2012 Benghazi Consulate: “Sometimes History Rhymes”

2012 Benghazi Consulate: “Sometimes History Rhymes”

The Consulate, 2012

On 11 Sep­tem­ber 2012, at 9:40 p.m. local time, the Libyan mil­i­tant group Ansar al-Sharia attacked the Amer­i­can con­sulate com­pound in Beng­hazi. Result­ing were the deaths of Ambas­sador to Libya J. Christo­pher Stevens and U.S. For­eign Ser­vice Infor­ma­tion Man­age­ment Offi­cer Sean Smith.

On 7 Octo­ber, fol­low­ing the attacks on Israel from Gaza and the seiz­ing of hostages, I was asked for the same two Churchill quo­ta­tions the press request­ed after the 2012 Libyan con­sulate attack. The quo­ta­tions are in my book, Churchill by Him­self, lat­er pub­lished as Churchill in His Own Words.

Chapter 29: Leadership: “Inertia”

“When the sit­u­a­tion was man­age­able it was neglect­ed, and now that it is thor­ough­ly out of hand we apply too late the reme­dies which then might have effect­ed a cure. There is noth­ing new in the sto­ry. It is as old as the  Sibylline books. It falls into that long, dis­mal cat­a­logue of the fruit­less­ness of expe­ri­ence and the con­firmed unteach­a­bil­i­ty of mankind. Want of fore­sight, unwill­ing­ness to act when action would be sim­ple and effec­tive, lack of clear think­ing, con­fu­sion of coun­sel until the emer­gency comes, until self-preser­va­tion strikes its jar­ring gong—these are the fea­tures which con­sti­tute the end­less rep­e­ti­tion of history.”

—Churchill, House of Com­mons, 2 May 1935. Much more than a con­sulate was then at stake. In a con­fer­ence at Stre­sa, Britain, France and Italy had agreed to coop­er­ate to main­tain the inde­pen­dence of Aus­tria. Churchill’s fear was that this plan would be nul­li­fied by iner­tia. Hitler annexed Aus­tria three years later.

Chapter 23: Politics, the World Scene: “Middle East”

“The Mid­dle East is one of the hard­est-heart­ed areas in the world. It has always been fought over, and peace has only reigned when a major pow­er has estab­lished firm influ­ence and shown that it would main­tain its will. Your friends must be sup­port­ed with every vigour and if nec­es­sary they must be avenged. Force, or per­haps force and bribery, are the only things that will be respect­ed. It is very sad, but we had all bet­ter recog­nise it. At present our friend­ship is not val­ued, and our enmi­ty is not feared.”

—Churchill to his pri­vate sec­re­tary, Antho­ny Mon­tague Browne, from AMB’s book Long Sun­set, 166-67, fol­low­ing the 1958 assas­si­na­tion of King Faisal II of Iraq.*

*Wikipedia: “The Hashemite Arab Fed­er­a­tion formed between Iraq and Jor­dan in Feb­ru­ary 1958 with Faisal as its head, did not quell oppo­si­tion. In July 1958, a group of Roy­al Iraqi Army offi­cers led by Abd al-Karim Qasim mount­ed a coup d’état and over­threw the monar­chy. They exe­cut­ed Faisal and numer­ous mem­bers of his family.

Mark Twain said:

“His­to­ry doesn’t repeat. But some­times it rhymes.”

Related articles

“Time­line: Win­ston Churchill on Pales­tine, 1945-46,” 2023.

“Time­line: Win­ston Churchill and the Road to Israel, 1947-49,” 2023.

El-Sisi: The Churchill Test. Anoth­er Damask­i­nos?” 2016.

“‘Jar­ring Gong’: Ben­jamin Netanyahu on Win­ston Churchill,” 2023.

“How Win­ston Churchill Pre­served the Dream of Israel, July 1922,” 2018.

“Churchill and Lawrence of Ara­bia: A Con­junc­tion of Two Bright Stars,” 2018.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

RML Books

Richard Langworth’s Most Popular Books & eBooks

Links on this page may earn commissions.