Here's What Obama Should Say About The Benghazi Attack

As the Obama Administration continues to struggle in finding a way to answer critics of its response to the attacks on the US Embassy in Libya, they would be wise to give up on finding blame and talking about intelligence failures. The real story is about context. This attack did not occur in a vacuum and only by placing the daily events in the Middle East in the proper -- and wider -- frame of the historic transitions underfoot, will the president be able to really address people's concerns. If President Obama is asked about these events during tonight's debate, may I suggest a response like this:

The attack on our Embassy was a tragedy and we take every attack on American personnel overseas incredibly seriously. Ambassador Stevens knowingly risked his safety and his life to take up the post in Libya because he understood that we are the midst of a truly historic time of transformation in a region that has for far too long been plagued by dictatorship, repression, and violence. This past, however, does not need to determine the future of the Arab world. We have witnessed more democratic transitions in the region over the last few years than we’d seen during the previous three hundred. Millions of people now live under elected governments and when a tiny minority of extremists raided our embassy, it was because the terrorists are growing weaker, not stronger. We saw the residents of Benghazi literally run them out of the city and make moving signs of solidarity with the American diplomats they had come to understand as key supporters of their liberation.

This attack – while terrible – must be understood as but one small part of a much larger story of regional transformation. A transformation that not only benefits the 300 million people of the Middle East, but is an incredibly positive development for American values and interests. The Libyan people just elected their own prime minister. The freely elected President in Egypt is currently working with diverse constituencies to draft a new constitution. Al-Qaeda has been dismantled. We have assembled an unprecented global coalition to isolate Iran and apply crippling sanctions. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are being responsibly ended. There is no doubt that we are safer and better positioned in the region now than we were five years ago. More must be done to consolidate the recent gains and to help these young democracies realize their full aspirations of becoming open and prosperous countries.  And more will be done. To redouble our efforts today would be the best way to honor the memory of those fallen diplomats and it is the course that I will undertake over the next four years.