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Attacks in Libya may affect November election in U.S.

The darkest of nights seem to happen farther from home, approximately 20,465 miles in the town of Benghazi, Libya.

The U.S. consulate in Benghazi became alight with antiaircraft weapons and rocket propelled grenades the night of September 11, 2012, leading to the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, along with three other Americans.

Stevens was found dead in a Benghazi hospital the morning after the attack. Radical militant group Ansar al-Shariah is being held responsible for the four deaths, along with 15 members of Libyan security.

Yussef Magariak, president of the Libyan National Congress, apologized for the attack by his fellow countrymen. Magariak stressed that Libya wants to work with the United States to resolve the issue of radical militias.

Photo credit: Julia Grippe

East Lansing is a far way from the tragedy held in Benghazi on September 11, yet that does not mean the MSU community remains immune from being affected.

Myles Baker, 20, a political science junior at MSU, felt empathy for the townspeople of Benghazi, along with the nation of Libya.

“This is a worldwide topic that hits home,” said Baker. “These are the circumstances that start wars.”

Baker is feeling the strain of the recent attack on Libya, even from East Lansing.

“My major has the potential to be impacted by this attack and by what the United States decides to do,” Baker said. “I do feel like this was more of a political attack than an attack on America.”

Students across campus have reacted to the U.S. response to the Libyan attack in a variety of ways.

Courtney Poli, an international relations sophomore, tried to justify the attack and the response that followed.

“[Libyans] have a lot of built up resentment towards the States. I don’t necessarily disagree with the response to the attack – the U.S. has made mistakes in the past, but rarely takes responsibility. It’s time someone did,” Poli said.

Poli, originally from Singapore, looks at this attack as a possible detriment to her future career.

“What worries me is that I want to take the diplomacy route after graduation,” she said. “It could affect my future, which is what frightens me the most.”

With the November 6 election soon approaching and the criticism by both Republican and Democrats on how the attack was handled, many may wonder how it will affect the election’s outcome.

“[Criticism of the Libyan attack] could potentially help Obama,” said Baker. “His stance on less involvement could be keeping not only himself safer, but the whole of the United States, and us here in East Lansing.”

Although the attack on Libya is present in the minds of those in and running office, it might not be as prevalent to students around Michigan State in regards to the election.

Photo credit: Julia Grippe

“Students can skew it any way they want to for it to fit into this election,” said Poli. “As an international relations major, I want to vote for whoever knows not to step on every countries’ toes. To do this, you need to read multiple sources to gain all the facts; many of my peers do not do this.”

According to The New York Times, President Obama sent out tighter security for all American diplomats, in addition to sending 50 marines to the Libyan capital, Tripoli, to assist the American embassy located there.

Republican nominee Mitt Romney disagreed with Obama’s reaction to the attacks, accusing Obama of treating the attack with minimal response.

“I personally don’t believe Obama’s response was wrong. In retrospect, these four lives aren’t enough to start a war over,” said Poli. “The consequences of a rebuttal attack will affect all of us career wise, and make our finances more of a struggle once we graduate. America can’t monitor the whole world.”

The direct cause of the attack has not been identified, yet the Libyan newspaper Albawaba has reported from the front lines of the attack. Albawaba reported that Stevens had been preparing for American troops to enter Libya, which could have been a possible trigger.

Also reported to be a cause of the September 11 attack in Libya came from an American made video entitled, “The Innocence of Muslims,” depicting the Islam prophet Muhammad as a homosexual child molester, furthermore insulting the Islam religion.

“The video was horrible. I would say this could have stemmed the attack due to blatant disrespect,” said Baker. “But they [Ansar al-Shariah] chose the wrong outlet to describe their dislike.

With the attack being on the date of September 11, the issue has arisen that the attack was a glory kill to remind Americans that al-Qaeda is still alive.

“It was twice the insult to attack an American embassy on the date of the worst attack on American soil,” said Baker. “Almost a reminder that it could happen again.”

The impact of 9/11 is still upon many students at Michigan State, and the most recent attack on the American embassy is drawing many students back to the memorable day.

With the response to the attack still in the works and the Ansar al-Shariah militia now disbanded, Michigan State students can assist in working to create a progressive future where America might not have to be subdued with foreign attacks.

“This could really affect the future of International Relations,” said Baker. “This will be falling back on our generation – we have to be ready to pick it up.”

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