Perhaps Obama would be getting less criticism now if he had kept up nonstop meetings, prodding his advisers to do more after he gave his initial order — or perhaps he would be facing charges of micromanagement and refusing to “let the military do its job.”

Painful as it is to admit, in Benghazi, the U.S. government, for all its military power, was at the mercy of terrorists who enjoyed every home-field advantage. Of course, it might never have come to that if Obama hadn’t helped overthrow Libya’s dictator to begin with, or if he’d done a better job stabilizing the place and providing security to U.S. diplomats after Moammar Gaddafi was gone.

Those criticisms are valid, and familiar — but fall into the category of misjudgment and policy error, like the mistake President George W. Bush committed by invading Iraq in the belief it had weapons of mass destruction.

When American foreign policy fails, partisans hunt for policymakers’ sinister motives. What we really need to investigate are their good intentions.