It is 11 September 2019. Since we inhabit the era of fake news, I thought I’d post a short rant and just a tiny little bit of original content, FWIW.
Seven years ago, on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, a large mob of Ansar al-Sharia, an Al Qaeda offshoot, stormed a small diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya murdering the US Ambassador and three staff. A CIA team positioned nearby were told to stand down, either from on high, through a supervisor’s pride or in a monumental management screw-up. Some of the people held up on the sidelines that night later made a film called 13 Hours about it.The next day, some unknown amateur YouTube video director was arrested, and bundled away in a blanket into a car never to be mentioned again, but Benghazi was an act of terrorism and everybody knew it. One could lie[lige in OE] callously; one could keep ‘leading from behind’ but reality has an annoying habit of intruding. The congressional hearings that followed revealed the existence of an unauthorised email server.
In Ancient Greece, Libya was a word used for ‘Africa’ as a whole, the Romans too used it synonymously for Africa, including sometimes specifically the coast that was Carthage. According to Max Gluckman, a social anthropologist writing in the 50s and 60s, the town of Benghazi on the Mediterranean Sea (first settled in the 6th c.) is also one of only two recorded places on earth where incest was once culturally acceptable. A shithole in other words. No wonder Cato exclaimed, Carthago delenda est!
Anyway, that’s a distraction from the tale of the evening of 11 September 2012. My poem below is written, at least in the first section, from the POV not of the ambassador but of a desk dude standing on the roof as a violent, coordinated attack takes place.
I have long believed, perhaps wrongly it seems, that the US of A always came back for their own but somewhere up the chain, no one took the call. The day after, Department of State staff moved in media lockstep with an implausible lie because even by 2012, the administration believed it could continue to fabricate its way out of anything and prolong its dishonest narrative towards successful re-election.
What an extraordinary, different, eye-opening, Flight 93 world we now live in, after those eight long grim, corrupt and vainglorious years that no one can quite remember and many want to forget. The second section of my poem is imagined from that decidedly less honourable POV, n a sort of teleprompter style.
Lights over Benghazi Ainsley Hayes
I can see the night laid out before me
We’re looking for the planes that do not come
The evening air is thick with sounds around me,
We dare not stay and yet, we do not run.
I can hear the cursing and the yelling
I wonder if we’ll all be found alive
I wonder if my tale is worth the telling,
Of the difference it would have made to have survived.
I can see Benghazi’s lights go out before me
I cannot see the hawks above my head
This tinder town is blowing up around me
Stateside—3 am? Oh—in bed.
Thank you for your sacrifice, uh flag and country
A director will be along to square the books
Now let us go to luncheon, and speak awhile of something
Just ignore the whispers and the looks.