The recent venomous statements by John McCain and Lindsay Graham about US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, are, as President Obama said in his Press Conference on Wednesday, “outrageous”.

The events in Benghazi, when terrorists took advantage of a political charged situation to kill four Americans, are without doubt, shocking. Even to the Libyans living in Benghazi who tried to help the wounded and dying, and later banded together to oust the terrorist groups from Benghazi. Events like this happen very quickly, mostly without warning and can be deadly.

But in order to understand what is happening, let us step back to 1969, when Richard Nixon was sworn in as President, and look at the history that led up to the Coup on September 1st 1969 that put Muammar Ghaddafi in power, and examine my credentials for writing about this subject.

On that September day in 1969, I was a young twenty-year-old father working in Tripoli for an American oil exploration company, Geophysical Service Inc., a division of Texas Instruments, as a trainee computer programmer and draughtsman/cartographer. At seven thirty in the morning, I drove my army green coloured Mini-Moke to work in the middle of a convoy of Libyan Army trucks filled with armed soldiers. Little did I know that the coup was in progress. When I arrived at the office, I found my co-workers lying on the floor of our ground floor office and wondered what was going on, only to be told there was a coup and shooting in the streets. I had driven for half an hour in the middle of the convoy and had not seen or heard any shooting. So of course I went up onto the roof to see what was going on. There was indeed shooting and spent rounds dropped into the parking lot, missing my Mini-Moke but piercing the roofs of several of my co-workers cars. Some of what happened during the next few days and weeks I have used to enhance the narrative of my book AN UNQUIET AMERICAN.

Libya had gone from being a monarchy, supported – somewhat lackadaisically – by the US and UK, to a socialist revolutionary country in a day. And it took only four days for the US and the UK to officially approve recognition of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) as the Government of Libya (to read the US government memos about that decision go here http://bit.ly/ZLawtW). A decision that, in retrospect, was far too hastily made and set the course of a rather disturbing historical period to the present day. Richard Nixon had taken office in January 1969 and by March 1969 the US Government had decided not to give much support to Crown Prince Sayyid Hasan ar-Rida al-Mahdi as-Sanussi, King Idris’ nephew, who was waiting to succeed the eighty year-old King who was suffering from ill health and had travelled to Turkey for treatment. The Crown Prince threw his support behind the RCC within days.

For ten years, since 1959 when oil was discovered, King Idris – enjoying the support of the US and UK – had grown unbelievably wealthy from oil revenues while his countrymen remained poor.  Slum shanty-towns grew up on the outskirts of Tripoli and Benghazi as nomadic tribes tried to cash in on the oil concession rights, but their lands had been ‘stolen’ by Idris and the western oil companies and left them with very little.

As a family we moved from Iran to Libya in 1964. My father, a low-level intelligence gatherer for MI6, worked for an American oil consortium, my mother worked in the British Embassy, and the British Ambassador gave a speech at my wedding earlier in 1969, and nobody knew what was brewing. And after the Revolution, there were no recriminations, no inquiries, no firing of Kissinger or blame leveled at Nixon. They just thought they could do a deal on the oil with the RCC and keep the status quo. But they refused to fulfill their contract to supply the Libyan Air Force with jets which upset the RCC no end. The Americans got a little “cocky”, feeling that they had they had the upper hand on power as demonstrated in the biggest USAF base outside the US, Wheelus Air Base, on the outskirts of Tripoli. After all after WW2, the USA had all the money and held all the IOUs from Europe and beyond, and Vietnam was not yet a huge headache. Hubris has a cost.

So what happened? Ghaddafi went to the Russians, did a deal on oil and weapons and for the next forty years became a thorn in the side of the west.

What’s the point of looking at the past? Because if the US and UK hadn’t been so blind over Libya in 1969, then those Americans killed in Benghazi earlier this year – Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Information Officer Sean Smith, and former SEALS working as security contractors, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty – would probably be alive. Actions have consequences especially when we arrogant western countries decide to mess around in other countries changing regimes and creating a seething violence that continues for a decade, if not many decades, because we want their resources, or because we just don’t like them.

Republican administrations have a habit of supporting dictatorships around the world, which have a habit of coming back to bite. Here are some examples.

Iran – Eisenhower organised the removal of a democratically elected government in favour of the tyrannical Shah: Iraq – Reagan supported Saddam Hussein in the Iran-Iraq war and George W Bush launched an unjustified pre-emptive strike on Iraq: Chile – Nixon and Kissinger supported the overthrow of a democratic government and the installation of the Dictatorship of General Pinochet: Panama – Nixon enabled Noriega (who worked for the CIA) to assume power. Of course there was El Salvador, the Arms for Hostages deal, and a myriad more questionable missions.

After leaving Libya in 1970, I joined the British Army the following year – the Parachute Regiment – rose from the rank of Private Soldier to Captain, served two counter terrorism tours in Northern Ireland and a tour with the United Nations Forces in Cyprus (see my book CONTACT). My parents continued to live in Libya, in Benghazi, until their retirement in the late1980s. So on several counts I am qualified to discuss Libyan affairs. I was there during the Revolution of 1969, my father was involved with MI6, and I trained as a counter terrorism soldier.

So I find it absolutely unconscionable that Lindsay Graham and John McCain are trying to hang a Watergate style drama around the neck of the President for the next four years. The GOP are so apoplectic about the President’s re-election, they can hardly contain themselves. What are these has-beens thinking when the country is on the brink of another economic disaster, or are they simply trying to cause trouble, be obstructive and destructive to the interests of the country yet again?

To use the deaths of four Americans in Libya as a club to beat the newly elected Administration under the guise of searching for the ‘truth’, is cynical and disgusting in the extreme. These two idiots ought to be censured and punished for being a distraction, especially as the Administration is already moving forward with an inquiry into all aspects of the Benghazi attacks. Watch the hearings today.

There should be less posturing and more foresight when making decisions that can cost people their lives in the future.

AN UNQUIET AMERICAN: amazon.com http://amzn.to/WsT1iR    amazon.co.uk http://amzn.to/QNFZFZ

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