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The Sticky Wicket in Benghazi and Seal Team Imperialism

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In the parlance of the classic British colonial era, President Obama is faced with a bit of a sticky wicket in Benghazi, Libya. That metaphor, of course, refers to a patch of rough grass making it hard to hit the ball through the wicket in the British sport of cricket. British colonials liked to bring a little of England to the warm climes they colonized and played cricket on native-tendered grass between dealing with unruly wogs and quaffing gin and tonics to fight boredom and malaria.

Obama's little sticky wicket in Benghazi (four dead Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens) comes from the decision to pump in weaponry to support an assortment of militias to "take out" Muammar Ghaddafi, the mentally ill leader of Libya protected by a female militia who the US opposed after they supported him after they had opposed him. (I think that's the correct order.) Ghaddafi was, of course, the inspiration for Admiral General Aladeen, Sacha Baron Cohen's satiric leader in The Dictator.

Ghaddafi was finally ignominiously taken out in the desert by men who naturally humiliated him for a while and made him grovel before they put two into his brainpan. Praise Allah! God is great!

An armed man during the Benghazi consulate attack and the aftermath

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Typically for American preemptive nation-state hits, at this point things got a little murky. As in: Who the heck are these militias we're supporting? The media blitz until this point had the US as the good guys and the Ghaddafi troops as the bad guys. All was well. American leaders had convinced the American media who had convinced the American people that it was good-guys-versus-bad-guys and we Americans were the good guys working with Libyan good guys.

But, then, that pesky problem of Islam crept into the affair, and things quickly got confusing. Some of the militias we presumed were good guys were actually bad guys with strong feelings about Islam. The troublesome fact we suddenly became aware of was that these Muslim bad guys hated Ghaddafi just as much as we did. People started scratching their heads.

At this point, in the midst of a particularly stupid and insidious election season in America, well-meaning and upstanding Americans began to ask: "Why is it these desert barbarians just can't do what is in their obvious best interests and do what we want them to do? Do they have something against democracy? Gee! All they have to do is just look at America and our democracy and follow instructions."

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It does not appear that anyone in the US government, the Libyan government (what there is of one) or the Romney campaign is sure what actually happened on September 11 when the US consulate in Benghazi was attacked. Which is why the Romney gang has been having so much fun with the bloody incident.

Given the realm of dishonesty, secrecy and unmitigated moral darkness an American President must preside over these days, Romney's band of polished thugs know the more confusing and ambiguous something is, the more perception can be manipulated and skewed to the advantage of one position or another. Who gives a damn what he said last week? This is the world of "bullshit" Princeton philosopher Harry Frankfurt writes about in On Bullshit. In our political culture, playing with perception is much more fun than coping with reality. Thus, it tends to always trump the search for truth.

But, then, Romney threw a curve ball and dropped the Benghazi matter in the final debate. Instead, he decided to deny every militaristic, reactionary thing he'd ever said and, like a boxer clutching his opponent through the whole match, agreed with everything Obama has done and said, while he condemned him as a poor Commander In Chief.

The obvious and key fact of the Benghazi affair (the reason Romney may have dropped it in the final debate) is the United States is so out of favor and out of touch in the Benghazi area that our FBI agents can't even get to the city to even begin an investigation of the September 11 attack. That should tell us something. The problem is what it's trying to tell us is something American politicians don't want to think about or address. And because the imperial mantra of American exceptionalism has been drilled into their consumer-addled heads for decades, the American people don't want to hear it either. Americans are about as willing to listen to this reality check message as they are to take a tablespoon of caster oil.

Enter a New Bad Guy

Making this predicament even more interesting is the presence in Benghazi of Ahmed Abu Khattala, the leader of an anti-Ghaddafi militia that is now on our list of bad guys. Khattala is reportedly the prime suspect in the September 11 attack on our consulate. Last week, he appeared publicly in Benghazi in a red fez and sandals on the veranda of a luxury hotel overlooking the Mediterranean regaling reporters from The New York Times and other American media outlets in what can only be described as a case of flipping America the bird.

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Luxury hotel in Benghazi and a strawberry frappe

Sipping a cool strawberry frappe, Mr. Abu Khattala accused the leaders of the United States of America of "playing with the emotions of the American people." Mr. Abu Khattala sipped some more of his strawberry frappe and went on, wondering, "Why is the United States always trying to impose its ideology on everyone else? Why is it always trying to use force to implement its agenda?"

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I'm a 68-year-old American who served in Vietnam as a naive 19-year-old kid. From that moment on, I've been studying and re-thinking what US counter-insurgency war means. I live outside of Philadelphia, where I'm a writer, photographer and (more...)

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