Benghazi Attacks May Be Sign of Larger Issues

The attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens may also reveal the true instability of the new Libyan government

By Stephanie Chuang
|  Wednesday, Sep 12, 2012  |  Updated 8:59 PM PDT
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Christopher Stevens grew up in the Bay Area and attended UC Hastings and UC Berkeley. He played tennis at Piedmont High in the 1970s.

Christopher Stevens grew up in the Bay Area and attended UC Hastings and UC Berkeley. He played tennis at Piedmont High in the 1970s.

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Raw Video: Former Cal Roommate Talks about Slain Ambassador

Steven McDonald, who went to UC Berkeley with slain U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, talks about his former roommate. He describes Stevens as "positive" and "undeterred."
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The political implications of Tuesday’s attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed an American ambassador and three American diplomats are drumming up concern here at home.

“It’s an unsettled country and that makes it even more important to realize that you have to take certain protections.”

Stanford University Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Thomas Henriksen said the deadly attacks in Benghazi are revealing how unstable Libya is, and perhaps how weak the new leadership is, as well.

“It’s going to have a negative impact, at least initially because the United States will be very wary of Libya and very wary of the fact are they being told one thing by the government that wants to cozy up, wants American money and yet on other hand, are they encouraging elements or at least giving them a certain tolerance to operate?” Henriksen said. “We’ve seen that in Egypt where the government will say one thing in English to us and then another thing in Arabic to its followers and other people in the world.”

Stanford Center on International Conflict and Negotiation Co-Director Allen Weimer said Tuesday’s deadly attacks reveal Libya as a failed state led by a weak new government. He adds this could lead to a troubling trend, especially dangerous for the U.S.

“Terrorist groups operating in a country where there’s no control. Islamists who might use Libya as a new Afghanistan basis for new terrorist operations.”

He believes one of the top concerns was the demands and reaction by the leaders in Egypt.

“Calling on the U.S. to condemn the Americans who have engaged in critical speech toward muslims, or hateful speech, and it really reflects very deep widespread unrest and skepticism and even hostility toward the US.”

The attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens may also reveal the true instability of the new Libyan government. Stevens had been a supporter of the rebels’ fight to overthrow Qaddafi. Henriksen warns the U.S. cannot lose sight or focus of what happened, especially as we go deeper into the campaign season.

“We can’t simply say we’re going to take a break for our election. We can’t simply say we’re going to leave it alone , walk away, and hope it doesn’t bother us. We tried that back in 1990s and we got 9-11 as a payback.”

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