Sunday, September 16, 2012

Australia: Chris Stevens' vision

The Sydney Morning Herald

Slain envoy would have urged US to 'waver not' on Libya

US intervention does little to honour Chris Stevens' vision, writes Robin Wright.

More than anyone else, Stevens convinced Washington that the National Transitional Council (NTC) had the political bona fides to pick up the pieces after Colonel Gaddafi's 42-year rule. His assessment has so far proved accurate. When Libyans went to the polls in July, most rejected hardline Islamists as well as separatists. And many NTC officials won the popular vote.

Most colleagues thought Chris was daft for taking the ambassadorship, in what would be his third Libyan tour. But he was excited. ''It's going to be fascinating. Wild, but fascinating,'' he told me.

A week before his murder in Benghazi, we exchanged emails about plans to visit Libya. A State Department travel warning cited increasing assassinations, car bombs and gunmen abducting foreigners. Chris saw the potential over the peril. He was not one declaring the Arab Spring had made the region worse. He understood the Middle East was moving into the second phase of its traumatic transition as Arabs vie to define a new order.

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