It will be interesting to see if the Benghazi Attack plays a significant role in the next American presidential election; from 3 years out, it’s hard to tell if it will be a deciding issue or simply a historical footnote. What will stay with me are the political obfuscations, the Sunday morning chat show talking points, and the curious notion that one can assume responsibility without assuming blame.
By contrast, consider this: On June 5, 1944 the Allied Invasion of Normandy began as 160,000 Canadian, British, and American soldiers and sailors made their way to the treacherous shores of occupied France. The night before the invasion began, General D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander, wrote a letter he would need to deliver, if the invasion failed.
He wrote, “Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold, and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air, and the navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt, it is mine alone.’
Eisenhower’s note was never needed.
Author Scott Simon points out that Eisenhower “…drew a long, strong line under ‘mine alone.’ When you see those words and that thick line on the note today, in the Eisenhower Library, you might feel some of the steel of a man who would so unflinchingly accept responsibility. Ike didn’t try to camouflage failure in phrases like ‘mistakes were made,’ ‘Our projections were not met’ or ‘I will say nothing pending investigation.’ He wrote, ‘any blame or fault …is mine alone’.”