J. Christopher Stevens.
In our rush to discuss the political ramifications or the national security issues of the Benghazi attacks, it’s easy to forget the people on the ground. In particular the death in the line of duty by US civil servants. Ambassador Stevens was the first US Ambassador killed in the line of duty since Adoph Dubs died in Afghanistan in 1979 and the first death of serving ambassador since Arnold Raphel in 1988.
He was a career foreign service officer. He started in North Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco then became a State Department Near-East hand. He spoke Arabic and French, was deeply interested in the region he studied and served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya for two years before being assigned as the special envoy to the NTC in 2011. He died serving his country doing something he believed in.
All of this, is essentially publicly available information. It’s also easy to overlook.
I never had the pleasure of knowing Ambassador Stevens, but his story is reminiscent of my many friends with careers in international affairs. Whether at the US State Department, the UN or their country’s foreign ministry, they serve in careers that are far too often overshadowed by the military and derided as weakness. They work in multi-varied environments often with volatile circumstances where they have less control than their parent institutions would like.
Let’s not forget that these individuals are often just as much in the line of fire, and are ultimately striving for the cause of peace. And may our debates move beyond the petty and work toward furthering Ambassador Stevens’ work in Libya.