddafi's] weapons; and (2) the role of North African Al Qaeda affiliates in the current Libyan power struggle. Both of these might hold important lessons for those (Republicans) who think it is a good idea to rush into Syria and take out chemical-weapons-owning Assad. Stop wasting time on flawed talking points.

gmt1e6

Growing up with the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, Panama Invasion, Grenada etc, etc, I can believe a political appointee, high ranking staffer or career Govt Employee came up with lame idea, excuse and then said, what? They don’t believe us??? How come three simple questions can’t get answered 1) To Susan Rice, who contacted you to go on tv and spew these lies? Name the Person and Govt position they fill, 2) To Hillary Clinton, why didn’t you immediately get help from Air Force, Navy or Marine air wings? 3) To Sec Def: Do you really expects us to believe there wasn’t state of the art Comm gear available to communicate the problem and that no one was tracking real time?

Carl Sandburg

I question, true or not, why the Dems haven’t played the ‘classifed’ card. If the reasons for apparent dereliction or abandonment of assets was really the result of a classified operation, then why not say only that.

RichmondGiant

I agree with Mr. Robinson that the GOP’s focus on Benghazi is misplaced. But Mr. Robinson seems to be overlooking key issues that greatly affect our defense through what he acknowledges is a very troubled region of the world. We seemed doomed to repeat the errors made in Benghazi again because we are losing ourselves in partisan attacks/apologetics. 1) How is it the US relied on an untested militia with dubious loyalties to provide defense for our installation? 2) Why did the US not evacuate it’s members from an obviously unstable area if it wasn’t willing to properly defend the facility? Other Western powers had done so? Did we have a lapse in intelligence information or a lapse in judgment? 3) What are the security arrangements for our other embassies throughout the region? 4) Why was the site not properly cleaned after the attack? Press had no problem wandering around the remains and picking up sensitive information. Why didn’t our government? What information did the terrorists get in the remains? 5) We now know that the ambassador did indeed request additional security – but was denied. Why and by whom? Certainly not Secretary Clinton. But some middle manager in State bears a fair bit of responsibility for the debacle. If the request was denied due to funding, was Congress approached to increase funding and they blew it? Until we seriously discuss these issues, it’s a problem that’s going to hit us again. We can, and should demand better.

RichardCollins

If there’s no understanding of what went wrong, how are future incidents made less likely?

Why did Ms. Clinton and her staff miss the opportunity to question procedures when State spent $80 million for a consulate in Afghanistan that was never used due to its security deficiencies? Why didn’t State start looking at its internal processes based on that flawed decision? Could Ms. Clinton reconcile the claim of limited resources with the fact that 2 months before Benghazi she traveled to Alexandria, Egypt to reopen a consulate there. How did State find the resources for that? Why did State decide it was more important to expend resources there rather than in Benghazi?

The objective should be to identify shortcomings and make improvements – that’s the best way to avoid having to meet with relatives of the deceased.

PostScript has tried to come up with some way to snark around the commenters’ points, but so far is completely stumped, for which she takes full responsibility and apologizes. The time is ripe for an Internet Commenter Foreign Relations Committee, with subcommittees for more effective snarky commentary and pictures of baby animals so we feel better by the time the hearings are over, no matter how scary they get.

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Stephen Stromberg | January 25, 2013