Christopher Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya, smiles at his home in Tripoli June 28, 2012. Stevens and three embassy staff were killed late on September 11, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori
OTTAWA - The tragic irony of the death in Libya of US Ambassador Chris Stevens is that he was killed by the very people for whom he had been such a champion.
"This is a loss for Libya, too - the Libyan people have lost one of their strongest advocates and truest friends," Hannah Draper wrote on Twitter Wednesday.
Draper, a US diplomat who had worked for Stevens in Tripoli, says he was the best person she ever worked for.
"Chris stood by the Libyan people through the revolution, and he came back as ambassador because he believed in (their) cause."
For his efforts, he suffocated to death in the fire lit by Libyan terrorists as they attacked his embassy Tuesday. Three other Americans also died. Meanwhile in Cairo, terrorists there were trying to do the same thing to the US embassy. Don't believe anyone who says these were spontaneous uprisings over an anti-Muslim film in the US. These were well-planned, co-ordinated assaults that took place on a day, September 11, that radical jihadists think was their best day ever.
And yet, here in the West, we seemed surprised, even shocked, by these attacks.
But none of this will surprise Russian President Vladimir Putin who as much warned Prime Minister Stephen Harper during their one-on-one meeting in Vladivostok on the weekend that the West should expect this kind of thing for "instigating" mobs in Egypt and Libya. According to officials in the room with the two men, Putin said Harper and other Western leaders are acting like "Trotskyites" - that was Putin's line -- for exporting revolution and promoting instability.
I'm not sure how Putin connects the dots between Stephen Harper and Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky, but Putin's basic point to Harper was that Western leaders were being dangerously naive by meddling in the affairs of the dictators of the Middle East.
Harper was trying to get Putin to join the West in taking a hard line against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. As Harper said when I asked him after his meeting with Putin, "As long as Assad remains in power practicing brutality against his citizens, the situation there is going to become more and more desperate and more and more chaotic for everybody."
Of course, the West once said the same thing about Gadhafi in Libya.
Here's Harper again last October, after Gadhafi's death: "With the shadow of Gadhafi now lifted from their land, it is our hope that the Libyan people will find peace and reconciliation after this dark period in the life of their nation and we look forward to working with them."
It now looks naive of us to have once thought that way. To his credit, Libya's interim president apologized for the assault. As of late Wednesday afternoon, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi had made no such gesture.
In fact, though the English-language website of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood - the Islamist party Morsi belongs to - called the embassy attacks "irresponsible," the Arabic version of the MB site hails the attackers for "rising up to support the Prophet."
Now, let no one think for a second I'm pining for Mubarak or suggesting that Assad ought to stay. I take the small-l liberal view of the world -- the mainstream position of the West -- that murderous regimes like Gadhafi's, Mubarak's and Assad's must end.
But Putin's argument disrupts my comfortable small-l liberal world view for he refuses to lift a finger to oust Assad precisely because if he did, someone might lift a finger to oust him, a dictator of a different sort, perhaps, but a dictator nonetheless who uses state violence for political purposes. Putin no doubt notes the West routinely looks the other way at Castro in Cuba, at Chavez in Venezuela, at the sheiks of Saudi Arabia and even at his own thuggery in Russia. Why, Putin must wonder, would the West all of a sudden get queasy over the deaths of several thousand Syrians?
And while we in the West wrestle with our consciences and the moral gymnastics of our foreign policies, the Muslim Brotherhood will be busy in Egypt. It has called for nationwide protests there Friday.