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?
Total Voters: 517
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