The death of J. Christopher Stevens, the 52-year old ambassador who was slain September 11 as Islamists attacked a U.S. Consulate in the city of Benghazi in Libya has hit home in Indian country. Stevens, who has been referred to as a rising star in U.S. foreign policy, is a member of the Chinook Indian Tribe in Washington state.
On Thursday, September 13, the tribal newspaper the Chinook Observer, shared statements from Ray Gardner, tribal chairman, following the news of Stevens’ death. “To all of the Chinook members and all the friends of the Chinook Nation I am hopeful that you will include the family of Chris Stevens the former Ambassador to Libya that lost his life while working towards bringing lasting peace to the region, in your prayers.”
In an Associated Press story Stevens is responsible for brokering tribal disputes and conducted U.S. outreach efforts in Jerusalem, Cairo, Damascus and Riyadh. The story also says that his death “deprives the United States of someone widely regarded as one of the most effective American envoys to the Arab world.”
Stevens had been in Libya since April 2011, and jumped at the chance to be the next U.S. ambassador when President Barack Obama asked him earlier this year the AP reports. During his time in Libya, he witnessed the fall of Muammar al-Gaddafi which he had hinted to in a news conference in August 2011 – Gadhafi was killed in October.
“He was loved by everybody,” Ahmed al-Abbar, a Libyan opposition leader during the revolution that killed Gaddafi as reported by AP.
In a statement released by President Obama on September 12, he referred to Stevens as, “a role model to all who worked with him and to the young diplomats who aspire to walk in his footsteps.”
The president also said that, “[i]t’s especially tragic that Chris Stevens died in Benghazi because it is a city that he helped to save. At the height of the Libyan revolution, Chris led our diplomatic post in Benghazi. With characteristic skill, courage, and resolve, he built partnerships with Libyan revolutionaries, and helped them as they planned to build a new Libya. When the Gaddafi regime came to an end, Chris was there to serve as our ambassador to the new Libya, and he worked tirelessly to support this young democracy, and I think both Secretary [Hillary] Clinton and I relied deeply on his knowledge of the situation on the ground there.”
Stevens becomes the sixth U.S. ambassador to be killed on duty, the last one was Adolp Dubs, in Afghanistan in 1979 according to the AP.
“He risked his life to stop a tyrant then gave his life trying to help build a better Libya,” Clinton said at the State Department according to the AP. “The world needs more Chris Stevenses.”
In a Washington Post video interview, Martin Indyk of the Brookings Institution, when talking about Stevens said that it was a “big loss obviously for his family, but also for America, he was the best and the brightest.”