In March 2011, the U.S. and our allies intervened in Libya’s burgeoning civil war to prevent a massacre of civilians by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi in the coastal city of Banghazi. Yesterday, militants in that city — including, perhaps, some of the more extremist elements of the rebels whose cause we took up last year — showed their gratitude by killing four Americans, including our ambassador to Libya.
“Lafayette, we are here,” it was not.
The murders in Benghazi followed a siege earlier in the day of the U.S. embassy in Cairo in neighboring Egypt. Both attacks were blamed on Islamic extremists angered by a film hardly anyone in America had heard of, made by someone hardly anyone in America had heard of or discussed, that purportedly insults the Muslim prophet Muhammad. (See screen grab below, a Google search for the name of the movie in question. Note: I stopped at Sept. 5 because results in the days after that date begin to include references to the attacks, which obviously were added as updates after the fact.)
The attacks came, of course, on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on American soil.
In Cairo, protesters scaled our embassy’s walls, lowered our flag — which was at half-staff in remembrance of the 9/11 attacks — and replaced it with a banner similar to the one used by al-Qaida, and chanted, “We are all Osama,” as in bin Laden. As they did so, some member(s) of the embassy’s staff wrote repeatedly on Twitter — the social media platform that was widely used by young Egyptians during their uprising against Hosni Mubarak’s government — that the U.S. government condemned … the movie. Those tweets were later deleted as the State Department distanced itself from those remarks, but do not believe that the reflexive sensibility on display in the messages came out of the blue: If nothing else, our diplomats, especially three and a half years into a presidency, are well-trained to reflect the prevailing beliefs and sensibilities of the administration in office. That is their job, after all.
The interim president of Libya has apologized for the deaths in his country. As of this writing, there has been no such regret expressed by Egyptian officials. On the contrary, the Muslim Brotherhood, one of whose members is the country’s new president, called for nationwide protests against the film on Friday. At least they said the protests are supposed to be peaceful, I guess.
For his part, the president this morning issued a statement that read, in part: “While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.” The moral equivalence on display here — this is bad, that is bad, and no one should do bad things — is astounding.
But what’s really astounding is that, 11 years to the day after 9/11, our embassies in two Arab countries could be attacked by Islamic terrorists, and our government’s response would include wagging its finger at the people whose non-violent actions allegedly triggered the terrorists’ violence. That, 11 years to the day after 9/11, we still have people who believe these extremists need a reason to be mad at us.
Folks: They don’t need a reason, just an excuse to hand to the useful idiots who will continue to excuse them as people with legitimate religious grievances. (UPDATED at 12:25 p.m.: CNN is now reporting, based on information from “U.S. sources,” that the attacks in Benghazi were planned in advance and used protests about the movie as a diversion.) They just hate us. Period.
Now, “they” does not mean “all Muslims” or “all Arabs” or any such thing. But it does mean a large segment of the populations in the Middle East and North Africa, a relative few of whom trade on the ignorance and pliability of many others to pursue their totalitarian political goals.
Yet, 11 years later, they storm our embassy buildings and kill our civilians, and, 11 years later, our president doesn’t betray an understanding of the cause and effect at play here.
Add to these events and responses the statement from the White House, also yesterday, that the president is not available to meet with the prime minister of Israel, our closest ally in the region and a country known to be mulling military action to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Add to it as well the continuing massacre of Syrians by their own government, in a war eerily similar to the one in which we intervened in Libya, except for the fact that this time even our weakest efforts to stop the government-sponsored killing have been blocked by our supposed friends in Moscow.
And for all the crowing from Democrats, and specifically Obama, at their convention last week about their supposed foreign-policy superiority, the question I keep coming back to is one uttered a week earlier, by Condoleezza Rice, at the GOP convention:
Where does America stand? You see when the friends or foes alike don’t know the answer to that question, unambiguously and clearly, the world is likely to be a more dangerous and chaotic place.
– By Kyle Wingfield