Max Boot: Obama Repeats Bush Mistakes in Libya

Roundup: Historians' Take

Max Boot is a contributing writer to Opinion. He is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, an advisor to the Romney campaign and author of the forthcoming Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare From Ancient Times to the Present Day.

The attack in Benghazi, which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, was practically the only foreign policy issue to come up in the second presidential debate, and it's sure to come up again in Monday's final debate, which will be entirely devoted to foreign policy.

Last time around, much of the focus was on whether President Obama called it a "terrorist" act. The evidence on this score is ambiguous: In a Rose Garden statement on Sept. 13, the president did decry "acts of terror," but it was not clear whether he was referring to Sept. 11, 2001, in the United States or Sept. 11, 2012, in Libya, and after his remarks, other administration spokesmen preferred to ascribe the attack to spontaneous demonstrations over an anti-Islam video.

But one issue is unambiguous: There has been a crippling and dangerous lack of security in Libya since Moammar Kadafi was overthrown last year with the help of NATO airstrikes. This was an issue that many observers worried about while the war was ongoing: Was there a plan to create security and governance after Kadafi's downfall?..

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