MSNBC Guest: Protecting Ambassador Stevens Could Have Stopped Him From Doing His Job

This could be the lamest defense yet for the lapses that led to the murder of US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.  According to a former diplomat appointed by Bill Clinton, providing tighter security for Ambassador Stevens might have prevented him from carrying out his diplomatic duties.

Daniel Serwer, the Clinton diplomat in question, offered his excuse for the Benghazi debacle on MSNBC's Up With Chris Hayes this morning.  View the video after the jump.



You'll note that Hayes makes reference to a HuffPo article in which some US diplomats claim diplomatic security is too tight.  The main source for that article is Barbara Bodine, the woman who as Clinton's ambassador to Yemen notoriously thwarted the FBI's investigation into the bombing of the USS Cole. Some security expert.

Watch the liberal diplomatic community circle the wagons around President Obama and his egregious failure to protect his ambassador to a violent and chaotic land.

NOTE: Particularly notable and outrageous was this passsive-voice formulation from Serwer: "It's not surprising that failure comes in a situation like this." Yes, "failure comes" on little cat feet.  No one really responsible for it. Such a "complicated, confusing situation," don't you know?

CHRIS HAYES: Daniel, you wrote about this, and there was a really good piece of reporting from Josh Hersh, at the Huffington Post, talking to some diplomats, who were talking about their fear that in the wake of this, what we're going to see is increased security, increased barricading of American embassies.  And that those, the increased security, comes at the cost of doing effective diplomacy.  How have you experienced that as a diplomat yourself? How have you experienced that trade-off on the ground?

DANIEL SERWER: Well, especially in Iraq we see very clearly that the American diplomats are incarcerated and warehoused in an embassy. They're not out talking to the population; they're not meeting people as frequently as they should.  They're not giving speeches, cutting ribbons, doing all the things that need to be done if you're to develop a rapport not only with the host government but also with the host population, and that's what diplomacy is all about, that comprehensive understanding of a society.

. . .

HAYES: And Chris Stevens was very well-known for being incredibly present around Tripoli and Benghazi: for going for morning runs, for going to parties and breakfasts and doing all the things that you just talked about.

SERWER: He was doing all the right things, and there's no way to reduce risks to somebody who's doing the right things to zero. You can manage the risk.  You cannot completely zero out the risk. And this is extremely important for people to understand.  This was a great tragedy, as Vice-President Biden said.  But it's a tragedy that will happen every once in awhile because you can't have zero risk . . . So this is a very complicated, confusing situation. It's not surprising that failure comes in a situation like this.  But putting our people behind very high walls with lots of personal security details which then themselves have to be protected is not a formula for effective diplomacy.    

Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.