Poll Position: How should Obama respond to embassy attacks?

The big story this week was the series of attacks on U.S. embassies across the Middle East and North Africa: from Libya, where our ambassador was killed, to Egypt, Yemen and, today, Tunisia and Sudan. In Libya, the government is cooperating with the investigation into the murders of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. The responses from the other countries have been mixed, but they have been rather tepid on the whole.

How should Obama respond to the attacks on our embassies?

  • Cut foreign aid (255 Votes)
  • Pursue the killers in Libya; otherwise, lie low (173 Votes)
  • Stop issuing travel visas for people from those countries (130 Votes)
  • Bomb 'em (108 Votes)
  • Economic sanctions (106 Votes)
  • Too soon to say (102 Votes)
  • Cut diplomatic ties (91 Votes)
  • Increase foreign aid (5 Votes)

Total Voters: 517

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President Obama made a mistake Wednesday evening when he said of the Egyptian government, which has been in place less than three months, “I don’t think that we would consider them an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy.” It was a mistake because the White House on Thursday had to walk back the statement; later Thursday, the State Department had to walk back the walk back, clarifying that Egypt retains the official designation of Major Non-NATO Ally it has held since 1989.

But this post isn’t about criticizing Obama for shooting first and aiming later. (OK, maybe it’s a little bit about that.) It’s really about the question most of us have been pondering since the attacks in Libya and Egypt on Tuesday, the 11th anniversary of 9/11: What is the proper response?

Some of you took my first post on the subject to imply a military action is needed. As I tried to make clear in the comments, that’s not the case. Things would have to spiral much further out of control before we were talking about military action.

Unless, of course, you include drone flights and a possible targeted strike on the terrorists responsible for the ambassador’s death, which the Obama administration appears to be considering at the very least.

Otherwise, there are a range of options here. We could pull our diplomats from their capitals. We could expel their diplomats from Washington. We cut cut or eliminate foreign aid to these countries. We could, I suppose, increase our foreign aid to them and use it to promote and educate them about our laws and values (such as freedom of expression). We could officially remove them from our list of allies. We could stop issuing travel visas from their country to ours. We could impose some form of economic sanctions. Or we could essentially do nothing more than pursue the people who killed Stevens and the other Americans.

What should Obama’s response entail? That’s this week’s Poll Position question. Answer in the nearby poll — NOTE: unlike most of my polls, you can select more than one answer in this one — and the comments thread below.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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949 comments Add your comment

JamVet

September 14th, 2012
12:22 pm

Obama made the mistake in this matter???

So, the Romney Foot in Mouth Apology Tour continues.

Got it…

My vote – Pursue the killers in Libya and don’t lay low

Aquagirl

September 14th, 2012
12:22 pm

Oh dear. Kyle is asking for specifics, not just “be more MANLY.” Can’t wait to see the responses.

Centrist

September 14th, 2012
12:24 pm

Our response under Obama will eyewash rhetoric.

There is no doubt it should be stronger – at least publicly cutting aid until/unless the governments crack down on unruly mobs and not covertly encourage them in order to divert attention from their own domestic problems. This should have been done with Pakistan when they reacted poorly to the Obama Bin Laden operation.

md

September 14th, 2012
12:30 pm

“Obama made the mistake in this matter???”

Yes……hence having to walk it back.

So, the Romney Foot in Mouth Apology Tour continues.”

And no, the admin actually walked that back too……and Hilary doubled down on the apology foolishness. We should never apologize when our citizens exercise their right to free speech. It isn’t us that has the problem, it is them.

RonD

September 14th, 2012
12:30 pm

I tried voting on two of the options at once and got a pop up box saying only one choice allowed.

detritusUSA

September 14th, 2012
12:30 pm

The big bear in the kitchen is the price of oil. The president must be prudent and calculating in his response to this situation so that the least damage is done to our economy and U. S. prestige. He can’t just run off at the mouth as Mr Romney has done as well as conservative commentators. Since 1979 the U.S. has tried to figure out how to deal with these people and had no success. I don’t see that changing.

JDW

September 14th, 2012
12:31 pm

@Kyle…”President Obama made a mistake Wednesday evening when he said of the Egyptian government, which has been in place less than three months, “I don’t think that we would consider them an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy.” I”

Sure about that? I think it was with purpose knowing it would likely be “walked back”. Since that statement Egypt has condemned the violence and canceled plans for sponsored protests…it’s the whole carrot and stick thing.

Dusty

September 14th, 2012
12:32 pm

Well, decisions decisions. Anyway,I checked three which you can’t do. So …pursue killers, cut foreign aid (we can’t afford it), and it is still early.

I’ll check back after I dabble my toes in the ocean for a week. All should be wise and worthy by then.

Please take care of the BRAVES while I am gone. Thank you.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

September 14th, 2012
12:33 pm

“How should Obama respond to embassy attacks?”

Resignation would be my first choice, but it wasn’t on the poll.

And of course, the “Romney foot in mouth” charge has been debunked for days now, but AmVet won’t let that stop him from repeating it all day long.

Thulsa Doom

September 14th, 2012
12:33 pm

“How should Obama respond to embassy attacks?”

Well as part of the blame America first crowd he should do what he does best and go on another worldwide apology tour.

Thulsa Doom

September 14th, 2012
12:36 pm

Cut aid and tell these countries that if they go to the IMF for economic development funds we will block them. Those 2 actions will get their attention real fast if they at least have the sense that God gave geese.

jconservative

September 14th, 2012
12:38 pm

First, stop arguing over how fast the US should intervene when Muslims are killing Muslims. We had people demanding that the President invade Iran, Egypt, Libya and now Syria because Muslims were killing Muslims. If the Muslims do not mind fellow Muslims killing their brothers, why on earth should the US care?

Now, if Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq etc, etc want to invade Syria to stop the slaughter, I would be open to providing intelligence info and satellite data to assist.

If some counties cannot, or will not, protect US embassies and consulates, then the State Department needs to advise those countries that the US cannot protect their embassies, consulates and UN missions in the US and they had best withdraw them.

This story, perceived or real insults to Islam, will continue and will result in the same pattern of behavior over the coming years. As each situation is different, an announced firm policy will not work. Each incident must be handled individually.

Aquagirl

September 14th, 2012
12:39 pm

There’s only one way to scare suicidal terrorists….I say we deploy Mitt’s hairgel.

I know it’s banned under the Geneva Conventions but that’s not an issue with most Republicans.

md

September 14th, 2012
12:39 pm

” He can’t just run off at the mouth as Mr Romney has done as well as conservative commentators.”

So why did/does he?

Ally….no ally. (although they have official ally status)

Martin would be just like his son (not knowing what Martin was really all about yet)

And of course the stupidity of the Cambridge police……….

He just can’t help it.

Taipei Personality

September 14th, 2012
12:40 pm

you should allow more than one option to be chosen, Kyle. Pursue killers, cut foreign aid, cut diplomatic ties, economic sanctions, and no travel visas, depending on how cooperative the governments are with helping us root out the perps!

Thulsa Doom

September 14th, 2012
12:41 pm

Aquagirl,

I’ve heard worse. They say Mitt plans to put them in cages and take them for car rides on top of the car. They’ll be pooping their pants in no time.

Kyle Wingfield

September 14th, 2012
12:43 pm

JamVet: As you may have read, the Obama administration nudged YouTube about taking down the video in question. So, it appears Romney had a point.

Not to mention that “Romney issues statement a bit too quickly” is hardly the same as “President of the United States mistakenly says an ally is not an ally anymore.”

Kyle Wingfield

September 14th, 2012
12:45 pm

RonD: Sorry, I checked the box to allow more answers but didn’t change the maximum number of responses allowed…as I said, I don’t usually do multiple-choice polls. But it should be fixed now.

RW-(the original)

September 14th, 2012
12:46 pm

I kind of agree with JV about pursueing and not laying low. I know, I know..it shocks me too.

The real response that needs to take place isn’t really a response but a change of course. Drone strikes on any suspect hanging around the local oasis might be effective at killing and avoiding the messy business of detention, but that messy business of detention is also where we glean intelligence about these kinds of plots.

getalife

September 14th, 2012
12:46 pm

romney blamed America first.

Then he blamed the filmmaker.

What will his third position be?

Blame the media of course.

Our President was right and it is a horrible idea to change leaders to a weak rookie.

Frustrated Taxpayer

September 14th, 2012
12:46 pm

He should admit that he, his imbecilic VP and feckless SOS are all clueless and should resign..

markie mark

September 14th, 2012
12:47 pm

Jesus Jamvet, how far do you want to mouth the party line….the president is the President for Christs sake….and he says one of our only two allies in the Middle East is NOT an ally? When they have been for 40 years?….keep on carrying that water, guy

Kyle Wingfield

September 14th, 2012
12:48 pm

JDW @ 12:31 confirms there is no limb too long, too thin, he will not walk out on to defend Obama.

Seriously? Having the State Department walk back a statement by the President, while explaining he didn’t have the question in advance and thus didn’t know how to answer, is a brilliant idea?

Thulsa Doom

September 14th, 2012
12:48 pm

I think that going Rambo is the last thing we should do. I like the idea of cutting economic and military aid completely, then expelling their diplomats and if not that then at least cancel all visas from those countries into our country.Send them a message that they are not welcome if they are going to trash our embassies and kill our diplomats.

Other sanctions including blocking them in the IMF would be very serious and loss of most favorable nation status if any of them have that would also be devastating.

I would support a very targeted drone strike against the killers of our diplomats but that’s it as far as military action goes.

citizen

September 14th, 2012
12:48 pm

I just heard Paul Ryan at a campaign rally refer to ‘Nature’s God.’
Is this a new religion that I haven’t heard of before?
He was referring to his religion and Romney’s religion, has anyone else picked up on this oddity or is this a new age sentiment?

Aquagirl

September 14th, 2012
12:48 pm

They say Mitt plans to put them in cages and take them for car rides on top of the car.

On the first day of his presidency, Mitt could sign a $100 billion contract for specially modified Humvees. We can put America back to work AND humiliate terrorists with this shovel-ready project.

USA! USA! USA!

Frustrated Taxpayer

September 14th, 2012
12:49 pm

He should admit that he, his imbecilic VP and feckless SOS are all clueless and should resig or perhaps just more fund raisers aka business as usual.

Kyle Wingfield

September 14th, 2012
12:49 pm

Taipei: I tried but messed it up. It should be fixed now.

getalife

September 14th, 2012
12:50 pm

Kyle,

It is a brand new government with Muslim Brotherhood leading.

We don’t know if they are an ally yet.

They have to prove they are an ally or an enemy.

Common sense Kyle.

Try it.

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

September 14th, 2012
12:53 pm

Jamvet

What about a President that condemns his opponent in an election, before he condemns the killers of our diplomats.

Kyle,
We need to expel the diplomats from the countries that refuse to honor established protocol of the host country protecting our diplomats. Send them packing and bring ours home. Cut off funds until the country involved assures us that they will protect our people regardless of the issue. Put live ammo in the weapons of the USMC guards at the embassies. Beef up the USMC contingent at all the ME embassies.

And as Tib points out, Obama could do the honorable thing and resign as he has lost control of foreign policy in the ME. Remember two or three days ago, he was grinning and poking fun at R/R, saying they were “new to foreign policy”, like he was the svengali in that area.

md

September 14th, 2012
12:55 pm

“They have to prove they are an ally or an enemy.”

Oh so wrong…….they are officially listed as an ally….they remain that way until proven otherwise. You threw them under the bus about as fast as Obama did………..

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

September 14th, 2012
12:56 pm

“The American embassy in Egypt blamed America first.

Then Hillary and Obama blamed the filmmaker.”

Fixed your typos, getalife. No thanks needed.

JF McNamara

September 14th, 2012
12:56 pm

Pursue the killers. You don’t kill Americans and get to live.

After that, I don’t really care. The government isn’t accountable for a few idiots. USA isn’t accountable for the film (which may or may not have played into this), so Libya isn’t responsible for their rogue citizens.

JamVet

September 14th, 2012
12:56 pm

At the risk of sounding like the awful Tricky Dick, “Let me be clear”.

The administration was absolutely stupid (and Nixon-like) for redacting their records. Any subsequent gaffes by Obama are also not to be discounted.

But you Republicans are completely insne because you absolutely refuse to admit to the MUCH bigger issue here. And have spen the better part of there days merely tap damning around it. Your candidate said something so despicable, so anti-Amerian that even plenty of Republicans are disgusted with his “stepped in it” stunt.

I have listed several of them and quoted their own words.

The facts are irrefutable. Romney simply lied when he said I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s FIRST response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.

Wake up, cons. Your guy is going to lose this election. And this desperate slimeball Limbaugh-like lie is not going to change that. Nor is tibs, nor anyone else’s pathetic, substantiveless, (is that a real word? LOL!) debunkedless (that one is not!) rebuttals.

Romney is unfit to lead, for a variety of reasons. And this debacle merely confirms as much

With that said, I am very much looking forward to td paying off his bet, and debt to society on November 7…

markie mark

September 14th, 2012
12:57 pm

getalife – countries have treaties between countries, not between the governments in power in those countries. they are our ally until they, the government of Egypt, breaks those treaties……

Education, getalife

Try it.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

September 14th, 2012
12:57 pm

“We don’t know if they are an ally yet.”

Really? We send $2 billion a year to a country we don’t know is an ally? What kind of foreign policy is that?

Certainly not a successful one.

JamVet

September 14th, 2012
12:58 pm

Kyle, please see if my last post got caught up in the ether.

Thanks…

getalife

September 14th, 2012
12:58 pm

The adults that focused on aq and got obl are in charge.

What did romney say about going after obl ?

They are desperate pivoting to foreign policy because they have zero experience and he is weak on national security.

JamVet

September 14th, 2012
12:59 pm

“The American embassy in Egypt blamed America first.”

Quote, please.

markie mark

September 14th, 2012
12:59 pm

Isn’t anyone here even curious about the lack of Marines in an embassy/consulate in a predominately Muslim country on the anniversary of 9/11? Who was in charge of that cluster#### idea? or lack thereof?

getalife

September 14th, 2012
1:00 pm

markie mark ,

It is a new government. There are no treaties signed. Educate yourself con.

jconservative

September 14th, 2012
1:01 pm

Romney screwed up when he issued a statement before all the facts were known. I have heard more Republican strategist criticize Romney over this than Democrats. My chief suspect in the “Quick Draw McGraw” statement is foreign policy advisor Dan Senor.

Obama blew it on the Egypt is/is not an ally. You just do not make that statement.

Aquagirl

September 14th, 2012
1:01 pm

Put live ammo in the weapons of the USMC guards at the embassies.

Oh good lord. Another con joins the mmm, I’ll swallow anything! brigade.

Need a napkin?

No Artificial Flavors

September 14th, 2012
1:01 pm

J conservative pretty much nailed it at 12:38. While we have always sought to maintain or strengthen diplomatic ties to just about every country on earth, it is a different wold now. US embassies are extremely important for the variety of work they do that goes unnoticed. however, if our host country cannot provide some semblance of security ( not to mention their outright support for this riotous behavior) then we should have no choice but to suspend issuing visas and withdraw State staff. That or maintain a military force at each post so great that one may presume to have a new base in these countries.

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

September 14th, 2012
1:02 pm

And when we get warnings 48 hours ahead, that there is going to be trouble at an embassy, maybe some one should get the diplomats out and bring the Marines in (with live ammo). Maybe we could put Joe Biden in charge of that if he has finished figuring out how many jobs the stimulus saved.

getalife

September 14th, 2012
1:03 pm

markie mark ,

Wait on the FBI report before attacking America.

They already made arrests.

Educate yourself,.Do some research and stop blaming America.

getalife

September 14th, 2012
1:05 pm

romney acted like a crazy knee jerk con then took our President’s position.

Flip flop.

A weak and rookie move.

The gop pundits call him nixon.

JamVet

September 14th, 2012
1:05 pm

And when we get warnings 48 hours ahead…

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!

How gullible do you have to be, to believe some tawdry English tabloid???

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

September 14th, 2012
1:06 pm

“What did romney say about going after obl ?”

He said you don’t focus your efforts on one man, but ALL aspects of stopping terrorism (including getting him).

Next?

Not Blind

September 14th, 2012
1:07 pm

It’s so much better to think ahead than to react after you’ve let the enemy have the first punch. Obama, Clinton, et al of this administration should be resigning for lax security in muslim countries undergoing profound social upheavals. It was 9-11 for goodness sake. Why weren’t there 50+ heavily armed Marines at every embassy in the volatile countries ??? It’s because we haven’t had any effective leadership since Obama somehow got himself elected.