The attack in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, his colleague Sean Smith, and two other colleagues is a terrible reminder of the risks American diplomats around the world take every day. The Center for American Progress honors the ultimate sacrifice Ambassador Stevens and his colleagues made in the service of their country.
As the Obama administration made clear today, the United States will work with our Libyan government partners to bring the perpetrators of this despicable act to justice.
This attack underscores the urgency of the work Ambassador Stevens and his colleagues were in Libya to accomplish: to help the Libyan people establish the rule of law, eliminate terrorist networks, and disband militias. As our former colleague Sarah Margon noted last July, disbanding Libya’s militias and establishing a fair and effective justice system remain critical tasks for Libya’s newly elected government and its international supporters.
Libyans remain friendly to the United States, view Al Qaeda and other extremists as a major threats to their country’s future, and want a robust political, economic, and security relationship with the United States and its European allies. For precisely this reason, Ambassador Stevens and his many colleagues on the ground have worked so diligently to forge a strong relationship between the United States and a newly democratic Libya.
Yesterday’s attack reminds us that extremist groups and voices still aim to dominate the ongoing processes of progress and change in the Middle East through violence. American leadership remains essential to ensuring these extremists do not derail the promise of change in the Middle East, and the United States should remain focused on its fundamental support for change and progress in the region as it seeks justice for the murders of Ambassador Stevens and his colleagues.
Brian Katulis is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress who concentrates on Middle East and Central Asian affairs.