Some Lessons From Benghazi

| Tue Oct. 16, 2012 1:21 AM EDT

In the wake of Hillary Clinton's statement that she bears responsibility for security at U.S. embassies, Blake Hounshell makes a few salient points. Here's #1:

It's a bit rich for all these people to suddenly be arguing that Libya is the most important story in the world after ignoring it for months. It reeks of political opportunism. Did Darrell Issa show any sign that he cared one iota about Libya before the morning of Sept. 12, 2012? Did Mitt Romney?

Nope. I happen to agree with Adam Serwer that Republican investigations into the Benghazi attack are legitimate even if they're politically inspired, but I also agree with him that these particular investigations have been ineffective precisely because they're so transparently partisan. There's just no evidence that Republicans really care about embassy security, only that they want to score some points in the runup to an election.

And here's point #8:

The United States can't turn its diplomatic installations into armed camps. U.S. diplomats are going to need to take risks from time to time, and many of them are fully prepared to so. That said, it seems inevitable that this tragedy is going to have precisely the effect the State Department fears: more restrictions on diplomats' movements, more fortress-like facilities, and less interaction with the locals. American diplomacy will be the worse for it — and that will ultimately make us less safe.

I hope this point gets wide attention. Sometimes stuff happens, but that doesn't inevitably mean that a huge flurry of new rules have to be put in place. Unfortunately, that's usually what happens, and it's usually exactly the wrong thing to do.