Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Very Remarkable October Day

Today, two events are being re-visited: the attack in Ottawa last October 22nd and the deaths in Benghazi.  The Canadians are getting together in downtown Ottawa to mark the loss of life caused by a lone gunman and to mark the response of Canada to that event.  The American politicians are turning their focus to the question of who to blame for the Benghazi affair.

As a newly dual citizen, I cannot help but think that my new homeland is responding far better than my old one to acts of violence.  Yes, there is Bill C-51 and some awful xenophobia that tainted the campaign.  But the voters put more support behind those that rejected fearing/hating Muslims, and the new government is going to reverse the over-reactions of the last government.

In the US, the hearings on Benghazi are very much a partisan affair, and we knew that before GOP officials made the mistake of being transparent about it.  As my co-authors and I are starting a long term project on oversight, I do think that Congress has a very important role to play in examining past administration behavior and shedding light on failures.  However, this particular effort seems to support one of our initial hypotheses: partisanship is bad for oversight.  We are not going to learn from from the speechifying by the legislatures or by the target of the hearings--Hillary Clinton.  It will all look like "he said, she said" because no one seems to be focused on getting at the truth.

The truth has to start with this basic reality: diplomats die.  If we put diplomats in dangerous places, some will get hurt.  Many diplomats died when Reagan was President and when GW Bush was President.  This does not mean the events in Benghazi could not have been avoided, but we need to have some perspective and ask the right questions rather than focusing on blame-casting.

But as I was asked on twitter this morning:

Well, that is something that Dave, Phil, and I will be exploring over the next couple of years.  I don't have an answer today.  All I do know is that I would rather watch the Canadians as they memorialize those killed last October than watch the Americans pick over the bones of the folks killed in Benghazi.

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