The martyrdom of Christopher Stevens
J. Christopher Stevens exemplified American diplomacy at its best, and for that he was murdered.
Diplomacy can be dry, it can be political, it can be ineffective — a necessary evil perpetrated by career bureaucrats. But sometimes diplomacy can have a transformative effect on a country, elevating justice and, not to be hyperbolic, making the world a more perfect place.
Christopher Stevens, who, until his murder on Tuesday in Benghazi was the American Ambassador to Libya, was a peaceful warrior, using diplomacy to aid a revolution. Stevens arrived in Benghazi during the American-backed Libyan revolution on a Greek cargo ship and set up a diplomatic beachhead in a war-torn city.
Stevens was charismatic kid from the Bay Area who grew up to be not only a highly successful diplomat, but one who cared passionately about his charge.
The stories of him making cappuccinos for John McCain at the embassy, gently mocking Gadaffi’s goons (pre-revolution) and emailing home about how a soft-rock 80's cover band that his staff scrounged up made him feel right at home on the 4th of July, show he could treat his job with a seriousness he never felt compelled to apply to himself.
From the picture of him chatting in Arabic with Libyan kids near the beach to the one of Libyan allies dragging an unconscious Stevens from the embassy in a desperate effort to save his life, it’s clear that Stevens was much more than a suit crudely pushing Western interests.
Obviously there’s a long road to democracy ahead for Libya, but Stevens, who arrived in Benghazi carrying little more than a bag with €60,000 in embassy seed money, was up to the challenge. More than that, the way he executed his duties paint a picture of a man who was unafraid of death and put faith in the goodness of the Libyan people — which makes the actions of the terrorists all the more deplorable.
Stevens was known for his runs through the countryside and walking the streets to interact with locals. He knew the security risks that went along with this, and made his decision accordingly. In large part his success was due to the personal relationships he forged with Libyans on an individual basis, leading to an outpouring of support and messages of love following his death among Libyans.
“There are causes worth dying for but none worth killing for.” - Albert Camus
The death of Stevens, his murder by terrorists, exemplify the quotation above. Stevens was not simply a victim of terror, as so many others tragically have been. He was a martyr for the cause of American diplomacy and Libyan freedom; so he shall be remembered.