Teaching Students About Benghazi


Teaching students about Benghazi is an essential step in fostering a more comprehensive understanding of modern global politics and history. The events that took place in this northeastern Libyan city on September 11, 2012, have had significant implications for both the United States and Libya. To provide students with a rounded understanding of this event, educators must focus on the political and historical context, as well as the impact of the attack.

Historical Background:

To teach students about Benghazi, it’s essential to discuss the broader political and historical context of Libya. Begin by examining Libya’s history as an Italian colony, its struggles for independence, and the rise of Gaddafi’s revolutionary government. This will provide students with a more nuanced understanding of the nation’s political landscape at the time of the attack. Moreover, discussing subsequent regime changes, civil wars, and current political and social issues helps students appreciate how complex the situation in Libya remains since Gaddafi’s toppling.

The Arab Spring:

The uprising known as the Arab Spring that swept through much of North Africa and the Middle East between 2010-2011 is an essential topic to address when teaching students about Benghazi. As part of this wave of protests demanding increased democratic representation, Libya experienced significant instability leading up to both Gaddafi’s removal from power in 2011 and elections held in 2012. Understanding these events gives students valuable insight into how regional politics influenced Libya’s situation leading up to the Benghazi attacks.

The Benghazi Attack:

Educators must present a factual account of what unfolded during Benghazi while maintaining sensitivity to its tragic nature. Four Americans were killed in an attack on two U.S. government facilities in Benghazi – Ambassador Chris Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith, and security officers Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods. Discussing their duties within the State Department can highlight the gravity of the situation.

The Aftermath:

The Benghazi attack reignited debates on U.S. foreign policy, diplomatic security, and military involvement in sensitive regions. It’s important to explore these topics with students because it allows them to understand how the event continues to shape U.S. policies and global politics. Additionally, instructors could present an overview of the numerous investigations and hearings surrounding the attacks, providing students with an understanding of how knowledgeable public servants must navigate complex political situations, as well as highlighting the importance of government transparency.


Teaching students about Benghazi is essential to fostering a more comprehensive understanding of modern global politics and history. By examining topics such as Libya’s historical background, regional political climate, and the events surrounding the Benghazi attack itself, educators can provide students with valuable insights into international relations and diplomacy. Through studying this event from multiple perspectives, learners can gain a deeper appreciation of how global events shape different nations’ politics.

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