Democrats, with impeachment a relative flop but desperate to tie a losing issue to President Donald Trump, have attempted to make recent armed protests at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, the president's "Benghazi."
"Benghazi," of course, refers to the 2012 attack by a militant Islamic terrorist group at the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, where two U.S. diplomats and two contractors were killed and 10 others wounded. After the attack, members of the Obama administration repeatedly blamed the release of a video for the attacks while privately acknowledging it had nothing to do with it.
Subsequent investigations later criticized four career State Department officials for denying additional security at the compound before the attack.
In Iraq Wednesday, pro-Iranian militiamen and their protesting supporters withdrew from the embassy compound after clashing with U.S. security forces. They had breached the compound Tuesday and set fire to a reception area. No casualties were reported.
The protests followed U.S. airstrikes Sunday that killed 25 fighters of the Iran-backed militia in Iraq, which came in retaliation for last week's killing of an American contractor and injury of several U.S. soldiers in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base that the U.S. blamed on the militia.
The comparison of Benghazi to the Iraq incident is "not even close," Global Response Staff member John Tiegen of the 2012 Benghazi security team told Fox News.
"To sit there and say it was just like Benghazi?" he said. "There was no ambassador [in Iraq] and there was no consulate [and], technically, no personnel at all because they all got evacuated prior to the protesters getting there and that's the big difference between this administration and the last administration. At least this one took a stance before it actually was coming."
Since then, 100 Marines have been sent to the embassy in Iraq to bolster security.
That doesn't mean the problems are over for the U.S. in Iraq, the country it invaded in 2003 because of apparently faulty intelligence it had weapons of mass destruction it planned to use against the U.S. and others.
The Middle East country is still not stable, though U.S. hostilities ended there in 2011. Since then, for several years, it also underwent a partial occupation by the Islamic State, a terrorist militant group and former unrecognized proto-state. And Iran continues to want to have an oversize influence on its weaker neighbor.
Dating from the long war that followed the U.S. overthrow of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003, Americans are not overly popular in Iraq, and it has been speculated some of the country's security forces could suddenly turn against the U.S. But neither is big-footing neighbor Iran popular, either.
Since Trump has repeatedly said he is no fan of "endless wars," we're hopeful any unrest that continues in Baghdad remains internal and does not become a focus of U.S. troop use. Certainly, the U.S. should support — behind the scenes — any public show of Iraqi weariness against Iranian influence, but shows of force should be limited to responses to incidents similar to the one in which the contractor was killed.
The previous administration, we believe, would have reacted timidly in such responses, inviting more of them. Targeted, limited reactions, especially to a loss of life, show the U.S. means business when it has to. We would hope it also shows Iraqis the U.S. still has its back as it continues to strengthen the government it chooses and that it shows Iran — the world's leading terror sponsor — that its violence will not go unnoticed.
Several Iraqi officials, for their part, sound as if they prefer influence from neither the U.S. nor Iran.
Political leaders, according to Iraqi Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani, must "ensure Iraq does not become a field for settling regional and international scores and that others do not interfere in its internal affairs."
"We need a serious stand by the senior officials," said Iraqi former national politician Muqtada al Sadr, "to keep Iraq away from the ferocious war that will eat green and dry land."
No country should want a "ferocious war" — or any war — in an already war-rocked country, but Americans should be glad the U.S. stands ready to be — as the president recently tweeted — "The Anti-Benghazi," despite desperate Democrat charges to the contrary.