From Benghazi to Cairo to Jerusalem to Damascus, a question: Where does America stand? (Updated)

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.)

Innocence of Muslims movie Google screen grab

Image: Google screen grab

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.

Evidently so.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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575 comments Add your comment

They BOTH suck

September 12th, 2012
1:52 pm

@@

1. “Get those worth saving out and let Netanyahu level their playground. ”

Israel does not need our permission. They are free to take the action they think is necessary for the protection of their country and interests.

2. ” Maybe not Iraqis but all were Muslim.”

You are pretty myopic in your thinking and knowledge base of the Muslim world if you think that statement means anything more than your ignorance on the subject. I do not pretend to have an in depth knowledge of the ME, but doesn’t take much knowledge to know that you made an asinine statement and that all Muslims are not the same. So you know, they are not even all Arab.

BuckeyeInGa

September 12th, 2012
1:53 pm

@Bruno 1:03. I don’t disagree..there doesn’t have to be just one driver IMO.

SBinF

September 12th, 2012
1:54 pm

Condolezza “Mushroom Cloud” Rice has about as much credibility talking about foreign policy as the Cookie Monster has discussing dieting and willpower.

Bruno

September 12th, 2012
1:55 pm

HD @ 1:41–I think that’s the longest post I’ve ever seen you make. Wise words, as always. ;-)

If we really wanted democracy to flourish as we claim, why not push our “allies”; Suadia Arabia, Kuwait, Jordon for reform and call them out as we do our adversaries?

TBS–As I’m sure you remember, we are in total agreement about this point. As much as we’d like to claim the high moral ground in our foreign policy, our inconsistencies are glaring to those on the receiving end of our military prowess.

@@

September 12th, 2012
1:55 pm

Finn:

Yeah…but are you opposed to Obama’s killing of innocents?

Kyle Wingfield

September 12th, 2012
1:57 pm

JDW: No, you mischaracterized my argument. That’s what I meant when I said you didn’t have it right.

ragnar danneskjold

September 12th, 2012
1:58 pm

Well-written, my compliments – nothing to add.

Kyle Wingfield

September 12th, 2012
2:00 pm

Undecided @ 1:47: It would have been very simple, and far more appropriate, for the tweeting staffer to point out that people in our country express their opinion without approval from our government. Likewise, it would have been far more appropriate to call on the protesters to discuss the matter civilly rather than overrunning the embassy.

Right?

@@

September 12th, 2012
2:01 pm

TBs:

Well there ARE those Purrrrrsians.

Old Timer

September 12th, 2012
2:01 pm

Go see the movie 2016 and you wil figure out why Obama is acting like he is. The man is on a mission.

Interested Observer

September 12th, 2012
2:01 pm

RE: “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.”

By the way, without intending to (I’m quite sure), Kyle gave credit here to President Obama for his handling of Gadhafi as Gadhafi was preparing to kill hundreds of thousands of his own people. This is one of the most under-reported and underestimated successes of this administration, accomplished using the “leading from behind” approach. Anyway, the behind the scenes details of this success deserves a lot more attention than it has received.

Kyle Wingfield

September 12th, 2012
2:01 pm

Centrist @ 1:48: In all honestly, I’ve been treated very well by everyone at the AJC in the 3+ years I’ve been here. And not everyone else here is liberal, either.

They BOTH suck

September 12th, 2012
2:02 pm

“And in my opinion, the timing of this sort of negates the “it’s about a movie” reasoning. That’s more of an excuse than anything else.”

Agreed. Probably more 9/11 than anything and even that is just a convenient excuse as well.

getaclue

September 12th, 2012
2:04 pm

MUSLIM APOLOGETICS: Stop saying we are Violent or we will Kill You. Our ‘Prophet of Peace’ leads us to burn your Embassies. The main reason Obama is not on top of the Middle East situation is because his upbringing makes him sympathetic to the Muslim cause. Facts aren’t racist :-)

Don't Tread

September 12th, 2012
2:05 pm

Our personnel get killed in a foreign country by people who have complete disregard for human life, and yet we have some on these blogs who (directly and indirectly) advocate limiting our 1st Amendment rights as a “solution”. :roll:

Liberalism is really disgusting.

They BOTH suck

September 12th, 2012
2:06 pm

getaclue

Seeing that there are 1.5B Muslims in the world, explain to us what exactly is “their” cause.

You mean the cause of the radical extremists or Muslims in their entirety?

Thanks for the insight and clarification

Centrist

September 12th, 2012
2:09 pm

Kyle posted: “not everyone else here is liberal, either.”

Good to hear. I suspect that is like not everyone hates us in Egypt, Libya, North Korea, etc.

Keep your head down.

Thomas heyward Jr

September 12th, 2012
2:10 pm

“From Benghazi to Cairo to Jerusalem to Damascus, a question: Where does America stand? ”
.
I don’t know about you other R&D Washington Party voting fools but……………..this American stands with Ron Paul.
.
“Finally we need to consider the economic cost. We don’t have the money for more military interventions overseas. We don’t have the money for our current military interventions overseas. We have to rely on the Fed’s printing presses and our ability to borrow from China to fund these wars. That alone should put an end to any discussion about getting involved in Libya’s civil war. ”
Ron Paul

Hillbilly D

September 12th, 2012
2:10 pm

Probably more 9/11 than anything and even that is just a convenient excuse as well.

Actually, I’d see that as less of an excuse and more of an extended middle finger.

Bruno

September 12th, 2012
2:10 pm

@Bruno 1:03. I don’t disagree..there doesn’t have to be just one driver IMO.

Buckeye–I view it in terms of “layers” of motivation. If we weren’t such a thorn in the side of the Middle Easterners militarily, I doubt that they would care if some yahooo in Florida threatened to burn a couple of Qurans.

@@

September 12th, 2012
2:11 pm

Maybe America’s Christians could offer seminars on how to weather attacks against one’s religious faith.

We’ve had 47+/- years of practice.

schnirt

SBinF

September 12th, 2012
2:11 pm

Kyle perhaps you’d take a lesson from your party’s nominee. Why not wait until all the facts flush out before blaming Obama? Mitt got out of the block a little early, and he kind of stepped in it….

SBinF

September 12th, 2012
2:13 pm

It just smacks of desperation is all.

They BOTH suck

September 12th, 2012
2:16 pm

@@

You mean as the predominate religion in the US?

Are you one of those war on Christmas folks?

There will be tens of thousands of public Christmas displays, many which are of religious nature, and it is a “war” if a store changes something or someone sues. Mind you I could careless about a display of any nature and think those that sue are going too far, but a war?

hahahahahaha

Gravy Train

September 12th, 2012
2:18 pm

Kyle, you should be vary familiar with hate. It’s the driving force of the GOP these days. How dare you try to label all Muslims as “they hate us.” You sound like any other semi-literate red neck around here that passes of fear and hate as justifications for racism, bigotry or homophobia. I hope you get fired so you can go work for some obscure wing nut publication where you belong. After Romney loses big, all of you scared and sheltered nimrods of the GOP or Tea Bag Fest can look back to this post for an example of why he lost. I’m glad people like you are the minority in America. You are all aging too. Why don’t you do some real leg work and expose the plutocrats that have hijacked your party? You don’t have to be the brown nose for them anymore. No amount of money is worth your pride and self respect, if you have any left after shilling for Willard.

iggy

September 12th, 2012
2:19 pm

Obama reminds me of Ayetollah Khomeni.

fair and balanced

September 12th, 2012
2:19 pm

Bruno- Here is what our policy should be – keep our troops the hell out of the middle east unless some outside country is trying to make moves on the region. We went in in 1942 when the Germans were about to overrun the middle east and the allies kicked them all the way home. We sent troops in 1990 to aid a country that had no treaty with us after it was attacked by one of its neighbors. That ended with twenty years of our involvement in Iraq and with Iran losing its main enemy. Tell me what we gained besides some oil contracts????????And Israel is all grown up and can kick ass when it needs to on its own if we do not meddle in its affairs and tell it when to stop kicking ass . I. Also please explain why George W signed a military cooperation treaty with Gaddafi when he was a number one terrorist who killed Americans but Sadaam was target number one for the neocons?
And why did your boy Ronnie turn tail and flee from Lebanon when 150 Marines were killed by Hezbollah?? Of course Obama is the Muslim sympathizer who would never kill any Muslims in cold blood -is that right?
I would like to hear the neo-con rebuttal.

Gravy Train

September 12th, 2012
2:20 pm

I don’t think you have the guts to stand up to plutocrats, Kyle.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

September 12th, 2012
2:20 pm

I think the question is more like Where does America lie?

We haven’t stood for anything in quite some time.

They BOTH suck

September 12th, 2012
2:21 pm

@@

What are you not able to do in regards to your religious beliefs?

Are you ok with the Code of Hamarbi at the court house, a Muslim code of some sort, etc? Or just the 10 commandments.

How about school prayer? You are allowed to have a moment of silence, right? If not, are you ok with prayers from any and every religion represented at a school.

You are for “freedom and rights” for all, correct?

So again, what religious freedoms have been taken from you and who took them? I hope you survived all those “attacks”

@@

September 12th, 2012
2:21 pm

TBs:

Are you one of those war on Christmas folks?

No. My husband is though.

If I had to choose, I’d prefer lawsuits over killings though.

You?

Hillbilly D

September 12th, 2012
2:22 pm

I had a bit of an experience with the “war on Christmas” back 3-4 years ago when that was going on.

The area I live in isn’t exactly a bastion of secular humanism but every store I went into didn’t have a single card in it that mentioned the word Christmas or anything other than Happy Holiday’s, Seasons Greetings, etc. In each and every store, I asked why they didn’t have any and the always told me that none of their suppliers offered them, so they had to sell what they could get.

I wound up going to a Christian bookstore before I found any. Since then, I always have made it a point to go back to that same store when I need cards.

There’s two sides to that story.

Auntie Christ

September 12th, 2012
2:22 pm

Kyle Wingfield
September 12th, 2012
1:30 pm

Auntie Christ: Who said anything about going to war over this? But I do think there’s a qualitative difference between blaming the killers for the killing, rather than buying their excuse about a movie.
***********************************************************

Then I am at a loss to understand what is the point of this post. You spend a lot of time telling us what we already know, ie they don’t like us very much. You criticize Obama for criticizing the movie, but criticizing the media is a right wing obsession, and likewise criticizing movies.. (Anyone remember Farenheit 911, The Last Temptation of Christ). Your criticism is particularly unwarranted since Obama delivered it before the attack. Another important point conveniently omitted is that in Arab countries the religion is the government and the government is the religion, ergo an attack/insult on the religion is an insult to the government. There were actually calls for war from bolton, michelle malkin and much of the right when hugo chavez insulted bush and the US, but now we just can’t understand the same zealotry from muslims when they are insulted by this movie.

You are trying to make the point that Obama should be faulted for not meeting with Netanyahu. To accomplish what exactly? To have Netanyahu beat drums for war? What other reasons could he have for wanting to meet Obama? Yet you say “Who said anything about going to war over this?” Netanyahu is not going to send any troops to Egypt, so the only thing left to discuss is US military action. You state: “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.” He understands much better than the bush’s what is at play here. As someone pointed out, Americans on sacred muslim ground, ie Mohammed’s home of Saudi Arabia, and attacking muslims from there is what drove bin laden. Bush I was blind to this or failed to understand the insult to muslims this presented. Obama understands that Netanyahu taking action here, using aircraft and equipment supplied by US has “cause and effect.”

Finally, you echo Rice’s question, again faulting Obama for supposedly not answering it. The main point of my original post, which prompted your question, is no one knows where we stand because we ourselves cannot make up our mind where we stand.

iggy

September 12th, 2012
2:23 pm

A couple of fly overs and bomb droppings would give those isLambs what that want. A face to face with MooHamEd.

They BOTH suck

September 12th, 2012
2:25 pm

@@

You want to see a “war” on a faith. Look up what some of the good Christian folks did to stop a Mosque from being built in Murfeesboro, TN.

Mind you there are some zealots out there that will sue to remove anything that is Christian based, but no “wars” and nothing has been taken from you in terms of your ability to worship.

Progressive Humanist

September 12th, 2012
2:26 pm

Looks like Kyle needs some web hits and some comments.

Maybe Romney would have a better shot at becoming president if he actually supported the country once in a while. But instead he tries to score political points on the death of an American diplomat, he hides out in France during Vietnam while he cheers on the idea of other young Americans being sent to fight and die, often against their wishes, and he makes sure he gives back as little to the country as possible by hiding his money in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland. And he earned all that money by leeching off the companies he took over and emptying the employees’ pension plans before shipping the work overseas. When Romney sees a crisis in America he sees an opportunity to advance his own interests at the cost of America’s. He’s not presidential material.

@@

September 12th, 2012
2:26 pm

TBs:

I didn’t say anything had been taken from me, just that I shouldn’t have to expend so much effort to defend it.

As far as displaying the Code of Hamarbi at the court house, are laws weren’t founded on their code, therefore, I don’t see the need.

Goldie

September 12th, 2012
2:26 pm

America does not STAND for Bush’s or Condi’s policies anymore– OK? War-mongering and nation-building (or “spreading democracy” as the Cons prefer to call it) is no longer the automatic response to the problems in the Middle East. Diplomacy and compromise are now the policies of America — but I understand your confusion Kyle, because that’s what Romney likes to call taking “an apology tour”… to hell with the whole “diplomacy” thing, I guess!

Goldie

September 12th, 2012
2:28 pm

Romney/Ryan — Taking Their Orders From Limbaugh and Unfit To Lead!

:)

iggy

September 12th, 2012
2:28 pm

“Diplomacy and compromise are now the policies of America”

You mean buttkissing and fear are now the policies of Obamerica.

BW

September 12th, 2012
2:28 pm

Kyle

What does the question actually mean? Should we have a military response for everything? This is the only conclusion I’m drawing from even asking this question but feel free to dispute that notion.

Just Saying..

September 12th, 2012
2:29 pm

Other than our continuing dependence on middle east oil, our only interest in the region seems to be playing backstop to Israel’s defense needs.

@@

September 12th, 2012
2:29 pm

TBs:

As far as the mosque in Murpheesboro, I didn’t follow that story. If, in fact, their mosque was destroyed for religious reasons, I would condemn such an act. I certainly wouldn’t kill ‘em because of it.

They BOTH suck

September 12th, 2012
2:30 pm

HillBilly

But that is a choice the store made and a choice you made not to do commerce with them any longer.

I have no issue with what they are doing nor what you did.

How that is a “war” is beyond me.

That is done all the time in commerce over and above anything that is Christian / Christmas related. Stores are looking to maximize profits with the least headaches. They make choices and the consumers do like wise, but it isn’t a “war” until Christmas time.

We will just have to agree to disagree on this issue.

Gravy Train

September 12th, 2012
2:30 pm

To be crystal clear: They don’t hate “us” they hate idiots like you who try to speak for the rest of us. People like you who promote morons like Bush and Romney. People like you who value money over morals and civic duty. People like you who think it’s fine to dictate terms of existence to foreign nations because they have something you can steal and turn a profit on. Keep your “us” to yourself next time.

They BOTH suck

September 12th, 2012
2:32 pm

@@

To me it was worse than being destroyed. The city and county kept changing regs and rules on the fly to keep them from building. That is over and above the nastiness that came from a percentage of the local population.

I was glad that they fought and fought until they are in that building and are worshiping there now.

If you ever get the time, look it up. It is not a good testimony of may of the elected officials and citizens of that area

Goldie

September 12th, 2012
2:33 pm

“Go see the movie 2016 ”

OMG, the Cons here still love to believe that conspiracy crap year after year — whatever keeps you feeling scared of That Man In the White House With His Gangster Buddies… LOL!

:)

iggy

September 12th, 2012
2:34 pm

Instead of retailiating we should go on the offensive with a little indiscriminant carpet bombing.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

September 12th, 2012
2:34 pm

So much for obozo’s foreign policy “successes.”

Even Government Motors is better off than the ME.

They BOTH suck

September 12th, 2012
2:36 pm

@@

Outside of getting into discussion and even arguments with people, which by the way is your choice, what have you had to defend in terms of your right and ability to worship?

Walk away from those folks. They can’t legally stop you from believing what you believe, worshiping at your home and church, teaching your kids what you believe, etc.

They can try but have no more right to impose what they believe than a Christian, Muslim or whomever doing the same thing.