AUDIO RELEASE: Violence in Libya (**Updated**)

Home / / AUDIO RELEASE: Violence in Libya (**Updated**)

AUDIO RELEASE: Violence in Libya (**Updated**)

On September 12, the National Security Network held a press call with senior diplomatic, military and security experts to offer perspective on yesterday’s tragic violence in Libya, which resulted in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other members of the diplomatic staff. Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin, Major General Paul Eaton, Tom Malinowski and Brian Katulis emphasized the importance of measured responses from U.S. policymakers and politicians.

Listen to the call HERE.

Major General (ret) Paul Eaton, National Security Network senior adviser and thirty-year U.S. Army veteran including service in conflict- and post-conflict Somalia, Bosnia and Iraq, urged a measured response from American leaders:

“Soldiers look to their chain of command, look to their leadership to be cool, calm, and collected, steady in the saddle. To be judicious in what they say and how they act. And I deeply regret some of the intemperate remarks that we’ve heard particularly from senior Republican leadership who have not been steady in the saddle. They have been given to panic and hyperbole. This is a time to close ranks with American leadership and get to the bottom of what happened and to ensure that we prevent recurrence. … This is a great opportunity to stay quiet and allow the experts to pursue a reasonable conclusion.”

“Unless you’re in the execution level detail, this is a great opportunity to stay quiet and allow the experts to pursue a reasonable conclusion. So this is a time to assist American leadership, to close ranks with the President and to [he says help here then inaudible then] not get in the way.”

Brian Katulis, Center for American Progress senior fellow and a leading expert on the relationship between politics in Washington and American policy in the Middle East, warned there is no way to prevent all violence, but contrasted the effectiveness of the politics of rhetoric versus a steady response pursuing terrorists and investing the time, money and relationship building with leaders in the changing Arab world:

“One reaction one might expect here politically is an attitude of just pulling out and saying why are we spending so much time and money in places like this? And I think that would be the exact wrong instinct. We’ve heard from some senators today talking about holding back aid to Libya. Again, I think it’s the wrong instinct. Ambassador Christopher Stevens risked his life to engage Libyan counterparts and to help them build a more positive future. I think the best way to honor his memory and the memory of his colleagues lost in this attack is to stick with those efforts as tough as they are in places like Libya and in Egypt and in Yemen. That we need to stay sort of sustained with the right sort of leadership in offering support in these transitions. It’s hard and it’s difficult and it’s going to be different in different countries in the Middle East. But I think our leadership is essential and it’s not just talking about our leadership. It’s actually standing by the diplomats and others who are risking their lives day in and day out to do this work.”

“It’s my view that President Obama along with Secretary of State Clinton set the right tone in their statements this morning and really focused on the complex situation, also focused on honoring the service of the diplomats we lost. Mitt Romney really I think didn’t do himself much favor. He actually looked like he was auditioning to be a commentator on Fox News as opposed to running for President of the United States.”

Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin, Middle East Institute president and U.S. Ambassador in Pakistan on September 11, 2001, expressed sadness but urged policymakers and politicians to let the information come in before they make big decisions, and emphasized that regional powers will play a key role in the immediate aftermath:

“This is really a seminal moment for the new Egyptian [leader] Mr. Morsi. He’s going to be tested in how he handles this crisis and as to whether he’ll use it for political purposes or whether he’ll step up and calm the roiled waters in Egypt. Early indications are that he’ll exercise leadership but we’ll all need to watch this very closely.”

Tom Malinowski, Human Rights Watch Washington director who spent time in Benghazi last year as the Libyan revolution unfolded, pointed out that while armed militia groups still present an ‘Achilles heel’ for the Libyan transition, Libyans on the whole have shown important political progress and steps need to be taken to maintain that:

“The vast, vast majority of Libyans are disgusted and ashamed about what has happened. They aren’t responsible for what happened yesterday. That said, they are responsible for making sure that it doesn’t happen again… which is not going to be easy but is absolutely necessary to save their revolution and their ability to have a relationship with the United States. I think it’s absolutely important that we not give up on Libya and the administration, I think, was pitch perfect today in stressing that. But we also have be extremely tough on the Libyan authorities in insisting that they meet their responsibility and confront these lawless armed groups.”

“It may well be that one political reaction to this outrage inside Libya is a decision to elevate someone who is seen by most Libyans as being closely linked to the West. So I think that does tell you something about where the majority of folks at least in Libya are which is not to downplay at all the absolute urgency of dealing with the threat that they face and that we face there.”

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